Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and Max von Sydow
Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator)
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content
Appropriate for ages 13+
Loosely based on the what we wish would be the current situation in California, a soldier comes home from fighting in the war only to find his countrymen being overtaxed by the tyrants who run the land, so using his skills as a leader and his abilities as a fighter he leads a revolution. Oh, wait, that was the Robin Hood we used to know. This Robin Hood tells the tale of the man that would later become that famous man that steals from the rich and gives to the poor. It tells the origin of how Robin Longstride went from being a soldier in the King’s army to being a champion of the people. And if the film makes enough money, perhaps we can watch him become a champion of the people some day too.
This is a difficult film to review because while watching it I knew I wasn’t enjoying it, but I couldn’t figure out why. The directing by Ridley Scott was tremendous. He really knows what he is doing with films like this. It is his calling to produce magnificent period pieces.
And the acting is really great as well, Especially by Crowe and Blanchett. Crowe gives everything he has to a role and this intensity is truly admirable. He is still one of my favorite actors even though he just made another movie I didn’t care for too much.
After much careful thought, it really does come down to the script. The original concept of the film, where the Sheriff of Nottingham was the hero and Robin Hood the villain was scrapped for this more traditional idea and the spec script sale which was handsomely paid out to Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris was switched out to writer Brian Helgeland (Mystic River) where I’m assuming the story took on a completely new life. It makes me wonder why Universal bought the original script to begin with, but we’ll never know that one.
What we do know is that the point of the film is to put the story of Robin Hood in complete historical context. The filmmakers wanted to ask the question of “why does Robin Hood need to steal from the rich to give to the poor?” They needed a script that gave a really strong political answer and the only way to do that was to bog the whole film down with detail after detail which made the movie so very boring. Another thing that leads the film to slow down is that Robin gets his way too easily. Everything is too convenient. He escapes from his shackles to find the right uniforms to get on a ship to get back to England where he is openly accepted as a member of Maid Marion’s family. It’s almost silly, and unfortunately not Men in Tights silly.
Also, one thing that every successful Robin Hood film to date has had in common is that they have all been fun. This one strips the fun right out and converts it into a historical war drama. But then the big historical war drama gets stripped of most of its violence. While I don’t think a film like this needed blood and guts everywhere, I do think that if you are to create this kind of movie, it needs to be R-rated. PG-13 doesn’t cut it. This looked like the airplane version of the movie and not the epic it could have been.
But I still don’t think the added violence could have helped the much needed script problems which I think will ultimately lead to a distracted and uninterested audience. C-