Saturday, May 15, 2010

Back in the Hood: Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” is Not Very Legendary

“Are you not entertained?” – Maximus, Gladiator

“Correct.” – Me, after watching Robin Hood

I don’t know too much about Robin Hood, but what I did know is that I was excited to see the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version. I wasn’t a big fan of Gladiator at first, but now it’s become a movie that gets better with every viewing. I like its style and grittiness and much of the same style is ported over into “Robin Hood,” another retelling of the possibly fictional, possibly real outlaw from 12th century England who “stole from the rich and gave to the poor” under the tyranny caused by King John after his brother King Richard left to fight in the Crusades. How much of this is historically accurate? I have no idea. But what I do know is that this new “Robin Hood” is as exciting as a day of jury duty (Not that I would know of course, knock on wood).

I was hoping this film would start my obsession with Robin Hood, but alas it has disappointed me. What most people don’t know and should probably know going in, is that writer Brian Helgeland has written a script that works as a prequel. And it’s profoundly confusing. I expect much better from the writer of “A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master.” We see how Robin becomes the Robin Hood that most people are familiar with. There is swordplay and lots of arrows fired, but I didn’t see much stealing from the rich or giving to the poor. In fact, what I noticed was a lot of confusion. I mean what the heck is going on in this movie? Not knowing it was a prequel didn’t help much, as nothing I was expecting of Robin Hood actually happened on screen. In fact, most of my Robin Hood knowledge comes from the Mel Brooks’ spoof “Robin Hood Men in Tights” which I don’t even really like all that much to begin with.

From what I can make out in this new flick is Robin (Crowe, very Maximus-esque) is making his way back from fighting in the Crusades with King Richard. King Richard is killed and meanwhile his brother John takes over. He’s a womanizing jerk. Robin wants to seek vengeance for King Richard’s death and the new king’s tyranny. Then there’s Maid Marion (the always reliable Cate Blanchett) who just might have the hots for Robin. They have a sort of love-hate relationship. If this is the film’s most interesting aspect that’s fine, cause there’s not much else. Oh yeah we have “Little John” in the form of the guy from “Lost” who was on the freighter. There are some comic relief jokes here and there, but nothing like the light-hearted fun that’s supposedly the staple of the very early screen versions (Of which, I have, shockingly, never seen).

Ok, so there’s nothing really technically wrong with Robin Hood. Ridley Scott is a good director and he has his distinct style and sometimes he just likes to copy it over and over again. If you’re entertained by strong battle scenes, which seemed rather intense for a PG-13 rated film, but pretty much void of gore (zzzZZZzzz) then this is for you. To be honest, I wanted to love this and I didn’t. Give me “Gladiator” anyday. GRADE: C-


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