If you don't already know this about me, I am a pretty big Robin Hood fan. Rob from the rich, give to the poor, rebel against authority, live in the forest and kick ass with a bow...it's kind of my thing. I watch all the Robin Hood movies and television shows so it was kind of a no-brainer that I was going to go see Ridley Scott direct Russell Crowe in this summer action flick.
I went with Omar who surprised me by actually showing up before I expected him to show up. We were the first people in the theatre and, for a while, I thought we would be the only people in the theatre but the prospect of a Robin Hood film brought out quite a few old couples. No one near as interesting as Norman and Ethyl from our Star Trek experience though. There was one woman sitting in the row in front of us who gave me a nasty look every time I swore. Joke's on her because although I probably swear more than I should (my father's a sailor...it's genetic. It can't be helped.) I was actually behaving myself and not swearing as much or as badly as I usually like because Omar was with me and he's a nice guy. A really nice guy. So nice that I wonder sometimes why he likes to hang out with me.
But anyway...yeah. There were a lot of older couples who probably loved Errol Flynn and so went home from this experience feeling less than satisfied. My favorite movie Robin Hood is Cary Elwes in Mel Brook's spoof Men In Tight because as he says in the movie, "Unlike those other Robin Hoods, I can actually speak with an English accent." Plus there's this:
But this movie, the Russell Crowe film, wasn't like this one. If you're like me and you're a Robin Hood fanatic, you'll probably end up doing what I did. You spent a lot of time at the end of the film, looking at your watch and thinking "is there another two and a half hours to go?"
This next part will contain spoilers...just so you know.
If you're a Robin Hood fanatic, don't go to this movie thinking it's a Robin Hood movie. If anything, it's a Robin Hood prequel movie where Robin is older and not even a nobleman. King Richard is a jerk who dies in France and Robin of Loxley is the nobleman carrying the crown home when he's set upon by thieves and rogues who were paid by the king of France to kill Richard. Talk about bad timing. Russell Crowe runs off the thieves and rogues but not before they mortally wound Robin of Loxley. Robin of Loxley gives Russell his sword and sends him back to England with the task of returning the sword to his father. Russell does and becomes the new Robin of Loxley, at the blind father's request. Maid Marion isn't a maid at all but rather the harsh widow Robin of Loxley leaves behind. A lot of reviews I read didn't like Cate Blanchett as Marion, saying she was too harsh and not, you know, the Maid Marion of legends old. But you know what? I liked her. I liked her character a lot. She was appropriate for the film and she kicked ass. Actress Sienna Miller (best known, I think, for being attached to Jude Law when he cheated on her by sleeping with the nanny) was supposed to play Marion but was replaced with Blancette...good call, Mr. Scott! Good call. But then again, I've always been a Cate Blanchett fan so maybe I'm not the most impartial reviewer.
That aside, I am not much of a Russell Crowe fan. But he's a good actor. I don't much care for his personality. But that's neither here nor there, I suppose. He wasn't bad in this role either. I was reading some reactions of people on Facebook and someone said they would have liked to have seen Christian Bale (another fantastic actor with some severe personality issues) and I would have liked to have seen that too. Christian Bale would have been good, I think.
But Russell wasn't bad. There were huge chunks of this film that were ripped from the Scott/Crowe movie Gladiator and a couple of parts that reminded me so strongly of Lord of the Rings (right down to the film's score). The boats the French use to invade England at the end looked like they were left over from the Saving Private Ryan set. There's a saying that good writers borrow, great writers steal. I guess it works for filmmakers too.
The supporting cast is underused in this mess of a film. You see Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, Alan a Dale and Little John but they don't get all that much to do. The Sheriff of Nottingham is seen all too briefly as he's not the villain of the piece. Eleanor of Acqutaine makes an appearance as she is as you would expect her to be played. Prince John (or King John, I guess since Richard dies early on) is played as a fool. And I didn't like that. He seemed all right in his first scene, appropriately boorish and whatnot, but then, by the film's big climatic battle scene, he was just a clueless boob and I really don't think John was like that. Or I prefer it when he's played smarter. Smart and devious. Makes a better villain every time.
So if you're still interested in seeing the movie, don't go thinking it's going to be a Robin Hood movie. Just go watch it as a flawed summer action movie with swords and archery. Forget the Robin Hood thing entirely. It'll just be better if you do. One last thing before I go: