Considering Robin Hood has been a folklore icon since the medieval times and stretching into modern literature and art — including countless television and film adaptations — it’s safe to say that director Ridley Scott had immense courage to retell this popular tale once again.
Besides the daunting task of making Robin Hood fresh again, Scott also faced trouble from an economic standpoint. The film, which already faces a limited audience, has to go up again the long-awaited sequel to “Iron Man,” released last week, but also against “Shrek Forever After,” which is sure to take even more audience members from “Robin Hood” the following week. That being said, Scott possesses the courage of the legendary hero himself, however, the sad reality is that even the most courageous heroes lose some battles and for Scott, “Robin Hood” is one such failure.
“Robin Hood” tells the story of Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), an expert archer who, following the death of King Richard during a battle with the French, travels to Nothingham — a town ailing from corruption and unfair taxation. Motivated by the dream of earning the hand of Maid Marian (Cate Blanchett), a widow, Longstride assembles a team of mercenaries in order to rid the town of it’s injustices. But the squad quickly becomes embroiled in much larger matters as the tyrannical rule of the new king magnifies political unfairness and leaves the land vulnerable from attack from foreign empires.
First of all, the film isn’t a total loss. The immense production values are visible at first sight with awe-inspiring landscapes and set-pieces. Costume design also marks another success for the latest Robin Hood film. Both of these successes combined create an organic atmosphere that captures the feel of medieval times almost perfectly.
“Robin Hood” also sports a plethora of immaculate performances — especially from Blanchett and Crowe. But though both of these Oscar-winning actors are brilliant individually, when sharing screen-time these powerhouses have absolutely no chemistry. Though the film explains their relationship to grow from being an act to being a truly “passionate” romance, it’s hard to differentiate between the two. During both stages of the character’s relationship, there is absolutely no emotion.
But the film’s major downside is its plot. The storyline is terribly clichéd and lacks any sense of thrill. There is a lack of urgency in Robin Hood’s quest and this is represented through the useless banter between the film’s protagonists throughout most of the film’s 140-minute running time. This makes watching the film a chore — even though things pick up during the film’s third act, which leads up to a competent climax.
The saving graces of this clichéd plot are the film’s action scenes. Though I’ve seen them done before in superior films, it seems that large scale war sequences never lose their flare (at least for me) and unlike most of the recent action films, the last fighting sequence is decent in length and doesn’t end within seconds.
But that leaves me at the film’s ending. It simply angered me. As it finished with a card saying “And so the legend begins,” I became confused. It was already evident that there’s a sequel being set up, but was this film nothing but useless back-story? It seemed that way at first, which is what incited this rage, but then I recovered with a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the second installment of Scott’s “Robin Hood” series will be far better. He’s got the right actors and the right designers, but maybe he should hire some better screen-writers because what really bogs down this installment is its plot.
In the case of “Robin Hood,” there is no reason to run out to see it. Sometimes it’s better to just wait a battle out and looking forward to the next — more successful — adventure.
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Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMariusz.