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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had very high expectations and who wouldn't? Ridley Scott directing a
great adventure with a very solid cast and a high budget.
The movie didn't really start the way I thought it would. The pace was quite slow but very interesting, and I was gripped. The interaction between Robin and his fellow soldiers was quite believable and entertaining, and the story about the English crown succession was also nicely done.
The entire chapter about Nottingham and its citizens is also at a nice and slow pace, but its never dull. Von sydow is a pleasure to see as usual, and both Crowe and Cate Blanchett delivers. You just sit and smile, when things suddenly goes very very wrong...
It starts when Walter Loxley explains Robins past to him. The scene is rushed and it seems a bit far-fetched. Also the following scene when robin goes to the meeting of the barons. Ridley must at this time peeked at his watch and noticed that he let most of the movie pass without telling much, and start to massacre the script.
The Nottingham action scene is where it's starting to go seriously wrong. You can't really get to understand how Robin suddenly is in command of an army, and speaking to lords as their equal. Especially when they call him by his common name in a scene later. The pace is really off here too... Action scene-Action scene-Short grief scene- Love scene- And on horseback against the French again in a 5min gap. Set in contrast to the feelgood mode you were in this is a very rude awakening.
After this you are handed a fighting scene that is absurd in every way. The landing craft is from WW2 (what possible use does the landing bridge have on these boats?). The battle is a slaughter, the French never stand a chance(not very interesting).
When suddenly Marion appears on the beach with the local teenage runaways on ponies I just shake my head... why?! It's just stupid?! Also they seem to be trained by ninjas and easily takes on trained French soldiers.
There is an ending after, but its thrown together in five minutes.
In one line.
This movie had a lot of potential, but it's thrown away on hasted parts and plain stupid scenes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to see Robin Hood with an open mind. I didn't read any of the
reviews, I didn't watch any of the previews, and early on I thought
that it was a pretty good film with a few loose ends that would surely
be wrapped up by the ending. I was wrong. Nothing got wrapped up and
there were so many plot holes and loose ends that left this movie a
disaster of a film. Here are just a few examples:
1) Who are the kids in the forest with The Strangers masks on their faces?
2) What happened to Prince John's first wife? We see her looking through a keyhole at her husband in bed with another woman but that's it. John tells his mother that he has written to the pope seeking an annulment but his mother tells him that it will never be granted. So happened to her?
3) Early on, the priest who is leaving Nottingham to deliver the grain tells Marion Loxley that she can't have the grain because "she reaps what she sows." What did Marion Loxley, other than conveniently leaving all her grain in a storage shed outside the main walls, do to deserve this "reap what you sow" punishment?
4) Robin comes to Nottingham and schemes with the Loxley's to pretend to be Robert Loxley who has been gone for 10 years. No one in the village catches on so we are to believe that EVERYONE in Nottingham either a) are new to Nottingham and didn't know Robert Loxley before he left or b) conveniently forgot what Robert Loxley looked like?
5) Robin tells us that his motivation for returning to England is to seek land and fortune. He's there to take advantage of the situation. Marion Loxley has him sleeping on the floor with dogs and they have no apparent relationship other than keeping up with the scheme that Robin is Robert Loxley. Why then does Robin go out of his way and risk life and fortune to help Marion get her grain back?
6) Robin gets the grain back and we see a small group of them casually tossing the grain around on the ground. When Marion Loxley wakes from her afternoon nap Robin tells her that her fields have been planted all 5,000 acres??
7) If you want to remember forgotten things from your childhood all you have to do is close your eyes and vivid flashbacks will suddenly appear.
8) The French had landing craft Saving Private Ryan style in the 12th century?
9) We see an army of horsemen riding fast through the mountains to get to the beach to meet the French landing craft. Before they go down to the beach they decide the horsemen will ride to the beach and foot archers will fire from the cliff side. What archers? In the battle scene we see thousands of arrows striking down the French on the beach? Where did they come from because they obviously didn't ride in with the horsemen? Did they fly in on helicopters?
