Robin Hood review

Posted on 14 May 2010

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood was an OK film that lacks the lightness of other previous versions. As Michael O’Sullivan, critic for the Washinton Post put it, Robin Hood is less about a band of merry men than a whole country of really angry ones. Compared to other films by Scott, this one is not an epic (like Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven) or a game-changer (like Alien or Blade Runner) or a faithful period piece (like The Duelists). The film is definitely not one of Scott’s best but is saved by the wonderful acting of Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and Max von Sydow. Rotten Tomatoes only rates the movie as 45% Fresh and, reading the reviews of others, it seems that many of us share the same view. The movie is a prequel and, as such, it ends where most other tales of Robin Hood begin. One major saving grace for the film is that there isn’t a dopey Bryan Adam’s song!

My main problem with the movie is my knowledge of English/European history and the overwhelming number of anachronisms and Hollywood-esque conveniences that stretch my credulity and give trouble when trying to suspend my disbelief. For instance, horse-drawn plows weren’t introduced into Europe until the 16th Century; there’s too much use of glassware instead of a more time-period correct pottery, and; the use of 12th Century “Higgins” landing boats by the invading French army (ala the storming of Utah Beach in Saving Private Ryan). The movie even has trouble sticking to its own sense of inner reality: we’re told over and over again that England is bankrupt and the armies cost too much but, throughout the film, we find the infantry and archers riding on horseback. While this is a wonderful and expedient way to get masses of men from one side of England to another quickly, it doesn’t make much (realistic) sense.

Still, I expect the movie will do fairly well at the box office based on its star-power alone. I would not call this a definitive Robin Hood movie but it’s not a bad one, either. I liked it better than the Kevin Costner version (which only has a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) but won’t be rushing out to add this to my collection once it hits DVD. It was a good flick but will be over-played on basic cable in a few years.


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