TO THE TREES! HERE BE SPOILERS!!
The trailers hadn’t given me much to get all goosebumpy about, so it was with trepidation that I set foot into my local cinema to see the latest cinematic exploits of Robin Hood burst out at me from the silver screen. I really, really did try to like this rendition of dear old Robin, but alas I found it mostly way off target.
Less Boy’s Own Adventure and more boy, did it drag (all the way from The Holy Land it seemed) the pace of the film was just so slow and meandering. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t need to be edited like a Michael Bay movie (although it would have perhaps have had a bit more pace had it been directed by Ridley’s brother, Tony) but it just seemed to defy script writing law – nevermind Outlaw – with its long drawn out scenes of nothingness. And slow, didn’t equal worthy.
Confusion seemed to reign on what anyone, writers and actors themselves, wanted to do with the villains. It suffered with too many not really doing enough, with the Sheriff of Nottingham getting short changed with gold coins the most, his role was none-existent and surely could have been amalgamated into that played by Mark Strong. Prince John ended up being effective value for money though.
There were some flickers of what might have been but these – certainly in the first half of the film – were very few and far between and it needed some culling at either the script or editing stage to give it some much needed pace. There was certainly an interesting story trying to get out, but one can’t help but feel they were just trying to be a bit too clever with their retelling and it ending up being convoluted
One of my biggest fears was that this was going to be Robin Hood in name only, now don’t get me wrong it’s not as if I’m against revisionist reboots as I loved both the recent Sherlock Holmes and Casino Royale , but this wasn’t even Robin Hood in name only, it was someone (Crowe) nabbing his name.
Now, I don’t mind people playing with the legend, adding new elements to it or skirting round it – after all this is how the legend has continued to evolve throughout the centuries – but that doesn’t mean that people should go around just writing off whole swathes of it and actually not give us a Robin Hood at all, but someone pretending to be him. I just felt rather cheated.
There wasn’t really a standout Robin Hood moment – until the final reel – where you felt that some Hood daring do had been done, but then that could be explained away by Crowe’s character being ‘reborn’ as Robin Hood from the water – in slow mo for those slow on the uptake of the metaphor – so he couldn’t perform anything really Robin Hood until he had become him. But, saying that, there didn’t even seem to be a proper introduction to the character, unlike the strong introduction of Marian, a film stealing Cate Blanchett.
It was also nice to see Mark Addy turn up as Friar Tuck and continue the tradition, of sorts, of portly Friar being played by actors best known for comedy roles, such as Ronnie Barker in Robin and Marian and Mike McShane in Prince of Thieves.
For me, one of the essential characters of any Robin Hood story, and as essential addition as the likes of Friar Tuck and Little John, is that of Sherwood Forest. The Forest is as an important a character to the Robin Hood story as say New York is to Sex and the City, and we did get plenty of forest areas…but most of them were listed as being in ruddy France.
I Sherwood like to say that I enjoyed this film, but this Robin Hood’s blade was more than a little rusty. The film had lots of bluster and show, but not very much in the way of tell. Looks like that Bluray purchase of Prince of Thieves was a good investment afterall.