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.
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.