Director Ridley Scott does away with the romp and romantic adventure that has permeated the Robin Hood myth down through the ages, and through a number of onscreen iterations to tell a more historical-based version of the tale.
He packs it with stars, but the lack of derring-do may have kept audiences away, who knew what they wanted from their Robin Hood movies, and this wasn’t it.
Stepping into the hood is Russell Crowe. Robin Longstride is returning from the crusades with his mates Little John (Kevin Durand), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes) and Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle). They are the first of a number of returning men, who bear the news that King Richard (Danny Huston) is dead, clearing the way for Prince John (Oscar Isaac) to lay claim to the throne with his lovely French bride, Isabella (Lea Seydoux).
Working behind the scenes with the French king is Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) who is manipulating John, and working to divide the country to allow the French to come in and lay claim to it with ease.
Robin, posing as Robert of Loxley, husband of Marion (Cate Blanchett) – so she doesn’t lose the lands when her father-in-law (Max von Sydow) dies – begins to stand out as a person for the people even as he struggles to recall his own personal history.
John as King is willing to tax his people and rule them with an iron fist, but when threatened by the French will England unite, and will John become a true leader, or will all of this be set up to what the legends tell us happened next?
While there are some fun moments in the film, as well as some well-choreographed fight sequences, there’s no real soul or sense of fun to the film. The cavalcade of stars is impressive, and Scott’s attention to detail and technical proficiency remain unquestioned, it just lacks a sense of joy to it. While most of that lays in what we see, and how it is presented on the screen, the score didn’t do anything to elevate the film either, Marc Streitenfeld, who has worked with Scott before, delivers a serviceable enough score, but like the film itself, nothing stands out.
I’m not saying we can’t have a Robin Hood story told straight and true as an arrow’s flight, but none of the film really shone as joyously as it should have. I like so many aspects of the film, including the politics that are playing out, but viewers go into a Robin Hood movie with a sense of expectations, no matter who is making it.
This one could have been really impressive, a standout, but with nothing to elevate the story, neither myth nor legend comes to life and instead of being memorable, I fear this one will just sort of slip into the background behind other Robin Hood movies.