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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Robin Hood (review)

We Wuz Robbed

How can it be that my geeky little heart has been ripped from my chest and my geeky little soul crushed underfoot like so much spilled popcorn on the floor of the multiplex? That wasn’t supposed to happen. Robin Hood was supposed to be awesome. Did not Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott implicitly promise me awesome with their Gladiator-in-Sherwood-Forest movie? Did they not promise me something potently masculine and powerfully engaging and, you know, at least a little bit pertinent amidst the blood and the guts and the medieval glory?
Fans of the traditional Robin Hood story may be disappointed to find almost none of it here: this is a superhero origin tale, the backstory to how a mere mortal of a man became the “Robin Hood” of legend. That’s not what disappoints me (though I will confess to a twinge of “So, now the movie will start?” when, two hours and 20 minutes in and 30 seconds before the end credits roll, Bad King John finally declares Robin Longstride an outlaw; even in an origin story, perhaps the hero does need to don the cape or get in the Batmobile — or into Sherwood Forest — by at least the beginning of the third act). I’m onboard with the idea of a “realistic,” “historically accurate” telling of the man before the hood.

This ain’t it. Oh, it may be mostly historically accurate — more on that in a minute — but emotionally accurate it is not. There is no passion here, in what is one of the greatest love stories ever told; no anger, in what is supposed to be a tale about injustices righted and tyrants tamed; no longing, no regret, not even more than the tiniest rumors of humor. No nothing. The characters onscreen are barely given a chance to express themselves, so we in turn cannot feel anything along with them.

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett are two of my favorite actors, and two of the most passionate cinematic presences working today, and even they couldn’t make me feel anything here. I am bafflingly depressed by this.

It starts off promising, and with hints that this hero will be a more complicated man than we might have expected. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe: State of Play, Body of Lies) is a “common archer” in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston: Clash of the Titans, Edge of Darkness), finally on his way home to England in 1199 from his Crusades in the Holy Land and taking one last opportunity while on the Continent to kick some French butt. After an unfortunate encounter with the king himself one evening in camp, Robin — along with a couple of fellows with familiar names: Little John (Kevin Durand: Legion, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes: ER, Mystery, Alaska), etc — deserts the army, ends up impersonating the dead knight Sir Robert Loxley, and engages in a few other acts that seem rather more expedient than a noble figure of legend might get up to.

Even at this early point, however, there are other, less promising hints of what’s to come: An English soldier, Godfrey (Mark Strong: Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes), is in cahoots with the French king, Philip (Jonathan Zaccai), to further divide the already compromised England (what with its absent king and all) and invade; King Richard’s brother, Prince John (Oscar Isaac: Body of Lies, Che), is storming around in a perpetual snit over matters of succession; the monarchy’s money guy, William Marshall (William Hurt: The Incredible Hulk, Vantage Point), is popping up with concerns over taxation; Marian Loxley (Cate Blanchett: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ponyo), lady of the Nottingham manor Peper Harow, is contending with a roving band of feral-child thieves who hide in Sherwood Forest.

The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen: Frost/Nixon, 2007’s Death at a Funeral) and Friar Tuck (Mark Addy: Around the World in 80 Days, The Order) appear, but only so you can later go, “Hey, wait, they didn’t get to do anything!”

There’s a lot going on here. Scriptwriter Brian Helgeland (Green Zone, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant) — with story contributions from the team of Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Kung Fu Panda, Bulletproof Monk) — has crammed a television season’s worth of plot and character into one comparatively small movie: this is a 26-hour story, not a two-and-a-half-hour one. And the movie suffers for it. (I’d love to see the 26-episode version, though!) This isn’t supposed to be the kind of tale where villainy is it own explanation — it’s more “serious” than that — but Godfrey is a complete mystery: Who is he? Why did he turn traitor? My minor quibble about historical accuracy — would a “common archer” such as Robin Longstride be literate, as we clearly see he is early in the film? — gets “resolved” in a wildly improbable “surprise” revelation that is ridiculously coincidental and then left entirely unexplored and unexplained. I could go on and on, but perhaps the worst instance of the rush to get through this overly stuffed movie is how it elides right over the romance: Robin, continuing to impersonate Sir Robert with the complicity of his father, Sir Walter (Max Von Sydow: Shutter Island, Rush Hour 3), for the sake of the continuity of manor life, is suddenly in love with Marian, Loxley’s widow (also in on the impersonation scheme), and she with him, when the moment calls for it.

I don’t think it’s too much to expect that I should fall in love with Robin and Marian as a couple, too. It’s not the fault of Crowe and Blanchett that we can’t: they both have moments, separately and together, that suggest the power and the passion that both of them always bring as actors to their performances. But they’re not allowed to create living characters here. There’s simply no room for it.

Lots of movies suffer from the “there’s no there” kind of emptiness. Robin Hood has the opposite problem: there’s too much there there. It looks great, all shot in authentic English locations with a handsome cast and spectacular battle sequences, including Scott’s mounting of a medieval Normandy invasion. But it’s all in aid of nothing: nothing to say, nothing to feel.

Did I mention how crushed I am?

MPAA: rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • moviefan

    Gee whiz, MaryAnn, I know RDJr has supplanted Russell Crowe in your heart of hearts, (sorta J/K here, I know you still like Russell (grin)) but I can’t believe you say Skip It to Robin Hood and See It to Iron Man 2.

