When Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator) took on the challenge to retell one of the most widely known stories in a different light, the biggest problem he would face is it’s title. 2010’s Robin Hood has as much blood and gore as it’s predecessors had tights and foxes, but still plays it safe and lacks the story needed to become the great film it could have been.
When we are first introduced to the savior of Nottingham, he is just a mere archer fighting in King Richard I’s crusade, and as far away from Sherwood Forest as he can be. Robin’s location in this story isn’t the only difference from the tale you know, when the film begins he even lacks the name that has filled marquees for years. As Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), he must find his way on to a path that leads him to much more than deciphering the belongings of the rich and poor.
When Robin retches the place of lore he finds that not only is Nottingham in need of saving, England itself is under attack. The telling of this story alone would have made for a great film. Robin Hood takes too many twists and turns to bring the story to life. It is obvious that Scott was attempting to factualize the story of Robin Hood but was ultimately eaten alive by the need to return to the story’s fantastical roots. Though this turn of events does not happen until the end of the film it still left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
The fist half of the film had succeeded in bringing me into a world where the name Robin Hood did not exist and I was loving every minute. At first I had thought I had under estimated the film and that I was witnessing the summer’s first surprise. As the film dragged on I was harshly brought back to the reality that Hollywood always wins and true risk taking would have to be seen on another night. At about an hour into the film things start to get sloppy and character relevance starts to disappear.
The one big problem is that this character disappearing act comes at the expense of characters I actually liked. I had developed that cinematic relationship with characters like Little John and Will Scarlet only to have them replaced with under developed characters. This left emotional moments with a stale feeling and a missed opportunity for so much more. This was at no fault to the acting of which was at a top notch status.
Though I wanted to see more of Kevin Durand (Lost) as Little John and Scott Grimes (ER) as Will Scarlet, the small part that we get is very enjoyable. I can’t recall a scene that these two actors didn’t have me smiling. I’ll be looking out for Scott Grimes especially as this role really opened my eyes to his range and potential. Though Durand and Scarlet both fulfilled the comic relief role by leaps and bounds, Robin Hood is not lacking in the dramatic.
Russel Crowe (Gladiator) has taken over as the definitive Robin “whoever” only making it even more disappointing that the story didn’t live up to his portrayal. He brought a realism to a role that could have easily been phoned in. Crowe just has the face for these historic roles that accompanied with a talent to make you forget he is anything but his character, leaving the audience in awe of his untangled ability.
Ultimately Robin Hood was killed by poor writing, there are so many loop holes in this film that going through them all would be a whole other undertaking in itself. The fact still remains that this film could have been something great but failed to live up to the challenge. If it were not for the acting and the beautifully shot battle sequences Robin Hood would be less than tolerable. The sad thing is that Robin Hood could have measured up to films like Braveheart but now it’s only a footnote on an underwhelming start to the summer.
I give Robin Hood 2 “English Birds” out of 5.