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Robin Hood – Movie Review

By:   Movie Critic-guest contributor

Robin Hood movie posterRobin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen.  Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men.  Feared by the bad, loved by the good, Robin Hood.  Do you remember this old television theme song?  It stirs memories of an archer living in Sherwood Forest outside of Nottingham; an archer who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  He’s surrounded by a band of merry men, including Little John, Friar Tuck, and Alan A’Dayle.  He is in love with the beautiful Maid Marion.  He’s the bane of the Sherriff of Nottingham and King John’s existence.  He’d been played by Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Richard Greene, and Kevin Costner.  Disney made him an animated fox, and even Daffy Duck tried his hand at the role.  Now it’s Russell Crowe’s turn to bring the character to life, in what director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) is calling the most realistic telling of the legend ever.

Like all retellings of the Robin Hood legend, England is close to bankruptcy thanks to King Richard’s crusades.  In his absence his brother John has taken over the country and in an attempt to fill the royal treasury he taxes the people severely.  That is where the similarities between retellings end.  In this version Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe of Gladiator) is an archer in the King’s army, and once the King is killed in France he and his trusted friends return home.  Along the way they break-up an ambush by the French on the knights assigned to return King Richard’s body home.  One of the knights killed is Sir Richard Loxley, who before he dies asks Robin to return his sword to his family in Nottingham.  Robin agrees and when he arrives in Nottingham he meets Richard’s wife Marion (Cate Blanchett of Elizabeth), with whom he eventually falls in love.  In the meantime there is a plot by the French to take over England, a country they believe will be in disarray due to their King’s death.  When all is said and done we are given a glimpse into the life of Robin Hood, before he became an outlaw. 

 In all due respect to Ridley Scott (he has been nominated for three Oscars after all), there is no realistic telling of Robin Hood.  He is a legend, and most scholars don’t believe he actually existed.  His was a tale told by travelling bards and minstrels to the general populace.  Sort of like King Arthur.  This movie had a lot of potential, as Ridley Scott typically tells a good story, and Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett typically give good performances.  Unfortunately in this case the good story was missing.  Robin Hood is supposed to be about the guy who helps the people from the bad guys, and gets the lady in the end.  There is no more to his story, and there shouldn’t be.  Frankly, who really cares where he came from, and why he does what he does.  We just want to see Robin Hood and his merry men cause trouble for those in power.  Like usual, Ridley Scott does bring the ancient world to life extremely well.  The buildings, the armour, the weapons, the general settings, were all well done, but we’ve seen it all before.  Without a good story to tell, everything else is just window dressing.

 If you want to see Robin Hood done right, watch the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn.  Even the Disney movie from 1973 has a better telling of the story, and Robin Hood was played by a fox.  Whatever you do avoid this version if you are looking for the story of Robin Hood many children grow to love, as you won’t see it in this movie.  Wherever this ‘realistic’ telling came from it was definitely best left there.

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