    I love RDJr too, though his quirky smartaleck persona is about all we see in movies anymore. But IM2 was not good at all and really disappointing after IM1.

    I love that Ridley Scott & Co did a different take on the tired same old Robin Hood and I think they did an exemplary job. I loved the chemistry between Russell and Cate and RIdley can do battle scenes like no other. I laughed this morning when I read Ebert’s review and he mentioned that the entire last battle was CGI’d. What? Has he not read/seen anything about the movie?

    Anyway, RH may not be Gladiator but it’s still a cracking good time at the movies and I urge anyone who is a fan of Gladiator, Russell Crowe and/or Ridley Scott to see this movie on a large screen, where it should be seen.

  • Heather

    Filmed in England, but not anywhere near Nottingham, sadly…

  • funWithHeadlines

    It may be a cracking good time at the movies (though I can hardly find many such reviews that say that, they usually say it’s plodding and boring), but is it Robin Hood? Ebert’s point is that there really was no such person as such, but the legend that has been built up has certain features we all know.

    This is a movie that throws all that aside in the name of historical accuracy (for a character that cannot actually be historically accurate, of course). Sounds like the second film might be the one to see. If I want to see medieval men mucking about in the mud, I’ll watch Holy Grail. If I want to see Robin Hood, you know, the guy who does the things we say he did, I’ll wait for the sequel to this to see an “historically accurate” version of the legend, or I’ll stick to the Errol Flynn version which absolutely is universally acknowledged as a cracking good time as the movies.

  • Keith

    Robin Hood is at 45% on Rottentomatoes after 67 reviews, so MaryAnn’s review is certainly not in the minority. I’ve seen other reviews that speak of how emotionally empty it is. Seems like they tried to make an overcomplicated Robin Hood Begins, but ended up with a story so dense you can’t see the Sherwood Forest through the trees.

    Sounds like the best thing is to rent the DVD from Netflix to watch the battle sequences.

  • moviefan

    Does anyone read the RT reviews anymore? They let every Tom, Dick and Harry Blogger post reviews there, it’s atrocious. ”
    I have seen several very positive reviews with expressions similar to “cracking good time” and from more well-respected critics than the bloggers at RT. I admit many of the positive reviews are coming from the UK and Australia. I do believe the movie will go down better overseas, I think it was the same for Gladiator and other Scott films, like KOH. (I admit I dislked the theatrical version of KOH but very much like the director’s cut)

    Robin Hood is a legend, this is only a variation on the myth and I very much enjoyed seeing how that man may have come to be. Some will miss the old cliches and some will be happy to see something new and different. C’est la vie!

  • kris

    Oh MaryAnn, please do not exaggerate. Clearly u wanted to see another version with Erol Flynn or something like that. This film ain’t half bad. Could be better, as always, but it has a lot going for it. As for Marion, well, I do not like Cate very much and her part is written irritatingly to appease today’s political correctness and women empowerment. If there were women who could fight like she does they sure did not look like her and had 20 kilos more of muscles on them. But the film looks and sounds awesome; Strong, Crowe etc are very good and Scott as usual can direct a fighting sequence (which is not always the case, he tends sometimes to over-edit, for example in Gladiator).

  • doa766

    cate blanchet is usually the problem, she’s a good and attractive actress but I can’t think of one movie where I enjoyed her acting, maybe on The Talented Mr Ripley but that’s it

    she always oversells the part, as soon as I heard she was on this I lost interest, just like with Benjamin Button, and I never thought I would have no interest on a David Fincher or a Ridley Scott movie

    she always plays the tough, invulnerable and emotionally remote woman so there’s no suspense, danger and no one on the audience cares about what happens to her characters, she makes every single scene she’s in boring, she made Indiana Jones 4 even worse by not taking it seriously

    and now I understand that there’s a scene on this where she charges on a horse leading an attack? please

    keep that actress out of anything even remotely entertaining because she will ruin it, she should only act in oscar bait dramas or indie stuff

  • bats :[

    Sorry…every trailer I saw so strongly reminded me of Gladiator, I began to wonder if Ridley Scott was going to do some future remakes (after cutting-and-pasting in King Richard and Robin Hood), substituting Marcus Aurelius and his Favorite General with Gandalf and Frodo, then Obi-wan and Anakin.

    No interest in seeing this.

  • doa766

    archers were the lowest of the low on medieval armies, they received no respect at all and usually were NOT the ones skilled with the bow and arrow, they’re were the ones that couldn’t fight for shit so were force to learn how to shoot arrows

    a big guy like Russell Crowe would not be allowed to be an archer on an army even if he was the best archer in the world, he would be far more useful as a mediocre foot soldier than as an ace archer, those were a dime a dozen

    archers were always skinny dudes (not unlike snipers nowadays), he’s not right for the part, a 10 year old could see that, if Scott and Crowe wanted to make a period epic there were lots of better choices for them than this

  • Brian

    Industry scuttlebutt has it that this was originally supposed to be a perspective-flipping piece called Nottingham, with Crowe playing the eponymous Sheriff. Now that would have been unique and interesting.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Yeah… I had a bad feeling about this. The trailers reminded me of Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur – you know, retelling a tale that’s usually historically inaccurate but entertaining, and stripping out all the fun bits to end up with something that’s neither accurate or entertaining.

