Monday, 10 May 2010

Robin Hood - Review

It has always been a conundrum for me, over the years, but I have always had an enthusiastic interest in the legend of Robin Hood, and sometimes I can't understand why. I hate the outdoors, crap at archery and rarely the charitable type. Yet one of my favourite childhood films is Walt Disney's Robin Hood, one of my guilty pleasures is 1991's Prince of Thieves - I even like that Bryan Adams song - as well as having fond memories of watching the Mel Brooks' parody Men In Tights with my family while growing up.

Cinematic adaptations of Robin Hood are hardly a new thing, often seen as a recurring fixture in cinema for the past 100 years - the first entry; a silent film released in 1908. With long time collaborator Russell Crowe leading the line, Ridley Scott is the latest in a long line of directors putting their own nuances on the much celebrated tale.

Much to my surprise the film doesn't follow closely to other adaptations released in recent years, with Scott opting to tell an origin story of how Robin became the man who robbed from the rich instead of telling that age old story. That's not to say it didn't have the usual traits, he was still a returning solider of King Richard's crusade, there was still Maid Marian and indeed all the Merry Men were accounted for. Though there was a distinct lack of giving to the poor...

A decade has past since Crowe starred in Gladiator, unleashing hell at his command. He may be older and not quite as lean as he once was - it shows - he still manages to have that, dominate, heroic presence which served him so well in the aforementioned classic. His take on Hood feels like a more erratic prospect than most of his predecessors, a man with no real past, still searching for a real purpose in life, not instantly caring whether he should rob from the rich and give it away so selflessly to the poor. Crowe is one of the few actors, I feel, to actually humanise the character, exploring the prospect - often hinted in past versions - he was a bit of a self-absorbed twit at times.

His band of Merry Men consisting of Little John (Kevin Durand), Friar Tuck (Mark Addy), Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes) and Allan A'Dayle (Alan Doyle) provided much needed comic relief to the proceedings. While - bad guy of the week - Mark Strong was as villainous as he has been in, the likes of, Sherlock Holmes and Kick Ass as King John's chief henchmen, Sir Godfrey - a variation on the classic evil-doer, Guy of Gisbourne.

Disappointingly however, was the failure to use the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew MacFadyen) properly within the feature, though there's reason to suggest they're keeping his role low key in the likelihood a sequel may crop up. Unfortunately the glimpses we do see of the 'honourable' sheriff, it was fair to say Alan Rickman - who made the role famous in Prince of Thieves - he was not. While Cate Blanchett was probably the strongest Maid Marian I have seen since I started watching these types of affairs, never once coming across the damsel in distress like many of her counterparts.

Though I commend Ridley Scott for trying something different with the story, there were some needlessly clumsy back-stories and flashbacks which brought the overall quality of the film down as well as the sincere lack of Sherwood Forest. Also if someone would care to explain the random homeless children frolicking in the forest I would be much appreciated as I can't quite fathom how it served any purpose to the story.

What will perhaps become a minor issue to mass audiences; I found myself royally underwhelmed by the score from Marc Streitenfeld- no Enya? Not one tear. Seriously. I usually gush like a baby during these epic affairs but Robin Hood unfortunately failed to do that.

Final Thoughts
He may seem a bit rougher - or floppier - around the edges but this Robin Hood is still bold, epic and courageous. Audiences, however, may be disappointed to find this isn't the story we've all heard before. The film is not without its obvious flaws, but sometimes the amount of personal enjoyment outweighs the shortcomings. I asked at the beginning of this review why this story fascinates me so, and now I see why, his legend is an inspiration to do something just in this world, classic heroism at its best, in a time long before the likes of Batman and Superman first came along. He'll rise...and rise again. Roll on the sequel!


See This If You Liked...
There much point listing them this week?

Robin Hood is in cinemas nationwide from May 14th 2010.

No comments: