Every few years, a movie comes out that revisits a legend. This year, it was Robin Hood starring Russel Crowe and Cate Blanchett. The premise of this movie is to take a more realistic look at the popular legend. Unfortunately, it failed.
To be honest, it doesn’t work as a movie. In general, I thought the movie fell flat. There was little excitement and everything seemed to be paced at around the same time. The “slow” scenes (dialogue, personal interaction, the spaces between the action) felt the same as all the “fast” scenes (fighting, sweeping panoramic views, intrigue/suspense). Even though I could see the movie progressing on the screen, it didn’t feel like anything was happening. The fact that this was billed as Robin Hood was the hook that made me not like this movie at all.
Firstly, they lost the legend. All the characters were there, but Robin Hood wasn’t Robin of Loxley, King Richard died on his Crusade campaign, the Sheriff played almost no role, and the merry men weren’t so much a cohesive group as they were guys who didn’t care enough to move on. Robin Hood is supposed to be the best archer in England, but there was little to no archery actually included in this movie. He’s supposed to rob from the rich to give to the poor, but we only ever see one robbery and that one is for personal gain. In fact, the only real tie back to the original legend was Friar Tuck’s basic character – the merry friar who kicks ass when he feels the weak are being threatened.
Secondly, they tried to make this a Robin Hood origin story, as if that excuses the ridiculous inclusion of French invasion and democratic agenda. There is no origin story to Robin Hood unless you go back before he leaves on Richard’s crusade. This movie starts where the legend starts – Robin Hood returns to England, finds that Prince John is running things poorly and the gap between the rich and the poor has widened, and that his people are starving. Because he’s got nothing left to lose, he steals what he can from the nobles profiting off of their subjects so that his people can survive. He falls in love with Maid Marion and, after he is sentenced to death and saved by the return of King Richard, he and Marion get married. That is the story of Robin Hood. This movie shows half of this and tries to play it off like an origin story.
Thirdly, the movie gives the impression that they are attempting historical accuracy in the portrayal of the time period. I was fine with this for most of the movie. I mean, filthy townspeople, straw huts, and blood are all fine with me. However, if you’re making a movie that supposed to be routed in reality, don’t make the only female character a feminist. Marion’s character was progressive enough for the time; she had an active role in the story (sending warnings to Robin’s men) rather than being just a damsel in distress. This is not a character that you make dress up as a man and ride into battle. If you are going to make a claim for reality, then you need to have the appropriate consequences for actions out of character for the time period.1
I know that they change the original stories in order to make more “entertaining” movies, but I feel that this movie took it too far. Like the King Arthur remake a few years ago, this was nearly unrecognizable and not what the previews led me to believe this movie was about. I would only recommend this to someone who doesn’t care about the original story at all and who doesn’t particularly care about the quality of their movies.
1 Burn her at the stake, behead her, etc. Think Joan of Arc.