    (though I will confess to a twinge of “So, now the movie will start?” when, two hours and 20 minutes in and 30 seconds before the end credits roll, Bad King John finally declares Robin Longstride an outlaw; even in an origin story, perhaps the hero does need to don the cape or get in the Batmobile — or into Sherwood Forest — by at least the beginning of the third act).

    That moment’s in the trailers, too, which suggests someone at Universal’s marketing department realised that it’s what people want to see. But no-one thought of that when they were making the film? I know every blockbuster nowadays is at least partly about setting up the sequel, but this is perverse.

  • MaryAnn

    It may be a cracking good time at the movies

    But it’s not even that.

    Clearly u wanted to see another version with Erol Flynn or something like that.

    No, I didn’t. I wanted to see the film that Scott appears to think he is making — *Gladiator* in Sherwood Forest — but it isn’t that, either.

  • MaryAnn

    I can’t believe you say Skip It to Robin Hood and See It to Iron Man 2.

    The problem is that *IM2* has no pretensions of being anything other than what it is (though, as I noted in my review, it easily could have been much more than what it is without sacrificing anything). *RH,* on the other hand, thinks it is much, much more than what it is, but utterly fails to live up to what it wants to be.

    Also: I was engaged by *IM2* — I was not engaged by *RH.*

  • I_Sell_Books

    I knew I was in trouble when I had difficulties keeping straight who was who in your review.

    I mean, it’s RH, should be fairly simple, no?*

    * to be fair, I have the same problem with genre books and the names, O, the names. Usually with more apostrophes and cre8tiv spellyng.

  • bronxbee

    i saw RH when MaryAnn did, and it was sooo disappointing. you can pretty much win me over with bow/arrow and/or sword things… throw in a little romance and i’m usually there. i liked Gladiator very much, and have a lot of love for KoH, even before the director’s cut. but this… it was so crammed full of supposed “history” and very little fact (i mean, where to start? the fact that Richard couldn’t even speak english? that John was, in fact, an efficient administrator? that none of the royal alliances referred to in the movie existed? or the fact that Elinor of Acquitaine was usually under arrest or somewhere in France for most of her life?) but all of that i could forgive, and forget, if i could have been emotionally caught up in the story. but i couldn’t. it bounced around narratively and emotionally and didn’t concentrate on anything.

    very disappointing.

  • The skinniness of archers is relative. Yes, a guy Crowe’s size would have been given a spear instead, but an English long bow had a 75 pound draw, so if you can’t pick up 75 pounds from the floor just with one arm, you probably can’t use a long bow very well, and these guys would have had to do it repeatedly. So while I don’t dispute that the archers would have been thinner than the other soldiers, they would not have been skinny in comparison to most modern guys.

    Battlefield archers wouldn’t have had to be very good shots, any more than line musket soldiers would have to be. Take a thousand guys, line them up, have them shoot in the same general direction at a line of cavalry charging, and just a little training meants a lot of them are going to hit something.

  • Dokeo
  • LaSargenta

    Seems like it is time to get that Sean Connery/Audrey Hepburn Robin/Marian story out of the library.

  • Mo

    Dear Mr. Scott and Crowe. When you’re wondering next Monday where it all went wrong, perhaps you should keep this in mind:

    In the 12th century, real men wore hose.

  • Patti H.

    Well, now I want to go and watch “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” or a couple of episodes of “Robin of Sherwood.”

    (So, MaryAnn, was this Robin Hood better or worse than “Prince of Thieves?”)

  • MaSch

    I agree that the movie had me more interested in it when they went for the “Sheriff of Nottingham as protagonist” angle. That they went for the usual “Robin Hood as protagonist” angle makes you think that someone got cold feet. Speaking of which …

    Some reviewer said it looked to him as if Brian Helgeland wanted to make a movie about the signing of Magna Carta, but got cold feet and threw Robin Hood into the mix. How accurate is this?

  • Barb

    Since I heard about the film haven’t had a good feel for it and looks like I’ve been proved right.

  • This matches my expectations. When even the trailers (which has become a precise science in making every film look exciting) failed to show me anything that captured my interest, I suspected there was little to hope for in the film.

    My biggest problem, though, is why this film was necessary? Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood film was a scant 19 years ago, hardly ancient history, and it was a GOOD film. Yeah, Costner wouldn’t have been my first pick for a rugged countryman, but the film had an excellent mix of humor and action with a serious story behind it. Looking at the trailers for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood all I could think was, “This is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with all the humor taken out.”

    The Wikipedia entry for the new Robin Hood said it originated as a film about the Sheriff of Nottingham. At least THAT would have been a new angle, possibly a refreshing one. What happened to that film?

  • judy

    Most of the reviews I have read for this movie totally agree with what MaryAnn is saying here. I will wait for it to come out on DVD and see Iron Man 2 again tonight.

  • bronxbee

    not spoiling anything by saying that the Sherriff is barely a presence here. i was hoping when i first heard about it that it was going to be based on the book about the Sherriff of Nottingham that i’d read years ago. and that Crowe was playing the sherriff… then it was robin hood, but okay, i could deal with that. but this was… nothing. neither fish, nor fowl, nor good read meat.

