Review: Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, Mark Strong, William Hurt and Danny Huston

Director: Ridley Scott

When I first heard about this movie, I groaned and rolled my eyes. Does the world really need another Robin Hood movie? I’m still recovering from Kevin Costner’s dreadful effort. Still, I’m a sucker for historical movies so I thought I’d give it a try.

Ridley Scott doesn’t seem able to make a movie these days without calling for Russell Crowe and asking if he can come out and play. And while Robin Hood may seem like Maximus Hood on the outside, it’s a better film than Gladiator. Throwing out much of what you would expect from a story about the famous outlaw, this is instead an origin movie. Setting itself around historical events, Robin Hood explores how the man developed his penchant for the redistribution of wealth. Beginning as a bowman for Richard the Lionheart’s crusades, Robin Longstride returns to England after the King’s death to find the country subject to the tyranny of the new King, John, and the machinations of Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong in his default ‘evil’ setting), who is secretly aiding a French invasion. Robin (not a merry man) travels to Nottingham, with three of his comrades (who actually are merry men) in tow, to return the sword of a fallen soldier. There he meets Marian (not so merry) and takes the role of her dead husband in order to save her land. From here he begins his journey toward becoming the world’s most famous hoodie.

Scott has a talent for big scale battle scenes, and Robin Hood is bookended by two of his best. The siege of Chalus-Chabrol at the beginning and the beach defeat of the French army at the end are both beautifully realised. Crowe carries the movie with his usual surly manner, albeit with a sometimes dodgy accent, and he is ably supported by Blanchett and an excellent Von Sydow. Mark Strong seems to be permanently stuck in the role of dastardly villain, but hopefully he’ll be able to elevate himself beyond that in Hollywood, as he did on British TV for years.

Ridley Scott decides to take a few historical liberties.

Robin Hood was a lot better than I expected it to be, certainly the freshest and most realistic interpretation of the legend to be put on celluloid. There are a few historical inaccuracies, but they are minor quibbles, rendered irrelevant by the mythical nature of the subject, anyway.

Rating - 4 Stars

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  2. deborahatherton

    Okay, maybe now I’ll rent it. It’s interesting that they don’t have the usual “Richard comes back to save the day” in this movie, as you describe it. I guess it depends where you situate Robin Hood in the Crusades.

    It’s funny how directors and actors get attached, isn’t it? The way Tim Burton can’t do anything without Johnny Depp. It probably ultimately works out to the audience’s benefit.

    1. Richard

      There are a few directors who have an ‘alter ego’ actor. Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, James Cameron and Bill Paxton. Martin Scorsese used to be married to Robert De Niro, but left him for Leonardo DiCaprio. ;-)

  3. rtm

    Interesting, glad to hear someone who didn’t rip this to shreds. I like this one too Richard, but I raised an eyebrow reading that this is a better film than Gladiator. I must say I wholeheartedly disagree on that, but you should expect that from a staunch supporter of the great Maximus :) (I dedicated a long post of that movie at FC) In fact, I think Ridley tried to capture the glory of Gladiator with this one but didn’t quite make it, but it doesn’t mean it’s horrible attempt.

    1. Richard

      I thought I’d be opening myself up to some disagreement with that comparison, but the truth is I wasn’t very impressed with Gladiator. It was okay, but a little too overblown and cheesy for my liking. Robin Hood was more grounded.

      Still, having just got back from a trip to Italy, and a visit to the Colosseum (where we discovered a stall selling Maximus helmets), I’ve got the urge to watch Gladiator again. ;-)

      1. rtm

        Give it another shot, Richard, the movie deserved it! Oh boy, I didn’t see that stall selling Maximus helmet when I was there a few years back, I’d have totally bought that! :)

  4. joem18b

    I liked the movie OK, tho I felt as if Blanchett were slumming a bit by hooking up with Crowe.

    Just once, to make a point, I’d like to see a director make Richard stick to French, since he didn’t speak English.

    And I’m already ready for someone else to have a go at Robin, especially an Englishman, for a change.

    1. Richard

      I had the same thought about the English speaking Richard, but it was a minor quibble. It is pretty funny that he hasn’t been played by an Englishman in so long.

      Thanks for dropping by. :-)

  5. Castor

    Glad you enjoyed this movie Richard. It doesn’t reach the greatness of Gladiator but certainly, it was a solidly entertaining movie. I still can’t comprehend why a fraction of the reviews were so negative.

  6. returntothe80s

    Wow, maybe I’ll rent this now. All I’ve heard was how horrible this movie is. When I first saw the preview of it in the theater, I thought it looked awesome. But, after hearing so many awful reviews on it, I was afraid to spend my money and time on this. I’ll probably give this a shot.

  7. Rik

    Better than Gladiator, hmmm (stroking my chin). What makes Gladiator so good is the CGI, it’s a little drawn out in my opinion.

    I in fact really enjoyed this film, Robin Hood is a favorite legend of mine and i am eager to watch anything that relates to it, even the BBC series.

    What i liked about this film was it’s twist on the glamorous tale you usually hear about with Robin Hood. I enjoyed the sabotage, treason and corruption which forced his path.

    In all a very enjoyable rented title which i could be tempted to buy if I see it in HMV Bluray sale. Will there be a Scott classic directors cut?

    1. Richard Post author

      I knew that claiming a preference for Robin Hood over Gladiator would earn me some frowns, and chin strokes. I recently watched Gladiator again and enjoyed it more than I had done before, but there’s still something overblown about it that puts me off. Robin Hood was more understated and I liked that.

      And there’s ALWAYS a Director’s Cut with Scott. ;-)


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