10) Before the battle on the beach against the French I thought, "This is going to be a slaughter." It was. That is supposed to be interesting how?
11) Where is England's standing army? You know the tens of thousands of men in red uniforms with swords, bows and arrows, cavalry, pikes, and all that shiny equipment like we saw in the movie Braveheart?
12) We see Prince John an arrogant young man with a mistress in his bed early in the movie, then he confidently fires William Marshal and sets Godfrey off to the north with an army to collect taxes. Then when civil war "unexpectedly" sets off Godfrey is suddenly "not the friend that he thought he was" and John seeks to unify the angry mob because England conveniently doesn't have a standing army. Robin interrupts the meeting, gives a little speech, and they all ride off to war together. Then before the beach battle scene we see that John is useless because although he is suppose to be leading the army he doesn't know how to place the troops and instead relies on William Marshal to make a battle plan. In the battle we see that John is just a bumbling idiot, swinging his sword around randomly even after the battle is over. But in the VERY next scene we see that John is confident again, going against his word to sign the charter and declaring Robin to be an outlaw. Will the real King John please stand up?
13) Somehow on the battle on the beach, even though they were just fighting victoriously along side one another, we are supposed to believe that King John is jealous of Robin because the French surrendered to him? King John asks William Marshal, "Who did the French surrender to?" and William Marshal points to Robin. The thing is, it seemed to me that the French didn't surrender to anyone. The King of France ordered his boat to turn around so they could "fight another day". Was the whole "they surrendered to Robin" just thrown in to move the plot along?
14) How did King John determine that Robin was lying about his identity?
15) What is the motivation for the kids with The Strangers masks on their faces? Early on they are evil looking thieves who steal the grain from Marion Loxley but by the end of the movie they are little ninja warriors on ponies fighting not just alongside Marion, but being led by her.
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.
Robin Hood is a very professionally made film. Great actors, great
production design, great images. It is nice to watch because you feel
you are in the capable hands of Ridley Scott. But do not expect to be
amazed by the story or the acting. Apart from dame Marion, the
characters are two dimensional and predictable. The film pretends to be
historically correct, but is of course a well dressed fantasy. There
are a few battle scenes, filmed in the Gladiator way. They are
exciting, but not very convincing. In fact, they are completely
ridiculous when you think you are watching a historically correct film.
The worst for me were the boats in the final battle, apparently trying
to induce a D-Day feeling.
Overall, the story is off balance. Some scenes have a very slow pace, while other scenes, often key elements that explain how Robin Hood came into existence, are reduced to a few shots and proclamations. The end of the film tells it all: it reminds us that we were supposed to see the story of how the legend of Robin Hood started. The makers just forgot to tell it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really resent having to pay money to watch a second rate prequel.
Didn't anyone from the studio see the final cut before release? What were they thinking about? Come on guys, a little historical research (even for a fantasy film like this) wouldn't have done any harm.
This movie was a collection of nonsense from start to finish. OK, Robin Hood is a character from fiction and story tellers are at liberty to use this character as they wish but surely some historical context or realism are necessary to allow the suspension of belief?
The French landing did not happen.
Magna Carta is an important part of our history and should not be messed around like this.
Don't get me started on the geographical screw-ups. Do the film makers have any idea how far it is from Nottingham to the South Coast? Or where the White Horse is? Idiots.
But it is only a movie and I have been happy to sit through other films that have mangled history to a worse extent than this, so what was wrong?
The script, the absence of plot, ludicrous casting, bizarre accents, poor lighting and cinematography, inaudible dialogue (thanks), unexplained background characters and hours and hours and hours of nothing happening all add up to a momentous car crash of a movie.
Did I mention it was derivative? It stole the best parts of the Robin Hood legend, Saving Private Ryan, the Disney animated classic and Braveheart and wasted them.
Do not waste your time on this or the inevitable sequel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, here is he awful truth:
1. Apparently a Stone Mason wrote the Magna Carter (Robin's Father) 2. Although a humble archer, Robin within a matter of weeks becomes the King's right hand man in battle 3. Apparently in 13th century England, the French had 20th Century warefare technology 4. Apparently French soldiers can row their way across the channel in canoes and then jump out and fight(although earlier in the film the channel is so perilous that a big English boat barely makes it across and it took overnight to cross) 5. King John never signed the Magna Carter 6. Russell Crowe can do a number of English accents - unfortunately, he just couldn't choose one 7. Cate Blanchett is very good at channelling Katherine Hepburn 8. Apparently Marion is psychic because she recognises the man who killed her father-in-law in battle without having ever laid eyes on her 9. Marion although having worked on a farm in Nottingham for 10 years is a skilled soldier and killed wield an axe better than most of the French and British soldiers 10. Everyone in the town of Nottingham is so stupid that they don't realise that Robin is impersonating Robert of Loxley who is about 20 years his senior, blonde and looks nothing like Russell Crowe.
Don't see it - it's not worth your coin. I'm so disappointed because I love Cate Blanchett and Crowe is usually very good. But this is just bad story telling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To begin with, it sucked. Now let me tell you why.
Once upon a time, an archer named Rusty was the most noble and educated archer in King Richard's army. So noble and educated, in fact, that when he pretends to be a knight, no one can even tell the difference. So this noble and educated Archer ends up gaining the trust of all the barons in England, and leads them (and the King, mind you) in an heroic assault upon the French. In fact, when the French surrender, they do not surrender to the King of England, but to the noble archer named Rusty. That is the sum total of the film's plot. It has only a passing reference to the well-known story of Robin Hood. Oh, right. And at the end, the King is so incensed that the French surrendered to Rusty instead of him so he outlaws Rusty, and names him 'Robin Hood', and thus begins the legend.
So what, I hear you ask, are the actual flaws in the film? Well, firstly, it is that Robin is clearly a noble and well-educated man, rather than a dirty Englishman who has been fighting for the last 10 years in Palestine. Given the storyline, it would have been so much better had Rusty been a common soldier, given that he then pretends to be a nobleman.
Secondly, everyone listens to Rusty, as if only he really knows what he is talking about. No one else has any idea how to fight, and even the King of England listens to him.
Thirdly, it appears that the main group who eventually become the merry men of Sherwood Forest are in fact a bunch of dirty English children who have run away from their mothers in Nottingham because all their fathers are away fighting in the Crusades, and now they pillage their own families and hide in the forest.
Fourth, the French are so inept that this bunch of dirty English children ride into battle against the French army and _aren't_ completely slaughtered. Heck, anyone can grab a sword and kill a bunch of seasoned warriors - it's only the French for goodness sake!
Fifth, anyone can pass for a knight, even an archer. After all, the only difference between a knight and a peasant is the clothes they wear.
Sixth, it is only when an old man tells him about his heretofore unknown father, that Rusty remembers everything from when he was six! Like he'd never tried before! And how his father, a stone mason and accomplished philosopher, got all the Barons to sign a revolutionary and genius charter that challenges the feudal system in England!
Now, the script wasn't poorly written, or the action scenes badly shot. It's just that there really wasn't much of a story, and certainly no theme at all. As such, there was nothing for the audience to connect with. I didn't care a whit that Robin Hood was banished as an outlaw. Russel Crowe can't act for spit, and he did a terrible, limp job. It seems that his default role is as a noble, yet betrayed quasi- aristocrat, allowing him to be heroic with almost no facial expression (except at the end when he's yelling). Cate Blanchett was unremarkable in every way. The other actors were passable.
I was quite disappointed with Brian Helgeland's script. He's done better work, such as LA Confidential, which had both characters and plot. Robin Hood had almost neither of both. There were never any stakes involved, and only one brief moment when everything looked bad (Marion's abduction scene). The French were coming, so Rusty whipped everyone up and they went and fought and won. That's it. That's the movie. Nothing to care about, no characters to like, no danger and no point to the movie.
A poor effort from all involved. 1 out of 10.
