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
don @ minifie-1
Solid is the keyword. From the screenplay, to the cinematography and the performance, the film is based on solid grounding. Indeed, we couldn't imagine less from the people assembled on the project. And the first signs are indeed good, starting as an origin story that traces Robin's steps returning from the Crusades and arriving in Nottingham. The plot is immediately both compelling and fresh with regards to the well known tale.
The first problem we run into is that the film never allows itself to linger. This creates two problems: the sense of purpose it reaches for through urgency has a tendency to be lost to aimlessness, and the characters never have the space to generate real depth of emotion.
Imagine only this: Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett and William Hurt together have collected three Oscars, and an additional nine nominations. Yet it it's hard to lavish praise on their performances, because they never manage to inspire empathy as well as we might wish. The sense of urgency - of imminent physical danger to their person, of the crucial importance of their quest - never quite strikes home.
The screenplay doesn't always help them. It attempts to give the tale a strong moral foundation, by associating it with burgeoning democratic ideals in feudal Britain, unconvincingly: suspension of disbelief failed this reviewer.
For both these reasons, the epic sense of greatness that saturates Mr. Scott's similar works never works in this one. Indeed, in the anticipated climax of the battle, slow motion shots fall flat, and emotion never reaches an expected high, in spite of the film's competence in the action scenes.
This is a work that strangely echoes others, as well. People will be drawn to comparisons with Gladiator; these aren't particularly relevant beyond Russell Crow's similar (yet less engaging) performance. Rather, Robin's journey from the crusades and through England, in which he prospers on fateful luck and earned respect, copies Ridley Scott's own Kingdom of Heaven. In their themes and ambition these three films are alike, but Robin Hood doesn't thrive from the comparison. Where flaws are shared, what made the other two great is oddly lacking in this latest historical epic from the director.
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