As a self-proclaimed film critic, you always want to maintain a certain level of sophistication to your reviews. You don’t want to spout clichés
or make the kind of extreme and unimaginative exclamations you hear the average Joe make. “This movie was awesome!” “This movie was
boring as hell!”
Unfortunately, in the case of director Ridley Scott’s and screenwriter Brian Helgeland’s reimagining of the classic legend of “Robin Hood,”
that sophistication isn’t required. This movie is boring as hell.
Many of the problems are rooted in the screenplay, which is needlessly and horrifically convoluted. There are far too many subplots going
on here, all at the expense of Robin himself. They range from dull medieval political maneuvering to even duller medieval political
maneuvering. Anyone expecting a swashbuckling adventure will certainly be more than disappointed.
I actually don’t have a problem with reinventing the story a bit. Lord knows the standard version has been done to death. But in doing so,
the filmmakers have overcompensated to a degree that strips the story of any of the excitement and magic that has inspired the adventure
genre from the very first days of cinema onward.
Working with writer William Monahan, Scott delivered a phenomenal (and tragically underappreciated) medieval epic in “Kingdom of
Heaven.” “Robin Hood” is similar in its themes and its execution, but inferior on every level.
The film’s greatest success is the cast. Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett are excellent as Robin and Marian, and the supporting actors are
very good as well. It’s a shame to see such talent wasted on this dull and dreary screenplay.
Because so much of the story emphasizes politics over adventure or character, we feel absolutely nothing.
Even the action sequences are underwhelming. Scott has proved to be the master of these large scale set pieces in both “Gladiator” and
the aforementioned “Kingdom of Heaven.” “Robin Hood” lacks the emotion of the ones in “Gladiator” and the incredible scale and
choreography of those found in “Kingdom of Heaven.”
Judging by his previous movies, Scott seems to be a fairly humorless man. I think there was one joke in “Gladiator” (Remember when the
guy faked choking on his soup?). This works out fine because he generally doesn’t attempt humor (outside of his horrid attempts at making
films set in present day, of course). But here, Helgeland tries to shoehorn in some laughs through Robin’s merry men. These are generally
awkward and, more importantly, not funny.
I guess ‘shoehorn’ is a good way to describe a lot of the film. Because it is so underwhelming and shares so little with what we think of as
the legend of Robin Hood, it ends up feeling like a generic medieval drama that has had the Robin Hood name slapped on to widen its
The ending is particularly forced as it serves as a setup for the actual known legend, and is therefore not an ending at all.
It is worth noting that the film does have the excellent art direction we come to expect from a Ridley Scott production and John Mathieson’s
cinematography is excellent.
The film’s music is also a nice surprise, as relative unknown Marc Streitenfeld delivers a very serviceable score.
If it seemed like most of this review was spent talking about other films, it’s because Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” simply doesn’t create an
identity for itself. Scott is certainly a strange choice for a classic swashbuckling story. But even completely detached from the legend,
Scott fails on almost every level with this film. Aside from its solid production values and an excellent cast, “Robin Hood” is completely
forgettable and only spares itself a lower score because as dull and uninspired as it is, it never embarrasses itself. And that’s very small
(out of four)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von
Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Music by: Marc Streitenfeld
Released: May 14, 2010; 148 Minutes