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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Robin Hood

Title: Robin Hood

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: October 10th, 2010

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott reunite for the umpteenth time in a new variation of the Robin Hood legend. Just in case the trailer didn't make it obvious enough, there is no campiness to be found here. It's grounded and gritty but offers little that hasn't been seen before.

The film operates as a prologue of sorts. Crowe's portrayal of Robin Longstride is not of the famed outlaw that most pop culture aficionados have engraved in their minds. It is actually the story of his transformation into that familiar image.

As a soldier serving under the watchful eye of King Richard, Robin draws attention to himself after engaging in a brawl with a fellow comrade, his future right-hand man; Little John. When confronted about the situation, Robin takes the blame despite not being the one that instigated the fight. Sir Godfrey takes his questioning a step further and dares Robin to share his honest thoughts regarding the Crusade mission. He obliges and denounces everything, insisting that the last battle that claimed the lives of many Muslims had turned them all into barbarians. Insulted by the brutal honesty, the king confines Robin and his clique into the stockades.

In the midst of an attack, Robin and his crew are freed and Sir Robert Loxley is killed in the battle. Before passing on, he gets Robin to agree to carry out his dying wish; returning Loxley's stolen sword to its rightful owner; his father.

After this point, the film devolves into a rather vague setup of how Robin Hood leads an uprising against Sir Godfrey and becomes a rogue hero to Nottingham. Events are plentiful but most are not given the focus that they demand.

The movie works off a checklist. Lady Marion and Friar Tuck introductions? Check. Russell Crowe acting coldly in the way only Russell Crowe can? Check. An epic battle between the anti-hero and an army of carbon-copy villains? Check. An inspiring speech spoken by the anti-hero before said battle? Check. A final jaw dropping kill followed by a sequel invitation? Oh yes.

It feels more like Braveheart-lite than a Robin Hood film. I could have saved a lot of time and simply used that sentence in place of a full review but it would be an insult to the movie's professionalism. There is nothing wrong with Ridley Scott's style. He just needs to find a compatible dipping sauce to go with his breadsticks. Then he would really be on to something. You can argue that sauce is only a bonus item and doesn't really mean much if the bread is delicious enough. But you'd be ignoring the fact that the adventure genre is just as widely distributed as breadsticks. You need a special touch to earn a fanbase that can stay with you after the first meal or movie. Robin Hood doesn't have that. So it's just a generic breadstick.

The preceding weird paragraph was the result of A: Writer's block and B: Lack of nourishment today. Forgive me, folks. Sometimes these things are too overpowering. But maybe if the movie was interesting to watch, it wouldn't have been a problem.

A newer serious Robin Hood would have been a welcome addition had the result not ended up so cliche. Scott's efforts are admirable but there was too little to work with when it came to making a lasting impression. If the foreshadowed sequel does get produced, it needs to be bigger and bolder. Playing it safe is not always the best choice and I'm sure Robin Hood himself would agree.

Rating: 5

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