G-S-T Review…Robin Hood

In Hollywood circles, there’s been some constant actor director tag teams in the past, Johnny Depp,/Tim Burton, Nic Cage/Jerry Bruckheimer, DeNiro(and DiCaprio)/Scorsese to name a few. But if there’s one team that continues to impress, it’s the one, two punch of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. Well those two were at it again, this time to tell the story of Robin Hood. Despite years of saturation from the famous man in green tights, this was a different tale all together that is not the tale you think you’ve seen. But where shall I start? Maybe I’ll take a cue from the movie and start…at the beginning.

Now as per a recent trend in Hollywood, prequels and origin stories have taken a bit of a front seat as far as story telling goes. Being as this isa”before the legend” film, there was a lot of ground to cover. However, how do you make a compelling story about the most famous archer BEFORE he got to be famous, especially when just that idea alone would omit all of the characters that we know, love and make Robin who he is? Well Scott, what gives? While those answers would do nothing but lead to an already tough uphill battle, Scott and writer Brian Helgeland threw out convention, disassembled the puzzle and put it together they way they wanted. Purists gasped and fans of the Hood looked around confused as the elements of the famous outlaw were rebuilt to make an origin story. I guess it worked out because in order to make an adaptation that works you have to change things up. Also, if you tell the same exact story as everyone else, how much can you do to really make it stand out against the other films out there?

For me, watching this was a bit tough, but mainly because of the things that kept running through my brain. The problem seeing this, when you have so many other Robins (much like Batman or James Bond), is how can we the audience stop from recalling the previous heroes and incarnations? Especially when one or two of those incarnations are pretty much hardwired in to our psyche. I admit, while I didn’t totally think of Kevin Costner while during this film, after years of appreciating it, it’s tough to admit there’s now a new kid on the block.

As always, Crowe let’s us know why he’s one of the finest working actors in Hollywood. Tough when he needs to be tough and gentles when the occasion calls for it. Not just a typical or type-cast action hero, Crowe shows vulnerability amongst his bravado and as Robin he show many more layers than the previous 2 dimensional Robins. Also Mark Strong, now sporting some French dialogue, just impresses beyond capacity. I was a bit disappointed with his role in Kick-Ass but as Godfrey is one of his best roles to date…although I couldn’t kick the thought that his scarring wasn’t inspired by The Dark Knight.

Where as in Iron Man 2, the side characters were merely scenery to the Downey show, the rest of the Robin Hood cast actually showed up for this one. I personally liked Oscar Isaac‘s Prince John (performance not character). Although vile, his turn helped lend a sniveling presence to the entire camp of heavies which gave this movie had me recalling the feel of Braveheart more than a few times. A hero is only as good as the villains and the villains here aided in making Robin Hood even more epic.

Sadly, although I am usually a fan of Blanchette, I thought she just didn’t have the chops to stand up next to Crowe. I wanted to be impressed but sadly was not. Next, of all the actors, none made me question their presence here more than William Hurt. A fine actor and one I might actually go out of my way to see a movie of his, just didn’t belong here. Sporting an accent that seemed beyond his acting ability, he just was an odd cast…I just found myself asking “what the hell is William Hurt doing here?

Now people call me crazy but I think Danny Huston has more on the ball than people give him credit for. While his performance was too short for my liking, Danny Huston showed us that he has talent that is much deeper than we’ve seen in the dreaded X-Men Origins: Wolverine…I for one wanted to see more of him, so his lack of presence left me saddened. Lastly, Max von Sydow, in a role all too similar to the one Richard Harris played in Gladiator, helped Robin connect with his past, but it felt so contrived. Someone who was unknowingly destined for greatness and just so happened to have it come at the opportune moment…but hey, isn’t this a fairy tale of sorts? Yet as much as I liked Sydow, his turn didn’t do much to help me distance the two films from one another.

While I stayed away from trailers to keep from spoiling things for me, other things like preconceptions (mostly about this being a Ridley Scott film and living up to those expectations), I felt didn’t allow me to take this film at face value. Was this Gladiator part 2? No, but it wasn’t supposed to be. So why did my brain trick to into thinking it would be? Also, it’s so hard to swallow a new spin on an old classic when all the familiar pieces have been jumbled up, reordered, and a heavy dose of “not you parent’s Robin Hood” was laid out for world opinion.

Despite my neurosis and baggage I brought to the film, I really enjoyed this tale. Less fun but more epic should the tag line here. Although this film messes with all previous Robin lore and canon, I loved how this movie acknowledged that it is bigger than itself as it paved an almost revolutionary path. That said, they left it open for a much grander adventure ahead (a la Batman Begins). Again, it is the fine performances of Crowe, Strong and the quasi comic relief of his merry men that power the movie through.

Personally I fell the decision to show Robin’s rise to infamy was a more successful narrative rather than just have a cast of todays’ talented elite tell a very recycled tale. Especially when the perceivably underwhelming story leaves it open to a very grand follow-up. I am so ready for the continuation of what they established with the set up. I just hope there’s enough critical and financial success to do so. While I am still a bit bummed they didn’t develop that early “Nottingham” story (where Crowe played both Robin and the Sheriff) with the set up for another story, I am willing to let it go.

G-S-T Ruling 3.5/5

G-S-T Seal of Approval – GRANTED

Comments

  1. Glad to see someone else who enjoyed it. I did not have any preconceived notions about the movie and did not try to compare it with previous Robin Hood movies and I loved it! Let’s hope it gets enough support to get the sequel going which I’m sure, a lot more people will like.

    • Yeah, the more and more I think about it, I really really like this movie and I do believe we will be seeing a sequel. However it may be a ways away, Ridley is in more pre-production and development than Guillermo del Toro. With the Alien movies, we might not see Robin for a while…and that makes me sad. But it lived up to they hype as far as I’m concerned and I want to see it again, soon.

      That is a problem I have, I need to turn that part of my brain off and go into more films with a clear head and fresh eyes. But sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds.

    • I think a person can definitely enjoy it more that way. I had trouble doing so because some of the things in the film were so obvious they felt like tributes, but I guess that is just the genre, it’s really hard not copying things over.

      I would agree, I think I would like a sequel a lot more. But I’m usually always game for a backstory, this one just… didn’t quite have it for me.

      • Well this seemed to follow a sort of Batman Begins and Casino Royale backstory. While it doesn’t work for every property out there, I liked their approach although it was a little difficult to swallow at first. IT was such a radical change, bit it worked for me.

  2. Very thorough write-up. Interesting to read this as I have read so much negativity about the film. I will surely see this week. I hear that the chemistry between Blanchett and Crowe is ridiculously bad….will be interesting….

    • Blanchette plays the part well, especially in regards to how her character was written, but she just doesn’t mesh well with Crowe.
      A movie like this you have to avoid as many reviews and just go in and see for yourself. I think the actors and subject are enough on their own to let you know if you want to see it or not. Thanks for stopping by Peter!

    • I disagree. There is a lack of sexual tension but I thought they had solid chemistry together.

  3. Wasn’t that keen on the film. Crowe is a great actor, I thought he was only okay in the movie though. With such a great story like Robin Hood, I also thought Scott could have done a lot more with it. It wasn’t bad, but to me it wasn’t great unfortunately.

    • Well there’s no love lost Olive:) But maybe another viewing might change your mind?

  4. i think the original Nottingham idea sounds class too
    something different
    alas we will never see it
    i still enjoyed this though

    • All in all this was probably the better movie in the long run…but it’s always nice to dream. I bet if the movie didn’t do well they might have been kicking themselves for not going the Nottingham route.

  5. Heather says

    I think the positive reports have spread and people are finally getting this out word of mouth and will be able to ignore the critics blasting. The blogsphere and the general public has spoken. With flicks like MacGruber, Sex and THe City, and Shrek being released this month, Robin Hood is likely to get a lot of viewings, as it should. Best summer blockbuster thus far.

    • One of the best three films I’ve seen this year…the other two (even though they are far from perfect) are Kick Ass and Iron Man 2. Here’s hoping the summer plays out as fantastic as I’m hoping. Inception and The Expendables are supposed to be AMAZING:)