Sunday, June 06, 2010

Robin Hood Review

Let's be honest, the silver screen isn't doing as well as it used to. With home theatres becoming more affordable and providing such a great viewing experience, it's no wonder people are choosing to remain in the comforts of home rather than going out and paying high theatre prices. To take this one step further, the quality of the films being released in major cinemas today aren't exactly epic, at least in my opinion, thus providing further incentive to stay away.

So thank goodness for Ridley Scott. His latest offering, Robin Hood, isn't an exceptional film, but it is certainly a highly enjoyable experience and something worth seeing on the large screen.

Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), a common archer, is returning home with King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) and his army after the Third Crusade, and they're pillaging their way through France (though I believe the parts they were pillaging from weren't technically France yet). Through a series of events, and mainly for being an honest man, Robin deserts the army taking several of his companions with him. As they make their way homeward they come upon a group of King Richard's most trusted men who were ambushed and killed by a French party. After killing or driving away the French, including Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight in the pay of France, Robin speaks to the only surviving Englishman, Sir Robert of Loxley (Max von Sydow), who soon dies of his wounds. To increase their chances of a warm reception and to no longer appear as deserters, Robin and his men take the armour and possessions of the slain English knights and impersonate them, with Robin himself taking on the guise of Sir Robert.

Like all of Scott's past historical fiction, he takes a good bit of liberty with the story, and while there is certainly historical fact throughout, the film is not historically accurate. Not only did many events simply not occur, but some of them were quite far fetched to the point where it was harder to suspend my disbelief. That being said, however, this is a movie and not a historical text, and the purpose of the film is to entertain and it did so quite well.

Many critics had issues with Russell Crowe's accent, but it personally didn't bother me at all. Russell Crowe sounded like Russell Crowe and that was fine with me. The other characters, such as the Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), Little John (Kevin Durand), Friar Tuck (Mark Addy), etc. were acted well, and King John (Oscar Isaac) was quite the pompous jerk.

How Scott goes about weaving the tale of this deserter who becomes the legend we all know is an interesting one with both humour and drama balanced well. I found myself more impressed with the earlier battle scenes, and they were silver screen worthy despite their overall briefness, it was the later skirmishes that were more farfetched and while entertaining, had me questioning several military tactics used. The musical score was also well done, though not as strong as Scott's previous historical fiction pieces.

Ridley Scott is a director who consistently creates quality films with memorable characters, entertaining scripts, and solid production values, and while Robin Hood is not his strongest piece, it is a solid entry and worth the trip to the theatre for. It will also be interesting to see if a director's cut will ultimately be released, as some of Scott's past work was night and day between theatrical and director's cut. If that does occur, Robin Hood could emerge as a much stronger film. On one's home theatre system.

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