Movie Review: "Robin Hood" (2010)


This is not the legend.

“Robin Hood,” Directed by Ridley Scott, from a script by Brian Helgeland, lands us back into territory we hoped for since Scott and Crowe began a partnership.

An origin story of complex means, “Robin Hood” isn’t as straight-forward as a “Batman Begins,” or as simple as a “Spider-Man;” it’s not comprised of a simple revenge story and one or two bad men who need to be stopped. There’s more here.

Returned from the crusades, Robin Longstride seeks a way home when; circumstances force him to Nottingham to fulfill a promise to a dying man. He finds himself in a country taxed beyond its means, on the brink of war with the crown, made worse by Mark Strong’s, Godfrey, leading French troops in the guise of English in order to turn the country against itself.

Doesn’t sound like the Robin Hood you’re used to? It isn’t. But before you dissuade yourself from a trip to the theatre, because of the perceived lack of romance and adventure you’re accustomed to in each new Errol Flynn re-hash, ask yourself about the last time Cate Blanchett signed up for a truly awful film…

The argument could be made that the time spent dwelling on Robin and Marion’s romance glosses over the depth of it, leaving it shallow and unconvincing, but that would ignore the commentary on inheritance of property, and the need of the common people to be supported by a noble class. Robin agrees to act as Marion’s dead crusader husband, in part, because with out him holding title, Nottingham would be without protection, subject to the whims and greed of higher nobility. That, and Marion has the bottom of a school girl, apparently.

The argument could also be made that the lost youth hidden in Nottingham’s forests, stealing to survive, were a pointless addition to the story, but that would ignore the set-up of the already disenfranchised, those stealing to survive, and waiting for a leader. It’s said the youth are our future, and it isn’t any different here. This is the future for all under King John, and the leader they need is being born on screen, a victim of his times.

The film builds on the idea that a king is in need of his people more than they are in need of a king. King John, well portrayed by Oscar Isaac, was considered one of the worst Kings in English history: “Bad King John.” It is the films penultimate moment with John that seals the deal. With this idea John declares him an outlaw, unable to reason with a man who commands more respect with the people. It’s an interesting notion, a complicated one, and one that most Hollywood films don’t give US audiences credit for understanding. John declares an outlaw, and hundreds of years later we declare a legend.

“Robin Hood,” is a compelling story on a culture, which by its very existence inspires the creation of a hero, and in this case, needs one. Depicting the events, stories, and cultural fixtures of a time which total in such a way as to create legend, the film isn’t so much a commentary on our time as it is an evaluation of why heroes are created in the first place. And, of course, with action as only Ridley Scott can film it.

 “And so the legend begins.” Please, get that straight.

What: "Robin Hood"

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett

Rated: PG-13, for a ton of violence and a couple of silly jokes

Should you go? You bet. Big-budget movies not aimed at the preteen demographic do not come along very often. Old-movie fans may want to know that this "Robin Hood" involves many of the same characters and is set shortly after the events of "The Lion in Winter."