Newest Review: ... of his other work, Gladiator included but good nonetheless. The sets don't seem as convincing as some other of Scotts historical pieces... more
The outlaw tale with a bit of a difference
Robin Hood  (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Robin Hood  (DVD)
Advantages: Acting; casting; direction and FX
Disadvantages: Nothing really
One of the first things I heard about this latest 'blockbuster' featuring Robin Hood was that it takes a different slant on the film, and this rather intrigued me. I went in to the film not really sure of what to expect, knowing only that an impressive lineup, including the tried and tested actor/director combination of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, could surely only add to my enjoyment of the legendary who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
You don't often hear whether people are familiar with the truth element of Richard the Lionheart. He wasn't King of England for very long, and the majority of the time he was away fighting the Crusades, but he most definitely was King. The film takes this and starts off abroad, with Richard an aggressive fighter whose men adored him. Among his archers we meet Robin Longstride, humble archer, nothing more and nothing less. Chance events lead to Richard's death, as well as that of Robert Loxley, a Knight who makes Robin promise to return his sword back to his father in England.
This is where the link comes into things with the legend that we know well. The quirky change is that we don't have Robin of Loxley as the main character, but Random Robin (as I like to know him) who meets the true heir of Loxley and pledges to fulfill his dying wish. Back in England, a sort of second plot element takes over, as the evil and vicious 'Godfrey', who is English/French 'when it suits me' plans to overthrow the English throne by setting everyone against each other. Naturally, there's only one man who can unite the people and fight the impending French invasion.
The rest of the historical side is a bit of a blur to me, so I hesitate in including any other 'facts' I may think I know. The film certainly made sense from start to finish, aside from one minor element featuring a tenuous link that made me shake my head, muttering, 'As if!' It hardly impacts on the film, though, which has a strong plot.
The acting is very good, but a nod must go to the casting director as much as the actors themselves. Crowe is on fine form as Random Robin, with a generous dose of Gladiator's Maximus about him to help the proceedings. His Northern accent has moments of brilliance, with the occasional Australian twang - to be expected. Support from Cate Blanchett is brilliant, as is that of Max Von Sydow, Mark Addy (brilliant casting as Friar Tuck), Kevin Durand and William Hurt. Mark Strong must take a bow as Godfrey. If ever an evil villain there was, Strong's your man to play it, as he's making himself a brilliant little niche that should have offers flooding through his door.
Scott's direction is flamboyant but appropriate, as you'd expect. Nothing goes too far over the top, and there is some good fight choreography. At times, you think he almost lets things run away from him in terms of making it realistic, but I was impressed with how basic he actually kept things. I expected perhaps a touch more of the complicated elements, but mainly he relied on clever camera angles, a brilliantly cast group of actors, and some well created visual effects.
The special effects, in particular the fast moving scenes and arrow trajectory filming, were very good indeed. At no point did I wonder whether something had been altered by a computer, and if it wasn't, then hats off to all involved.
The film won't be everyone's cup of tea, as it doesn't hold any great depth in terms of characterisation or plot. What it does do, though, is establish familiar ground with the Robin Hood tale, and is almost like a precursor to most films that have been made featuring the archer. I liked Scott's take on proceedings, and expect a sequel to be on the horizon. I highly recommend it - well worth watching.
Summary: Very good Ridley Scott version of the legendary outlaw