Birth of a legend. Following King Richard's death in France, archer Robin Longstride, along with Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale and Little John, returns to England. They encounter the dying Robert of Locksley, whose party was ambushed by treacherous Godfrey, who hopes to facilitate a French invasion of England. Robin promises the dying knight he will return his sword to his father Walter in Nottingham. Here Walter encourages him to impersonate the dead man to prevent his land being confiscated by the crown, and he finds himself with Marian, a ready-made wife. Hoping to stir baronial opposition to weak King John and allow an easy French take-over, Godfrey worms his way into the king's service as Earl Marshal of England and brutally invades towns under the pretext of collecting Royal taxes. Can Robin navigate the politics of barons, royals, traitors, and the French? Written by
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Giannina Facio is the woman who played the wife of Maximus in Gladiator (2000). She can also be seen briefly in a background scene in this film, apparently as Marshal's wife. See more »
The real Isabella of Angoulême was not the niece of King Philip II of France. She was the only daughter and heir of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême, and 12 years old at the time of her marriage to King John. Isabella was originally betrothed to Hugh IX le Brun, Count of Lusignan, son of the then Count of La Marche. As a result of John's temerity in taking her as his second wife, King Philip II of France confiscated all of their French lands, and armed conflict ensued. Unlike in the film, Eleanor of Aquitaine readily accepted her as John's wife. Ironically, after John's death, she married Hugh X of Lusignan, the son of her original fiancé. See more »
Let's get a couple things out of the way: Robin Hood is not real, he is a legendary character and is, for all intents and purposes, wholly fictitious, yet set in 12th century England. Since the whole story is made-up, you can make the villains anyone you want, set it in any year you want, and have the plot go pretty much anywhere you feel like. That being said, the story of Robin Hood is so iconic that messing with any of the following will severely hurt the feel of the story: robs from the rich and gives to the poor, Sherwood Forest, Maid Marion, The Merry Men, Friar Tuck, Prince/King John, The Sheriff of Nottingham, archery, England, and King Richard. You can get by with a few tweaks here and there, combining villains, offing King Richard, and minor characters eliminated/added, but if you eliminate everything but the names you end up with the dreadful film directed by Ridley Scott.
The movie really boils down to: Robin Hood comes back to England after the death of King Richard as he was returning from the third crusade and finds English traitors working with the French to destabilize and invade England. Robin helps lead an army to combat the invaders and saves England, then is branded an outlaw and slips away into the forest as the screen fades to "So the legend begins" and the credits roll.
So what went wrong? In a nutshell, everything except the kitchen sink (and only because indoor plumbing hadn't been invented yet). Russell Crowe could have been a cadaver in chain mail and been more interesting and exciting. In this film Robin Hood has been stripped of everything that made the character worthy of legend. There are no merry men, Sherwood Forest is a footnote, The Sheriff of Nottingham is more like a prop than a character, King Richard is dead, Friar Tuck is a twit, the romance with Maid Marion is mostly left to your imagination, the villains keep waffling on their villainy, and robbing from the rich to give to the poor is still in the planning stage; all because the movie is a prequel that is set before Robin Hood became a legendary folk hero. Why on God's green earth would you want to take such a legendary story and turn it into a "before they were famous" piece. Nobody cares what Robin Hood did before he became the legendary outlaw because it's interminably boring, as this film clearly shows.
Most of the characters are woefully underdeveloped and appear in the film only because they are "supposed" to be there. The action sequences aren't impressive in any way but they did make me wonder exactly when a peasant archer (Robin Hood) came across the skills of horseback riding, swordsmanship, and mounted combat. To be fair, all the other peasant archers had horses too, so why not I suppose? The battle sequences were less than spectacular and held precisely zero suspense. I noted English casualties were next to nothing during the final climactic encounter with the invading French army, so I guess there was a little suspense because I was wondering if any English soldiers would get killed at all.
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