PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.
May 14 , 2010
Action/Adventure, Adaptation and Drama
Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow
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By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
When reviewing films based on the legend of Robin Hood one can’t help but get caught up in all the men in tights who have trod across the movie screen in previous stints as the original dark knight. Despite an abundance of computer generated arrows flying around in scene after scene in Robin Hood (opening this weekend) Russell Crowe is no Errol Flynn.
Scott had a difficult task in taking on a project so well traveled in story and scope. In essence, he is taking a 900 year old tale and filtering it through the lens of Hollywood . To some extent he has done a credible job. The battle scenes are fantastic. The costumes are exquisite. As for the actual telling of the story; I’m not so sure.
In a workmanlike performance, Crowe has re-teamed with director Ridley Scott to create a tale well-rooted in history but lacking in the original story’s authenticity. The battle scenes are highly realistic, the costumes are textbook perfect, but at end of the film’s 148 minutes you are left feeling slightly empty.
The year is 1199 and Robin Longstride (Crowe) is on his way from a crusade with Richard the Lionhart (Danny Huston). In an attempt to overtake a castle in France, Richard is killed. Robin and a group of men who would soon become known as “merry” decide that they need to journey back to England. On the way, they stumble across an ambush as a group of thieves led by the evil Godfrey (Mark Strong) are trying to steal the English crown. Godfrey gets away but Robin and his men are left with several items, one of which is a precious sword entrusted to him by a fallen knight.
Robin promises the mortally wounded knight that he will return the sword to his father (Max von Sydow) in Nottingham. There is but one problem – when he arrives there it is decided that he should impersonate the fallen knight. When Robin agrees he encounters a whole host of issues he wasn’t expecting, the least of which is what to do about his perceived “marriage” to the fiesty Maid Marion (Cate Blanchett).
Through this arranged relationship, Robin soon discovers the harsh realities of what King John’s (Oscar Isaac) taxation is doing to slowly destroy Nottingham and other villages like it. Justice must be served and Robin decides he is the one to lead the rebellion.
Robin Hood is filled with all the grit and harsh reality that previous Robin Hood films have lacked. That is a good thing. But for every castle set on fire or the whooshing of an arrow that makes you feel like you are right there in the middle of the action, one can’t help but get lost in the historical hyperbole. I would recommend you do a little light reading on the Third Crusade and the Magna Carta before paying the price of admission.
Not your typical Robin, Crowe benefits greatly from intricately detailed sets and the superb sound editing surrounding him. His brooding demeanor is larger than life. He is certainly an intense, brawny warrior. But by film’s end, I was left thinking I had just watched Maximus in Sherwood Forest.
While Blanchett turns in her usual well-crafted performance (although I could have done without her presence in the final battle scene), viewers are likely to be more tuned in to other cast members. Von Sydow does a splendid job of portraying Marion’s elderly father-in-law, Sir Walter Loxley, in a sometimes humorous manner. Mark Addy seems to be perfectly cast as Friar Tuck while Robin’s band of merry men are well represented by Kevin Durand (Little John) and Scottt Grimes (Will Scarlett).
While we see many strong virtues in Robin and his men, viewers should be wary of a fair degree of violence. There is not a great deal of blood but many sequences of warfare are featured including sceme involving a man being dragged by a horse with a rope tied around his neck.
In addition, there are a few scenes carrying sexual tension between Robin and Marion that never quite materialize. However, viewers are left to process one suggestive scene early in the film involving a sexual encounter between King John and a French woman while his long-suffering wife stands outside the door to their bed chamber weeping.
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