The first time i saw this movie was in early 90's, not so long after the release. It was a time of video salons, so my parents rented a crappy pirated VHS copy of this film with a single-voice semi-amateur dubbing. As far as i can remember, the quality of the video and sound was all but horrible.
But i was around 10, and it meant absolutely nothing to me. After all, at that moment it seemed that i was watching the greatest movie of all time. Because it's an adventure, and not some random one but about Robin Hood! And it has magic, people in cool costumes, sword fighting, bow shooting and, the best of all, the tree houses. And not just a few of them, but a whole village on trees. Accompanied by a happy ending and a song they made so much fuss about on TV, this movie had everything that a pre-adolescent boy could've wished for.
Now, two decades later, i got a chance to re-watch Robin Hood. Except for the technical quality of the media - now the video and sound were their best - and the English language track this time, the movie had no changes. One thing that really changed was me. I'm no longer a 10-year old boy, and it implies a completely different viewing angle and perception.
The first thing i must say is that, being a boy, i hardly realized how silly this movie is. From the scene with people getting out of a manhole in the sandy street of medieval Jerusalem - yeah, a manhole in the sand, i kid you not! - it was clear that no historical accuracy or at least logical consistency is to be expected from this film. But there was still hope for it, since one doesn't need to be historically accurate or logical to be a great adventure, and the best proof is the Indiana Jones films.
Unfortunately, Robin Hood is no Indiana Jones. And definitely not because the topic it's based on is inferior, for it's not. This film had all the potential to be the landmark of its time and one of the best adventure movies of, if not all time then, at least, the 90's. But a few director's choices wasted this opportunity.
First of all, the film is too thin for its length. For your information, Robin Hood goes for more than two and a half hours. Yet for this huge screen time, we get to see not nearly enough of "robinhooding" itself. With lots of not so necessary and slow paced scenes like sheriff's hoodlums burning peasant villages or the sheriff himself running around his castle and throwing hissy fits, you might wish for a bigger lot of cool action moments. Yet there are only a handful of those throughout the whole movie.
Another thing that kinda spoils the enjoyment is the overused comedic angle. Indeed, there must be some comedy in adventure, otherwise it would turn itself into drama. But in Robin Hood there clearly was too much of it. Mostly due to the Alan Rickman's character of the sheriff. I mean, we all know that he's a great actor and can play super vicious villains like Hans Gruber. Yet in this film all he could do is buffoon around, scream nonsense and make preposterous faces. Even out of his own death he made a clown's performance. And since he's the main opposing force in the movie, it kinda undermines the value of the confrontation and transforms adventure into visiting a spooky room attraction in an amusement park: it may look scary sometimes, but you are simply 100% sure that all is gonna be okay.
Yet, with all these flaws, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves still leaves a pleasant aftertaste. Maybe because it's a movie of my childhood, and although it doesn't live up to the impression it made back then, it's still nice to see something that you loved when you were a kid. Maybe because of the whole nostalgia about 90's that it brings, seeing all these actors so young again. After all, it's not everyday that you get to see a movie with Morgan Freeman playing an action role and swinging a giant crooked sword.
All in all, Robin Hood may be not the best adventure film of all time. But its flaws are not unique to it, they are pertinent to the way filmmaking was back then. So while the current generation will hardly rave about it, it'll never lose its appeal and historical value as one of the most notable adventure movies of the late 80's and early 90's. So, if you haven't watched it yet - give this film a try. Maybe you won't fall in love with it, but a certain degree of enjoyment is guaranteed.
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