You know, since I was just a small girl, I have always been fascinated by the legends of British heroes. From King Arthur all the way to Peter Pan, there is something singularly original about the heroes of that place, and of them one of my very favorites has always been Robin Hood.
Which, I guess, is why this movie excited me so much; Robin Hood hasn’t taken to the big screen in years. And for all the things that were wrong with this movie – and there were a lot of things wrong with it – it won’t stop me from giving it a recommendation, because for all its flaws, this production does something right that will probably have me spending ten bucks to see it again.
File Ridley Scott’s latest movie under “attempting-to-be-historically-accurate reconstructions of legendary tales,” similar to the King Arthur flick that had Clive Owen and Kiera Knightley a few years back. Robin Longstride (Rusell Crowe) is a disenchanted Crusader who abandons his duties. On his way home, Robin meets the slaughtered caravan bearing King Richard the Lionheart’s crown back to London after he was murdered by a group of French invaders ushered into England by King John’s traitorous aide, Godfrey. Among the slaughtered men of the king, one is still alive – Robin Loxley, a friend of Richard the Lionheart, who asks Robin Longstride to take his sword to his elderly father in Nottingham.
The journey leads Robin Longstride to take the name Robin Loxley, blending the origin tales that say Robin was both a yeoman – a man of middle class – and a displaced nobleman, respectively. Along the way he discovers secrets about his own origin, meets Maid Marian, fights a bunch of French invaders, and pisses off King John by being just slightly less popular than Jesus. This leads to Robin becoming an outlaw, but then again no one is really surprised by that.
Of the original Merry Men only three make the cut – Little John, Will Scarlet, and Allan-a-Dale. Much the Miller’s Son is nowhere to be found, and even though Little John is supposedly Robin’s lieutenant, he doesn’t seem to be any closer to Robin than the rest of them. Will Scarlet is appropriately amusing, and along with Friar Tuck make up my favorite parts of this movie. “I’m not a churchy friar,” says Friar Tuck. “Never have been.”
Of “robbing the rich and giving to the poor” there is very little – one scene, very amusingly written, but all too brief. The rest of the movie is devoted to stopping the invading Frenchmen, which, while very telling of Robin’s character and the time period that fostered him, had little to do with the tale of Robin Hood. The Sherriff of Nottingham is almost a nonentity, and Robin was not the playful outlaw from the tales, but a Very Serious Man who was almost always in need of a good drink and a laugh.
My one greatest grievance in this entire movie is Cate Blanchett. No matter what movie I see her in, she always seems to play Cate Blanchett – and here Marian loses all individuality in the face of it. Blanchett wasn’t bad, she just wasn’t very good, with the exception of one scene in which I felt she most embodied the character: a scene in which a weary Marian, having just received terrible news, rests her head on Robin’s shoulder. That was when I forgot that Marian was Cate Blanchett and was able to properly recognize the character.
There are a few other nitpicks, but they are only nitpicks. I found this to be a good movie with a few glaring flaws that are glaring only to the type of nerd who reads The Gest Of Robyn Hode for fun – for most people, this movie will be completely enjoyable, and I definitely recommend it.