Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

"Rise...and Rise Again...and Again...and Again"

Every fifteen years or so, there must be a big budget remake of the "Robin Hood" legend—that's a bit less than the turnaround cycle for The Compleate Works of Jane Austen. The last time the fletches flew on the big screen there were two competing Hoods—the flashy Kevin Reynolds/Kevin Costner version and one starring Patrick Bergin. Before them was "Robin and Marian," various series, and "The Adventures of Robin Hood," the Warner Bros. classic with Errol Flynn, which was itself a remake of silent versions. Then, there have been satiric vignettes in "Shrek" and "Time Bandits,"* Mel Brooks has done a movie ("Men in Tights") AND a series ("When Things Were Rotten")—Mel loves his Public Domain. Disney has touched on it a couple times as well, including an animated funny animals version.

The character and his ancillary co-stars have a long oral tradition with many variations of "The Hode," so it's natural that someone drums him up for another "Have at ye" every few years, each reflecting the times in which they were made. Robin has been yeoman and nobleman, Crusader and thief, trickster and military man, young and old. Although we've been down this well-trod pathe in the glenne before, it was interesting to think about what the "
Gladiator" team of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe could do with the story, and how they would approach it.

And the answer is: with a little bit of everything.
Scott with the help of scenarist Brian Helgeland** has a Robin Hood, an orphan Saxon Crusading with Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston-he's great in this), who's an expert bowman and strategist by day, and a grifter by night. At the end of the Crusades, he is given a task, the complications of which lead him to Nottingham and the masquerade of being Robert Loxley, slain son of Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) and spouse of Lady Marian Loxley (Cate Blanchett)—this Robin is both commoner and gentry. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew McFadyen) is not given much to do this time 'round, instead the intrigues are by Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) and King Phillip of France, who plot to undermine the already shaky reign of the new King John (
Oscar Isaac), the last son of King Henry and Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins), and invade England.

The general structure of "Robin Hood" is superficially similar to “Gladiator” with big battles at both ends, and Scott uses the same stutter-shutter technique to give some verve to the action scenes. But there it ends. Crowe is considerably lighter as Robin Hood, though he does summon up genuine moments of drama. Performances are fine all around withCate Blanchett and William Hurt being stand-outs. But the best performance is by Max von Sydow as the elderly Sir Walter. Blind, but nobody’s fool, Sir Walter takes the news of his son’s death with grim determination and courtesy for its messenger, and comes up with the Robin-as-Loxley ruse to protect Marion from having their land confiscated should he die. Von Sydow has been ill-used of late, playing teutonic villains of similar coldness, but this role shows him at full thespian power, and it would be robbery if he was not nominated for an Oscar for this performance.

The film boasts good values all around, with Scott’s keen eye for cinematography and detail, the writing is clever and often ingenious (I think the fact that it's
another Robin Hood movie sours a lot of people's expectations). The film never drags and offers considerable entertainment value. Only at the end does it falter, with a beach battle that seems overly-stretched in terms of production value and credibility. Either there was not enough planning or extras, but it looks to be constructed to not show something as opposed to creating an epic battle. Too much is made of the presence of landing craft as obstacles, and of one particular participant in the clamor, which seems to be done for scoring political points rather than good story-telling.

But that is twenty minutes out of 140. For the most part, this new “
Robin Hood” hits its mark. Yes, it might be superfluous (we can say this—with a straight face—with so many sequels headed our way?), but what's there on the screen is an interesting "take" on the legend that has lasted so long.

"Robin Hood" is a Matinee.

* John Cleese's immaculate nobleman with a "Bonny Prince Charlie" manner is one of my favorites.

** The original script, by the team of Ethan Rieff and Cyrus Voris, called "Nottingham," was more radical, but interesting in a concept-twist kind of way, but once Ridley Scott came on board, the concept changed.


4 comments:

The Mad Hatter said...

Aw man...it looks like we both liked it equally...what fun is that? I can't argue in the comments section this time.

*sigh* Guess it's gonna be a long day at the office today...

Yojimbo_5 said...

Sorry, dude. Great minds think alike...occasionally.

Don't you think von Sydow was award-worthy-great?

The Mad Hatter said...

Totally! Felt very peter O'Toole-esque in several spots.

Of course, I kept getting slightly distracted because the guy in Robin's entourage who kept striking up a tune on his lute is the lead singer of a canadian celtic band that I really dig.

Unknown said...

Watch robin hood 2010 full movie free on zmovies now. For a "prequel to the Robin Hood legend," casting surly, bitter-looking actors in their 40s as Robin and Marian was the first mistake. The bigger problem, though, was the completely joyless, humorless approach to the Robin Hood story. This movie is just straight revenge porn: Richard dead right off the bat to remove any promise of better times to come, evil Frenchmen locking villagers into barns to burn them alive, gratuitous killings of sympathetic characters for no better reason than to set up a revenge scenario, etc. And don't get me started on the wooden WW2-style landing craft in the "reverse D-day" finale. The whole thing feels like a remake of Gladiator in medieval England, with characters randomly assigned names from the Robin Hood legend. The feel-bad movie of the summer. Click los movies watch movies free now.

See more: Robin hood 2018 review – Movie review coming soon

The only positive thing I can say about this film is the excellent production and filming. What a melange of near incomprehensible accents! Russell Crowe - Australian, Cate Blanchett - Australian, Max von Sydow - Scandinavian. Much of the dialogue is barely intelligible. The lines spoken in French had subtitles (the only lines I could understand with my high school French!). This is unlike any Robin Hood you may have seen before. Of course there was only ONE Robin Hood - Errol Flynn. All others are only feeble imitations. The battle scenes were impressive. But Robin fighting with a long handled hammer??? Admittedly it was effective against the helmeted French, but, as I said, unlike any other Robin Hood. And the landing craft for the French Fleet? Did they buy discarded WWII LST's used to land our Allied Forces on Normandy Beach? Overly long, overly talky, they could have talked the French to death. Definitely a disappointment and, in my book (and my wife's) not worth seeing. At least Mel Brooks' version "Men in Tights" gave us a few laughs.

See more: Robin Hood cast - – Hot film 2018