Editing & effects connected like never before, at a price never seen before. Until Jan 25th 2013, you can get Autodesk Smoke from Digistor for 20% off. Combine the leading editing & effects software with a system & support from Digistor.
Do you agree that the producer offset should be raised from 20 to 40 per cent for television?
Robin Hood review
[Fri 14/05/2010 11:29:04]
Burdened by the weight of expectation, Robin Hood is over long, overblown, and over hyped. As a result, this archer misses the bullseye.
The film starts promisingly enough. After some Blackadder-y Medieval scrolls set the olde worlde scene, we meet Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), a humble and courageous archer fighting the Crusades in France for Richard the Lionheart (a very under-the-radar Danny Huston). When the king is killed in battle, a decisive and brass-necked Longstride takes advantage of implausibly fortuitous coincidence to escape the army and return to England considerably higher of rank and with a band of merry men.
But all is not so merry back home. Bankrupted by the cost of the Crusades, the ambitious and head-strong new King John imposes stringent taxes to recoup the losses, which brings an already struggling country to its knees and on the brink of civil war.
France, sensing weakness and in-fighting, hatches plans to invade England thanks to their man on the inside, the double-crossing and self-serving British noble, Godfrey (Mark Strong).
In successfully re-uniting a fractured country to see off the French, Robin enjoys a meteoric rise from foot soldier to national hero. But King John, threatened by this new leader's sudden popularity and unimpressed by his lack of nobility, casts him aside.
This, then, is the origin story behind the legend: the prequel that explains (with a fair amount of literary license) how Robin Longstride the archer may have become Robin Hood the outlaw. In ending where all the other Hoods have begun, director Ridley Scott has probably engineered himself a new franchise. But in blowing over $140m on this 140-minute epic, one could argue he himself has robbed from the rich and given us something poor.
The main problem is, by once again casting Crowe as an heroic warrior fighting all the odds for an honourable cause, comparisons to Scott's Gladiator are unavoidable. (Oscar Isaac's King John shares more than a little DNA in common with Joaquin Phoenix's Commodus, for example.) But next to The Spaniard, this Englishman doesn't quite measure up. Nor, for that matter, is he as good as Mel Gibson's William Wallace in Braveheart.
The Robin Hood plot is convoluted and at times ponderous, the battle scenes are a dizzying shakycam chaos of arrows and clanging metal, and several key characters remain disappointingly underdeveloped. We see little of Little John and the Sheriff of Nottingham barely features in this prequel – which is a shame.
And just what are those voices supposed to be? Scott's Robin Hood doesn't really know where he is from. And judging from his accent, which veers laughably from Scouse to Scottish via ee-bah-gum Yorkshire, neither do we. Perhaps this is deliberate, indicative of the itinerant lifestyle of a career soldier. As Hood discovers by piecing together some submerged flashback memories and exhuming long-buried emotions, he is from Nottingham. Which is, of course, where he meets an ice maiden called Marian (Cate Blanchett), a blanched-out woman of nobility who has fallen on tough times. But even her accent, while more consistent, occasionally grates. When she yells "y'bastads!" at some looters who have stolen her seed grain, our Cate sounds like a screeching council estate chav.
So what are the saving graces? Though there is little apparent chemistry between Robin and a very washed-out looking Marian, it's interesting to have the two main characters played by seasoned pros who look battle-hardened and, let's face it, a bit old. There is a realism to their relationship. They don't so much fall in love as settle for each other. A formidable woman, Blanchett is more than a ditzy love-interest. (Thank goodness they dropped the originally-cast Sienna Miller.) Having wasted 10 years of her life waiting for her husband who will never return from the Crusades, Marian pragmatically takes what's on offer with an air of resignation. Well, she ain't getting any younger.
For his part, Crowe looks steely and stacked, every inch the leading man. He has lost a Friar Tuck-load of weight to be in his best shape in a decade – yes, since Gladiator.
Mark Strong gets strong marks, cementing his growing reputation as the baddest villain on the big screen. Without giving too much away, the expression on his face in his final scene is wonderfully sinister.
And to his great credit, Scott avoids the temptation to resort to Hollywood schmaltz and cliché (unlike Gladiator). Although half an hour too long, Robin Hood is a gritty period drama with no room for romance. Even the final kiss at the film's denouement is tinged with the metallic taste of blood.
If you are going to see Robin Hood, don't wait for the DVD. While the set does look like a Disneyfied rendering of Medieval England at times, visually the film has that epic quality that only really works on the big screen.
The film as a whole is not terrible by any means. It's just not as good as it should be. Go and see it without any high expectations whatsoever and you won't feel robbed.