Friday, May 14, 2010

Movie with Abe: Robin Hood

Robin Hood
Directed by Ridley Scott
Released May 14, 2010

The legend of Robin Hood is one that, like the story of Alice of Wonderland, everyone has heard. The positive effects of a filmic collaboration between director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe are also familiar to most moviegoers, based on the Oscar-winning sword-and-sandals epic “Gladiator.” Merging those two well-known phenomena should make for a marvelously stirring and rousing film project, transforming a time-worn myth into an action extravaganza. Something doesn’t add up, however, and the latest cinematic presentation of Robin Hood paints him as neither a man in tights nor a prince of thieves.

While there are classic locations like Nottingham and iconic characters like Friar Tuck to stir up amusement and delight in even the most unlearned of Robin Hood scholars, they seem mostly present to provide some reassurance that this is in fact the tale of an outlaw hero to the people. Based on the plot of the film, that certainly does not seem to be the case. Quickly summarized, Crowe’s archer and dedicated follower of King Richard the Lionheart takes the name of a deceased knight in order to first gain fortune for himself and then honor his namesake’s dying wish to be made at peace with his father in Nottingham. The newly minted Robin Longstride charges into battle and vigorously rallies and defends the English people from the threat of invasion from outside forces and from within. He is an underdog with a majestic ability to unite people and on whose shoulders alone the fate on a whole nation seems to lie. In essence, it’s “Gladiator” done over again, but with no emperor and a large number of French people. As is usually the case, the first one was better.

As an action film, “Robin Hood” ranks somewhere between mediocre and less than satisfactory. Each of the several lengthy battle scenes is invigorating, but nothing serves to truly tie them together. The movie as a whole is a massive undertaking that, at almost two and a half hours, takes a good deal of energy to get through. Often, it’s purely uninteresting, and there’s nothing particularly new or exciting about either the storytelling or the filmmaking. Crowe seems to be delivering less interesting performances in each successive film, starting the previous decade off strong with magnificent turns in “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind” and then dwindling to reserved and boring efforts in “American Gangster” and this film. Cate Blanchett’s Marion Loxley seems like she is supposed to be a very powerful woman who almost takes on a man’s role in the events of the film, but more of that likely has to do with the fact that Blanchett is a stunning actress capable of delivering a tour de force performance as the queen of England and audience members are supposed to know that. A fanciful tale of Robin Hood does not that make. This isn’t a fable, but rather a lackluster excuse to create many a battle scene without doing any justice to the character whose story it’s allegedly showcasing.

C+

2 comments:

Laura said...

I agree! I was so sad that it was the story before he became Robin Hood. I kept waiting for him to become Robin Hood and steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Abe Fried-Tanzer said...

Well said, Laura!