EDIT: I have since discovered that the script for this film was originally a bizarre CSI style film set in medieval England where the Sheriff of Nottingham tries to apprehend Robin Hood. Then Ridley Scott decided that he wanted to direct a Robin Hood story, and who knows how it went bonkers from that point on. Apparently the original script was a bit crap too, but completely different from the end product.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's one of those films that was annoying me as I watched it but
actually making me cringe the more i think about it. A few points -
ignoring any historical inaccuracies (of which there are plenty).
1) There appeared to be only one character (Godfrey) who could speak English intelligibly, accents of Robin Hood and Little John were quite laughable (Crowe darted between North Yorkshire, Liverpool and Ireland) and I have no idea which part of the world Little John was supposed to come from. 2) Maid Marion a very hammy performance and legend does not ever mention her super-human strength; have you ever tried to bend a modern longbow replica? Very hard even for a large bloke and they have about half the draw weight of the real thing, and I had no idea that Wendy and the lost boys were involved in the legend of Robin Hood. 3) The final battle scene was taken more or less directly from Saving Private Ryan and included replica landing craft, one of the daftest scenes in cinema for quite some time. 4) There is so much information about concerning archer's other weapons of that era there was no need to invent a long sledge hammer 5) Why call the film Robin Hood? Only the last few seconds are to do with 'Robin of the Hood' so this should have been clearly labelled as a prequel. 6) Could they not have found a beach with real cliffs?
All that money wasted they could have made a decent film
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robin Hood was an Outlaw in England. The idea that Robin Hood followed
King Richard in the Crusades is from the Sean Connery movie "Robin and
Marion". Robin and Marion was made in the cynical 1970's. Robin and
Marion is not a movie that gets watched a lot (I wouldn't sit through
it again) and it's theme didn't need to get expanded in to a two hour
epic. The traditional Robin Hood takes place in England for it is the
story of the British People Saxon's vs the Norman occupiers. Green is
the symbolic color of the native people of Briton (e.g. Gawain and the
Green Knight). The traditional Robin Hood of legend wore green for he
is part of the pagan history of Briton, not some cynical inner city
trendy who wears black. There is this idea that people in the past wore
depressing clothing and were dirty all the time. Yet if you look at the
paintings from the time of King Richard the first you will find that
people wore bright colors. Only bums dress badly in any age.
If Christian Bale, Cary Elwes, Jeremy Irons, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr. or Kevin Kline had played the part of Robin Hood we could have expected a more extensive range of emotions and with a better English accent. But Crowe has a limited range of emotions. Emotionally Crowe only does the self-serving stuff very well, you know; angry, self pity, prolonged contempt etc. Crowe is also very good at being "intense" which accounts for his screen presents and is often mistaken for acting ability. But the emotions required to do "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" are way, way beyond him. Being jovial, generous, good natured, romantic or even nice are outside his ability.
In the Errol Flynn version, Robin Hood is bested by Little John and comes up laughing at himself at having been beaten by another man. This sort of self-demeaning humor and good will are way off the chart for Crowe. Crowe doesn't do humble. The character of Robin Hood had to be retooled to be more like the Gladiator so that Crowe could play the part. So Robin Hood the cunning fox had to be changed to become Robin Longstrides the bossy grumpy bear.
Crowe can't do love or Romance very well. In Gladiator they had to cut love scenes out of the script. Crowe can only really do 'intense needy love' or 'self-pity mercy love' but not Romantic Love. To make matters worse Crowe hasn't held onto his youthful good looks in the ten years he's been a star he's really aged badly. Tom Cruse has been a star for almost 30 years still has his looks. As does Brad Pitt. Kevin Beacon who has been in the business for almost 35 years still has his looks. But because Crowe has let himself go so badly the part of Maid Marion had to be drastically retooled as well. The first Maid Marion Sienna Miller was fired from the movie because she looked too young and thin next to the aging and hefty Crowe.
The movie was shut down for two months and the part of Maid Marion was changed and rewritten to that of an older woman. Maid Marion became the Widow Marion (Cate Blanchett) and the romance became a marriage of convenience. Crowe can't do romance. Gone are the scenes where Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havillandand flirted playfully on screen. The unromantic Crowe doesn't flirt well and can't woo. His on screen romances have always been rewritten around this so that the woman does most of the work while he looks angry, confused and full of self-pity. In this case Crowe's Robin Hood doesn't really like Marion (anger) he's just doing a friend a favor by sharing her bed. It's hard to believe that Robin Hood spent 10 years in the army with surrounded by men and isn't attacked to Marion. But Crowe can't play "attracted" there's no self pity in it.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen, Robin Hood with his
band of Merry Men: you will get none of that in this new verison of the
legend. With Ridley Scott Russell Crowe have created new type of Robin
Hood for these an audience who want to gritty verison the legend who
has been constantly re-invented.
1199, England has been suffering from the heavy burden of taxation to fund Richard I's (Danny Huston) wars and the countryside was suffering from social problems with war orphans running wild. Richard I's army was marching through France to get back to England after the Crusades and looting and the raiding the French as much as possible whilst on the way. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his friends are archers within the army. When Richard I died in battle they fled and Robin assumes the identity of a English lord who has been murdered in an ambush. Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight and an adviser to King John (Oscar Issac) secretly meets with the French with a plot to make the new king unpopular and force the nation into civil war, thereby weakening England and making the kingdom easy to invade. Robin goes to Nottingham and gives the news to Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) and Lady Maiden (Cate Blanchett) that their son and husband has died. They suggest that Robin continues to pretend that he was really Sir Robert Loxley and as the man Robin becomes a leading figure to unite the kingdom to stop the impending invasion.
Scott is one of the best directors around for historical film: he has shown a great skill for taking people back to another time and show what the period would have been like (even if he has to take a few liberties to the historical facts). With Robin Hood he shows that the Medieval period was dark and dirty, even for members of the gentry. Battles are hard and brutal, though they is a lot less blood then there was in Gladiator, which is a shame. Scott, with his screenwriter Brain Helgeland, set out a more complex, balance picture. Richard I was not made out to be the great king people think he is because of his heavy taxation and ruthless nature. John was made out to be someone who was dogmatic and naïve, but not someone wanting to be a tyrant just for the fun of it. He was portrayed in a more sympathetic light to what has been shown in the past. It was Godfrey who was the main villain and in the Medieval period national loyalty was not such a big issue as it is today. This is all refreshing to see when most films just show a black and white world.
Scott delivers some excellent battle scenes in this film during. But he slows the film down long enough to allow the plot to develop and adds a little bit of humour. This is however a less bloody epic to allow a slightly younger audience to see it. There is the theme of the idea of a king's right to govern, but this is mostly an action, not a historical film about Medieval government.
Crowe and Scott reunite again and Crowe gives a solid performance as a rougher and tougher Robin. Blanchett too is solid as an older Maiden, showing she is a tough woman who also willing to fight: a woman that properly would not have existed in this period. Strong shows once again that he is a excellent villain, having stared in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, a man who thinks about his own self interest. Strong has been making a good career as villain for hire and he was the strongest actor in the film. The American in this English set film did well, William Hurt was very strong as the wronged advice in the King's court, whilst Huston seemed to be having a blast as Richard I and obviously shows he is not as noble he seems.
Helgeland wrote a clever script, showing Medieval ideology and a complex political situation. His previous Medieval film was A Knight's Tale, which he wrote and directed. But with Robin Hood he seems to have grown up as a writer and gives this film a little more of a complex plot and shows a bigger picture. He also cleverly mixes different aspects about how the legend has changed, like how Robin starting as a commoner and pretends to be a higher ranked man. The film also covers its bases by showing the two sites places that claim to be Robin's home, Nottingham and Barnsdale. However this film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on screen like this before. Hopefully if there is a sequel then Matthew MacFadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham would get a bigger role. Robin Hood is also historically suspect, with events and dates being changed and made up, some ideas and culture also seems to be the victim of artistic license. But Scott knows that storytelling requires character development and show a more balanced picture, particularly with historically set films. At least this film does accept that it is a piece of historical fiction.
An enjoyable summer flick.
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