Writer: Jonathan Sullivan

WARNING: Minor Spoilers for the story as a whole as I found it hard to talk about anything without giving away plot points not seen in the trailers.

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Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Director: Ridley Scott
Company: Universal Pictures


Robin Hood, the latest from director Ridley Scott, is filled with some good performances, excellent battle scenes, and an interesting twist on the Robin Hood lore. However, it is not without its problems and these problems hinder it from being as good as it could have been.

Russell Crowe stars as Robin Longstride, who is in the midst of battling through a ten year crusade led by England's King Richard (Danny Huston). When Richard is killed, Robin and his cohorts Little John (Kevin Durand), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), and Allan A'Dayle (Alan Doyle) decide to abandon the fight and head home before the rest of the army finds out about the death and the war is officially called off. They accidentally stumble onto an ambush of the King's men, in which the King was supposed to be assassinated. Robin and friends fight them away and Robin is asked by a dying soldier to return to his town of Nottingham and give his sword back to his father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow).

Robin reluctantly agrees, but before then, he stops in London to give the king's crown back to the family. Richard's brother John (Oscar Isaac) is appointed the new King and begins a heavy taxation on the people of England, much to the chagrin of his closest advisors. He appoints confidant Godfrey (Mark Strong) to carry out his new taxation orders, but Godfrey isn't as loyal as he seems.

Meanwhile back at Nottingham, Robin returns the sword to Sir Walter and he meets the wife of the dead knight Marion (Cate Blanchett). Instead of leaving like he wants to, Robin is coaxed by the old man to stay around and to raise morale in Nottingham by impersonating his dead son, even as the widow protests. As time goes on, Robin deals with this and England deals with the impending war with France, who are slowly headed to England for a return skirmish.

Robin Hood attacks the story in a really interesting way, being both a prequel and a re-telling. It delves into the story before Robin came to Nottingham, which hasn't been told before (at least to my knowledge), and also re-tells how he comes to Nottingham and meets future love Marion. Some people are not too keen on this idea, but I personally loved it; it gives the story a new life and a more interesting twist. Some people have complained about this, but I'll take this over the Kevin Costner version any day.

The acting performances are excellent. Russell Crowe makes a great Robin. Although he has moments where he switches into a Scottish accent (certain words here and there), this is the best work he has done in years. Cate Blanchett is Cate Blanchett and for her to give a bad performance would be unheard of. Robin's entourage are funny and entertaining, and Kevin Durand officially is forgiven for Legion. Mark Addy, as Friar Tuck, offers a few choice moments as well.

On the villainous side of things, Mark Strong turns in another wonderful performance, proving once again that he is the best villain actor going today. Oscar Isaac, as King John, is slimy and corrupt and his character was the one I was iffy on (anyone who has seen the trailer and his "OUUUUUTLAAAAW!" outburst can attest to this), but he has some great moments. John is a despicable person, who lusts after only power and riches (the opposite of his much loved brother Richard), and Isaac was perfect in the role. However, his resemblance to the lead singer of Foxy Shazam distracted me once or twice.

The action in Robin Hood is well paced and well shot. Ridley Scott is great at epic action scenes, and this movie does not disappoint. The opening and ending fights create a fantastic bookend to the story. The comparisons to Gladiator that I made when judging the trailer, however, are warranted when the two big battle scenes occur. They are reminiscent of the opening scene in Gladiator, but remember how awesome that was? Of course you do, and in Robin Hood, it is also awesome.

Robin Hood runs for about 140 minutes, and that is way too long to tell the story. There are three different party scenes, which all mimic each other, and go on for way too long. The middle, especially, had some moments that seemed to drag. If it had been only 120 minutes, I think it would have flowed much better. Also, they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on one line, repeating it over and over, which got really irritating.

Although it goes on longer than it should, Robin Hood is a good film. It's brilliantly shot, with a really interesting story and some of the best action scenes I have seen in quite some time. Reviews are middling, but I would recommend Robin Hood to any Ridley Scott fan or anyone who likes historical fiction.

Final Verdict:

B

 


Catrina
05/20/2010 11:28

I fell asleep during it

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