    Robin Hood with kevin kostner was very silly, completely inaccurate and yet, somehow, involving. because the Sherriff was just so deliciously, decadently evil. and of course, he was Alan Rickman, who is made of awesome. i almost wanted the sherriff to get the girl. ever been to a Renn Faire where there are actors doing the whole Robin Hood / Sherriff story? it’s the *sherriff* that makes it involving. King John and Richard are both minor players.

    anyway, very very disappointed, as i said. i’m breaking out the old Robin of Sherwood tapes (this is why i have hung on to my tapes). the sherriff in that was a really good bad guy.

  • dconner

    Your description is more or less accurate for archers from other countries, but NOT for English longbowmen. See Bernard Cornwell’s “Grail Quest” series for a fictionalized but very well-researched elaboration. Longbowmen were VERY strong men, probably the strongest men in England at the time.

  • AsimovLives

    As the bard once said, methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  • Erik Goodwyn

    That wasn’t the bard, that was Gertrude.

  • JackCerf

    Robin Hood used to know his place. In the ballads, and in the Errol Flynn classic, he was a guy getting away with something and having a great time doing it. Robin and his gang of thieves were what has been called “social bandits.” They robbed from the rich, gave to the poor, and kept a healthy commission for themselves, but there wasn’t the slightest prospect that they could actually overthrow the oppressive society they lived in. All they could do was make a little space out in Sherwood Forest, gorge themselves on Prince John’s venison, and raise a little hell for a while.

    Since Vietnam, we have loaded onto poor Robin Hood more politics than he can bear. He’s expected to be a revolutionary, and whether he’s played by Sean Connery as worn out guy at the end of his string, by Kevin Costner as a guerilla genius, or by Russell Crowe as a William Wallace knockoff, he’s got to be so terribly earnest that he’s no fun any more.

  • MaryAnn

    As the bard once said, methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    Meaning what, precisely?

  • Boingo

    Arghhhh..bummer. This was the only new release in my
    theater across the street. The usual contributors to this site,along with MJ, weighs heavier on my decisions
    lately-trying to save my money.

  • moviefan

    “The problem is that *IM2* has no pretensions of being anything other than what it is (though, as I noted in my review, it easily could have been much more than what it is without sacrificing anything). *RH,* on the other hand, thinks it is much, much more than what it is, but utterly fails to live up to what it wants to be.”

    MaryAnn, see, this is where I disagree with you. I don’t think Robin Hood has pretensions of being anything other than what it is – a story about how the man in the legend of Robin Hood became the man called Robin Hood. It may not be what some people wanted to see, the same old Robin Hood in the ho ho hood, (not saying you BTW) but this is Scott & Co.’s interpretation of how Robin Hood came to be and I think it is an exceptional entertainment, from the production design (clearly the best I’ve seen in a long while) to the directing, acting and story.

    I can see where some folks may have gotten a bit impatient in the first third, perhaps a few minutes could have been cut there, but there was a lot of background and historical context to cover so it wasn’t too long for me and as far as I’m concerned the payoff was great.

  • AsimovLives

    MaryAnn, meaning exactly that. That you are complaining too much about this movie. But I have to be honest with you, i haven’t seen it yet, but i’ll today. And after i watch it, i’ll come back and tell if you were dead on or if you were off the mark. But frankly, from what i gathered from your review,a nd reading between the lines, something tells me you are a bit off the mark. I also noticed this other thing: the only really bad reviews only came from the USA. In europe, specially the UK, the mvoie is getting pretty good reviews. What says you of this?

    And least you forget, i’m portuguese.

  • So now Robin Hood is now an European thing that only Europeans can understand?

  • MaryAnn

    MaryAnn, meaning exactly that. That you are complaining too much about this movie.

    That’s not what “the lady doth protest too much” means. Unless I’m misunderstanding the Bard, me being American and him having been European and all.

    But I have to be honest with you, i haven’t seen it yet


    And after i watch it, i’ll come back and tell if you were dead on or if you were off the mark.

    Most generous of you.

    the only really bad reviews only came from the USA. In europe, specially the UK, the mvoie is getting pretty good reviews. What says you of this?

    I am but an ignorant, uncultured American, so what could I know?

  • Boingo

    Gave in and saw it (for free).Somehow, the new ushers
    never take my free movie stubs, so I may have one more freebee. Hey-I live in a Sherwood Forrest of a town.

    It was okay. I was in the mood for getting carried along
    with the latest version of the legend. Great scenes and
    cinematography;nothing outstandingly original, but the CU of arrow being released slo-mo was beautiful.Odd
    juxtaposition of the kissing scenes(one at a funeral,another at battle scene).I enjoyed Cate Blanchett’s standoffish acting-made her sparse expressions more interesting.I wonder how this baby is
    being received in France?

  • Asimov

    Hello, MaryAnne. I saw Robin Hood last night and i want to share a few thoughs with you, if you may.

    To start:

    I am but an ignorant, uncultured American, so what could I know?

    Don’t be silly, MaryAnne. You of all people are not ignorant. But there’s cultural differences which even in this era of globalization are still strong and matter. This is a fact. And looks the new Ridley Scott movie rubbed many americans the wrong way, while i does not among many europeans, specially the british. This also happened with KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, which the theatrical version, evne though inferior to the later Director’s Cut, was still a good movie with losts of qualities, and yet it was much more accepted around the world then in the USA. So, there you have it, another example from not so long ago.

    OK, about the movie: Well, truly methinks thou doth protest too much about the movie. Protest in botht he modern sence of the word, and also in your avowed alligence to the notion this is a bad movie, which you so emphatically support that you even ranked Ridley Scott as the enemy. Knowing how you are about movies form your past reviews, and consideringthe fact that i agree with yours about 90% of the tume, that you hate this movie so and you even ranked Scott as the enemy, to quote from The Thing From The Another World, the mind boggles.

    I don’t know what missed you by. This isn’t a great movie. This is a good movie. This is not a bad movie. That’s it. This should had the colour of the yellow hue, not the red as you put. If this movie has problems, and it has, they are not about filmmaking or even the storytelling. This movie presents problems if you are an history buff. Which I am. There is where the movie presents itself problematic. The whole battle that never happened. The isnpirating for the Magna Carta having been the creation of a yoeman stonemanson, instead of from whom it really came from, the nobility. and which was a continuation of an older saxon and celtic tradition of parlamentarianism, back in the days when kings were elected. The Magna Carta is a compromise of two views of kingship, one that was based on divine rulling, and another where kings were “primo inter pares”, the first among equals, and one elected by a college of noblemen. The 12th century was an interesting time in midieval europe, it was a time of revolution, it was a time where older tradtions was still very well remembered, but where revolutions in governship and the relationships between the state, the people, the church with God and with each other. The movie does point to all that, but in a very simple, almost simplistic, way.
    And then there’s the thing that most amused me, for the wrong reasons: this insistence that the kings of england of the time would think themselves english. Which they didn’t. Not until the defeat of the 100 Years Wars did the english monarchy and the top nobility descendents from the norman invaders identify themselves as english, since they lost all french territories, thus terminating any reasonale claim of frenchhood. They considered themselves french. Richard Lionheart though himself french and nothing else. He never learn english. He detested England and the people, for him they were merely sheep to be taxed and used as cannon fodder. One of the greatest problems in england’s society of the time was just this, they were indeed a country invaded and governed by french. The movie makes the mistake to assume that in that time England was english. England was french. And what was at stake back then was France itself. Richard Lionheart belonged to the House of Plantagenet, and back then they owned half of France. The very King Of France owned less territory then the Plantagenets themselves. If King Philip II had ever designs on the English kings, it would be to conquer the french possessions, not an invasion of England. Philip II would had more pressing matters in the mainland, where his real claims were, then to go invade an island up north.

    This also would makes the actions of the Godfried character portaited by Mark Strong less blatant traitrous. The high nobility of England of the time though themselves as french, being descendent from norman invaders. He must be one so, because he has a very close relationship with King John and the royal family himself. So, in his mind, he would be french. He was just going from one french monarch to another, he was just being more french.

    And then there’s the persistent anti-french attitude in the movie. Strange comming from Ridley Scott, who owns a house in France, who spends most of his time there, in the lovely province of Provence, and who evne made a whole movie which is a ove letter to the french countrisede, called “A Good Year”, in which also stared Russell Crowe (which also owns a house in Provence and is neightbour with Ridley) and the very lovely and gorgeaus french actress Marion Cottilard. The movie is xenophobic to the French. I don’t nkow if i was french, what i would thinkof this movie. Probably, there’s people in the streets of France burning copies of Blade Runner and Alien. Hell, most of the financing for KINGDOM OF HEAVEN came form France, for heaven’s sake! What the hell happened between Ridley and the french, anyway?

    All this to say, if anything,i would had more agravation against this movie then you do. Becasue i’m an history buff, and this movie, when it want,s does step all over history with abandon. And i take this very seriously, believe you me. And yet, i can’t claim this is a bad movie, worthy of a red light classification, and turning Ridley Scott into an enemy. Maybe i’m biased, since Stanley Kubrick died Scott became my favorite director. Maybe i’m excusing too much from the old man. Or maybe, you have just protested too much about this movie. It’s just a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with a bit of novelty approach, more centered on history, or at least, a version of history. It doesn’t reuse many of the most common tropes associated with the legend of robin Hood.

    And lo and behold, the englishmen, whom this is their legend, where it started there, have the least problems with it. One possible reason why, is that for them, they have dozens of different sourses and tellings of the tale. In USA, you only have the movie’s versions, which have been pretty similiar to one another except in details. Ironically, the english have a less conservative way to view the Robin Hood legend then the american public. Food for thoughs.

    Well, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood was a nice time at the theater for me. I found the first half stronger then the second. The historical license the mvoie takes does irk and rub me the wrong way, but the rest is strong filmmaking, typical of Ridley.

    In the end, it’s an entertaining but flawed movie, from my point of view as both a cinephile (=movie geek) and a history buff. And this flawed nature of Robin Hood is helping me resolving a dilemma i was having with myself since 2005, which is: who is my favorite director now? Ridley Scott or Christopher Nolan? Well, if Inception is half as good as i cautionaly suspect it is, then Nolan wins. Scott’s Robin Hood is a good movie, but i suspect Nolan’s Inception will be something more.

    Sorry for the extensive post, peace and love
    yours truly

  • AsimovLives

    And by the way, the movie you are psyching yourself about, THE A-TEAM, is produced by your new favorite enemy, Ridley Scott. And that is one movie i’m not psyching myself at all. The trailers all looked godawful to me.
    The movie i’m really psyching myself about is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and nothing else. That looks the business.

  • AsimovLives

    And all this notion that Robin Hood was to be Gladiator in Medieval England, that’s just the result of a bad publicity campaign. Frankly, that publicity for the movie rubbed me the wrong way, it felt wrong, so i didn’t give it any importance whatsoever. I ignored it. If you were lead to believe the movie was Gladiator Part II, you have yourselves to blame. Becasue the movie isn’t, and even the trailers were not good at trying to shove that idea.

    Really, what’s with you guys in USA mostly? You are so caried away by the advertizements. You are so easy to be sold by the publicity departments of the studios! Like, when you were so easily manipulated and fooled by the trailers and publicity campagn for El Abramanito’s Star Trek In Name Only so-called movie, so much so you got a really bad case of buyers loyalty most of you didn’t even see the disaster that was in front of your eyes. Is now hype more fun then the movies themselves?

    And really, people need to start seeign the difference between resenting a bad publicity/hype campaing and a bad movie. The two are not exactly the same thing.

  • MaryAnn

    This also happened with KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, which the theatrical version, evne though inferior to the later Director’s Cut, was still a good movie with losts of qualities, and yet it was much more accepted around the world then in the USA. So, there you have it, another example from not so long ago.

    Maybe, but then your argument falls apart. Because I liked that movie. So if cultural differences didn’t keep me from seeing what was good about that one, how did I allegedly miss what was good about *Robin Hood*?

    And all this notion that Robin Hood was to be Gladiator in Medieval England, that’s just the result of a bad publicity campaign.

    Possibly. But that still does not change the fact that the movie that is actually on the screen has no emotional content whatsoever.

  • AsimovLives

    “Because I liked that [Kingdom Of Heaven] movie”

    That’s more then can be said about most of your countrymen back then. Bravo!

    how did I allegedly miss what was good about *Robin Hood*?

    That, my good lady, i cannot answer. I observed, but i can’t explain. But there it is.

    But that still does not change the fact that the movie that is actually on the screen has no emotional content whatsoever.

    While i don’t fully agree, i really understand why you say that. I really do. It’s not the first time people have accused Ridley Scott’s movies of being emotionally distant and cold. It used to be one of the constant, most common complains about Blade Runner, for instance.

  • moviefan

    Kinda late to come back to this but as MJ seemed to enjoy IM2 ‘for what it is’ and despised Robin Hood, I thought I’d just say that I just got back from IM2, WTF? Some critics have the balls to say Ridley and Co. cut all the fun out of Robin Hood? Those who made IM2 sucked every bit of fun out of the original movie and made this one a slog to sit through. I think they rushed to get it made and that’s what happens when you do that; a lousy script, a horrible villain, and not much more than robots battling it out.

  • penguin

    I was enraged at this film before I even saw the trailer. I heard “Crowe” and “Scott” and I thought, Oh no. Gladiator in Sherwood. And the trailer annoyed me even more. Why does every single trailer now have to MEN, MANLY MEN in LEATHER, running through MUD and WATER in SLO MO going “ARRGHH!” with MUD and GRIME all over them while some overwrought soundtrack tries to make our pulses race? And this is supposed to be Robin Hood? The REAL Robin Hood? There was no real Robin Hood! He is a folk hero! A story! Don’t try to shoehorn him into your dubious “historical” epic. What next? They’ve already done this to English folk heroes like Robin Hood and King Athur. Maybe we should take some historical figures from America. How about a searing 2 1/2 hour movie about Johnny Appleseed, where he runs through MUD and goes “AAARGGH” in slow motion? Because we all know, slow-motion + choppy editing + grime + excessive violence = PROFUNDITY! Personally, I don’t want to see this rubbish, much as I think Cate Blanchette would make a great Marion if gaven a chance. I have seen all the other Robin Hoods, and I think the one I’ll go back to is the Robin Hood which also came out in 1993 but was sadly overshadowed by Prince of Theives (But you’re still the best Sherrif ever, Alan Rickman! I love you!), and is now barely known. It has Uma Thurman as an awesome Maid Marion, it is hilarious and fun without being silly or sacrificing any grit or reality. OK, rant over.

  • bronxbee

    @penguin: was that the one with Patrick Beregin as Robin Hood? that was a pretty decent movie, actually. RH: PoT was as much fun as it was because of Alan Rickman (and his hideous toady: “But… why a spoon, cousin?”).

  • bronxbee

    and i’d love to see more movies about our own myths and legends (the few we have) that would at least try to be inspiring. Mel Gibson’s The Patriot” was all right. but of course, the bad guy steals that movie too. a move about johnny appleseed (with or without slo mo) could be interesting. more films about george washington would be nice. how about Ben Franklin: Boy Wonder?

  • LaSargenta

    (from penguin) How about a searing 2 1/2 hour movie about Johnny Appleseed, where he runs through MUD and goes “AAARGGH” in slow motion?

    Excellent idea! Just as long as we don’t have to have Liam Neeson playing him. Nor Mel Gibson. In fact, maybe Liev Schreiber? Or some other tall american? (I always picture Appleseed as long-limbed for some reason.)

    But, mind you, I really don’t object to seeing Men In Leather…as a general rule, you know. Women in leather, too, is always nice as well.

    Despite the costumes, I’m not going to see Russell Crowe in A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. ever. Not at all. Can’t stand ‘im.

  • moviefan

    Y.O.U.R. L.O.S.S. as Crowe is one of the best working actors today with one of the best filmographies one could find.

  • LaSargenta

    Hey moviefan, yer entitled to yer opinion. I must say, I require believability in my films. Crowe is way too soft to be believable in any action role he has ever played. And he seems too much of a lunk to play the clever roles. Sorry. DeNiro did a much better job as Jake La Motta all those years ago than Crowe has done in anything.

    So wht if he has a great filmography? There’s lots of potential reasons for that, and they don’t have to be that he is that intrinsically great. Maybe the directors/casting/producers find him easy to work with, for example. Whatever.

  • Chris

    Sorry to see that film couldnt live up to the amazing standards of Mary Ann (ha ha ha…). Personally as one who enjoy’s the history of England, I rather enjoyed the film. Instead of just retelling the legend Scott gave a very realistic tale of how the legend could have came to pass and the power that an idea can have if the mass majority support it. Maybe the movie would have done better here if Scott had taken the time to make sure people really knew this was a prequel tale, not a retelling of the classic story. Also I though Crowe and Blanchett had great chemistry, and from what I could tell most of the theater accepted the two. While I wouldnt have a problem with Mary Ann giving the movie a wait for DVD grade, I must say that the skip it grade suprised me. This movie is worth anyone’s viewing who is interested in European history.

  • MaryAnn

    I enjoy the history of England, too, but this isn’t a documentary: it’s supposed to be a *story.* It’s supposed to have a compelling narrative. It’s supposed to have emotional content and characters we can care about. I didn’t see any of that here.

  • Chris

    I guess that is where we differ, I did care about the characters. I liked how it basically showed how King John pretty much made Robin Hood and also gave us the setup of the upcoming civil war. Also I enjoyed how the French were slapped for being French…

  • Deacon Jones

    This is the second movie this year (Green Zone was the first) that I’ve found totally unnecessary. I hate to find out that they were both written by Brian Helgeland, whose past work I’ve enjoyed.

    After seeing RH with another friend who was psyched to see it, I came out of it wondering why it had to be made. Did we really need another telling of this story and if so, did it have to be told like this? Visually, it reminded me more of a junior “Kingdom Of Heaven”, and at times it played as one. I like Ridley Scott’s movies, hell I even like “Legend”, both the US and Director’s versions. But RH was a big, empty hole down which I threw my time & money.

  • LaSargenta

    Interestingly, (at least to me) when my son and I watched the trailer for this together when we went to see Iron Man 2, afterwards I asked him if he wanted to see this movie. He is eight and likes action-adventure movies. His answer? “No, Mama. It doesn’t look that interesting and I think I’ve seen enough blood and guts already.”

    He does know a bit of the Robin Hood legend (the Howard Pyle book) already and I don’t think he has seen any movies about it. But, the trailer didn’t grab an eight-year-old. I think the movie probably fell down on the job.

  • Just saw Robin Hood today, and while I don’t think it was a horrible as some of the reviews are saying, it was definitely a mess of a film.

    They spent 2 hours building up this big battle scene at the end that was super lame and on the fucking beach of all places. Why the hell didn’t the archers just keep shooting all the French guys (SPOILERS) from the ridge… there was no reason for anyone to go fight hand down there; it was the absolute WORST place to storm the beach I’ve ever seen. Hey, let’s jump out into the water and hang out on the sand in a huge rock canyon with only one way out! Fucking retarded (no offense).

    Ugh, the whole thing was ridiculous… I can’t even put words to the dozens of nonsense things that happened, though I’m sure there are 30 minutes of deleted scenes that explain how everyone including King John knew “Sir Robert” was actually Robin Longstride. Sooo lame. Definitely way too much stuff for a 2.5 hour film.

    Then again, the BBC has shown us that a 26 episode series isn’t much better.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dear Misters Scott, Crowe, Glazer, and Helgeland,

    1) There is no such thing as a French ninja. And even if there were, they wouldn’t sneak around in chain mail and a shiny helmet.

    2) Robin Hood was the leader of his “Band of Merry Men”, not the leader of the Lost Boys. That was Peter Pan. Also, the Lost Boys didn’t ride ponies.

    3) At what point were you saying to yourself, “Robin Hood is a fine story and all, but what it’s really missing is a good villain”?

    Also, awful as Prince of Thieves was, Alan Rickman’s portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham is one of his Crowning Moments of Awesome. Seriously, it’s up there with Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday.

  • Dr. Rocketscience (Thu May 20 10, 11:03AM):

    3) At what point were you saying to yourself, “Robin Hood is a fine story and all, but what it’s really missing is a good villain”?

    Heh… exactly. Ugh, I hate this movie more and more as the hours pass since I’ve seen it.

  • MBI

    The sensation I felt watching the movie is the same one I felt watching Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” — whoever’s pet project this is, they just DID NOT get the source material. Who really wanted to see a Robin Hood movie where the climactic battle has Robin Hood fighting alongside and defending King John? This is such a grim and ugly mess of a movie.

    I will admit that accusers can readily accuse me of wanting a different Robin Hood movie. It’s perfectly true. I wanted the story of Robin Hood (and for all its flaws, Prince of Thieves is at least that; not so for Ridley Scott’s version). However, even supposing that a Gladiator/Braveheart version of Robin Hood wasn’t a miserably and shockingly misconceived notion (which I am probably not willing to do), would you compare this to Braveheart or Gladiator? Really? The romance between Marian and Robin is completely limp, and the driving force for Robin’s existence just doesn’t exist. When Robin kills Godfrey, it is painfully impersonal, and inspires nothing in the audience. Robin vs. Godfrey is not the culmination of a powerful and personal vendetta by any stretch of the imagination.

    This is like what I said about Iron Man 2 about a different thread; it’s not that it does anything badly as much as it fails to do anything well.

  • Russell

    I actually rather enjoyed what was there but, for what I paid for the ticket, I would still like to see the other 49 minutes of character-building scenes that it seems they cut. As hard as it is to find 3 hours for the occasional overly drawn out movie, the pacing here almost seemed to require it.

    The jumps in narrative from one scene to the next kept me constantly wondering if the projectionist wasn’t trying to speed up the process by omitting entire reels. I couldn’t help but groan as he’s suddenly declaring his love to this woman with virtually no endearing or intimate scenes leading up to this.

    I hope that the eventual director’s cut does for Robin Hood what it was able to do for Kingdom of Heaven.

  • JC

    This was a prequel movie so the next one will essentially tell the story of Robin Hood and his merry men living in Sherwood Forest with King John and the Sheriff on Nottingham hunting him down as an outlaw.

    It really is just part 1 of a likely trilogy so we are 1/3 of the way through a long movie.

    I don’t get why you would be so critical when you yourself described it as a back story film. As such, there is so much more to come. Why can’t you be patient???


  • Joanne

    I quite enjoyed Robin Hood as a bit of entertainment but I agree it was fairly emotionless. Matthew Macfadyen was underused as the Sheriff. Crowe’s accent was all over the shop (as were a couple of the others – I didn’t even realise Will Scarlett was supposed to be Welsh until a good half an hour in, and after that his accent wavered somewhat). The balance between action and humour was a bit uncertain too; there were some moments that were hilarious, but not many of them. Also, what was with the random small outlaws who served no purpose whatsoever until the end of the film? I don’t agree with the red light really, I’d have given it an amber, but I was in a mood for mindless historical violence when I saw it.

  • Brie

    I just went to see this movie last night. And I ended up seeing it twice, one right after the other. I’m not a Russell Crowe fan, and the only thing I’ve ever enjoyed seeing Cate Blanchett in was The Aviator, but I utterly adored the movie.

    This may be because I try to avoid trailers at all costs. I can’t stand the fact that I see things in trailers that never show up in the films, (i.e. “You complete me” from IM2 when RDJr leaps from the plane). I knew going into the movie that it wasn’t about the legend, that it was about what came before the legend. And I went in with no expectations about the movie. And I loved it.

    The historical inaccuracies were glaring, but despite being an avid fan of Medieval history, I couldn’t bring myself to care about them much. I thought that Marian and Robin’s love story was exactly what it should have been. They were finding their way to each other, because the legend is where the true story begins. And this wasn’t the legend. It says at the end of the movie, “And so the Legend begins.” This wasn’t claiming to be anything other than it was. And if you were expecting the legend, the first five minutes when they spoke of Robin Longstride, and what was going to happen in the future after he returned home, should have disabused you of the notion.

    Robin Hood is a legend, this is true. Whether a man of this kind existed or not, it is still a legend, and as such is mostly fairy tale. But this movie wasn’t about a legend . . . it was about a man who would become a legend. And as such, the movie did a good job of portraying what it was supposed to. The man portrayed in this movie had faults, glaring ones, and he was not perfect. His lady was not perfect, nor was the circumstances they found themselves in.

    If King John was such a good king, then why did the Barons need the Magna Carta? And why has no king since, been named John? I don’t agree with how the movie claimed the Charter came to be, but I love the fact that they DID touch on it. You really can’t talk about King John Plantagenet without some flicker of knowledge of the document passing through your head. It was a crucial moment in John’s reign, and it will define his monarchy for the rest of history and into posterity. Our children will learn of this document in their classrooms, due to its continued relevance even today. This document redefined the right of kings, and gave us some of the most crucial rights that we take for granted today. And even if its beginnings were inaccurately portrayed in this movie, at least it was acknowledged at all.

    Even as an ignorant, cultureless and barbaric American, I genuinely enjoyed this film. I can see why Britain’s people would so love this film. It is a section of their history that brought the Briton people hope in a time when there was none. I can even understand if the French hate it, because it was rather anti-French . . . although considering the Hundred Years War which happened after this movie’s time period, between England and France, I’m not so sure this was a completely inaccurate portrayal of relations between the two countries. Because yes, the English kings considered themselves French, but how did the French King feel, I wonder? When English kings owned more of his own country, than he did? That hatred probably festered for a lot longer than history tells us it does.

    I apologize for the lengthiness of this post. But I felt strongly about this movie, as I’m sure the rest of you did. And I needed to express my own opinions openly. So again, I apologize and I will leave this missive here.

  • penguin

    @bronxbee: Because it’s dull, you twit! It’ll hurt more! I do legitimately think there should be more film about American folk heroes. The Patriot is awesome, but it doesn’t really could because it’s such blatant fiction. I hate how sanitized it is…the scenes on the beach where the happy colonists party to ethnic music with happy “oh we’re not slaves” black people, with not even a tinge of racial tensions, make me want to gag every time. The filmmakers were so eager to make the American characters likeable that they all (except for Mel Gibson who has a well-written part) come of as disgusting, preachy, unlikeable and unrealistic morons. It’s partly because of this that the “villain”, Jason Isaac, comes off as so sexy, wonderful and likeable, even as he shoots children and burns whole town in churches. Sigh….

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