** (out of 5)
May 14, 2010
Russell Crowe as ROBIN LONGSTRIDE
Cate Blanchett as MARION LOXLEY
Max von Sydow as SIR WALTER LOXLEY
William Hurt as WILLIAM MARSHAL
Mark Strong as GODFREY
Oscar Isaac as PRINCE JOHN
Danny Huston as KING RICHARD THE LIONHEART
Directed by: Ridley Scott
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I am neither a history buff nor an expert on Robin Hood. Like most other average Americans, what I know about the legend and the history surrounding it comes from television and the movies. So when I sit down to see a movie called “Robin Hood,” I expect to see a movie about the Robin Hood of which I’m familiar.
Sadly, this isn’t the case with Ridley Scott’s film. In fact, the movie could have just as easily been called “Santa Claus” for how much it has to do with the legend.
Not that a complex and different origin story is what killed this movie. That can be done very effectively. In the case of Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” the movie runs far too long, overstays its welcome, has murky character development and is less about the character and more about medieval politics and a bunch of dirty, bearded men moping around in chain mail.
In this version of “Robin Hood,” we begin with Robin (Russell Crowe) fighting alongside Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) in the Crusades. From this very moment, we understand this will not be your typical Robin Hood film because King Richard is portrayed as an out-of-shape has-been on a fool’s mission, barely any more honorable than his brother, Prince John.
After Richard is killed in a castle siege, Robin returns to England and assumes the identity of a dead land owner. He makes an arrangement with the man’s wife Marian (Cate Blanchett) so they can keep the land. But the now-King John’s tyranny threatens them.
The movie’s plot becomes a mess very quickly, and I just couldn’t figure out who was the actual villain. You have King John starting a tyrannical rule. Then you have his henchman Godfrey (Mark Strong) arranging an alliance with the king of France and running rough-shot over the villages. And apparently, there’s a Sheriff of Nottingham thrown in there as well, but he barely has a part.
Many people have compared this film to “Gladiator” because it’s the fifth pairing of Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott. Unfortunately, this has more to do with the 2004 dud “Kingdom of Heaven” than anything else. It’s a muddled storyline that has a bloated running time and terrible character development.
I’ve heard people buzz about how awesome the “Kingdom of Heaven” director’s cut is, and having not seen that version, I can’t weigh in on that. But if Scott were forced to trim down his original cut to this two-and-a-half-hour monstrosity, and these were the best scenes he could muster, I fear the movie was doomed from the start.
But all additional material aside, the biggest problem with “Robin Hood” is that it just doesn’t deliver on its promise. If you watch the trailers, you’ve seen all the scenes you’d expect from a Robin Hood movie. When those two or three moments actually happen in the film, it’s pretty cool. And the big battle sequences that Scott orchestrates are admittedly quite awesome.
But in the end, the rich didn’t get robbed of money. The audience got robbed of a plot.
Give me Daffy Duck yelling, “Yikes! And away!” any day over this mess of a film.