This film actually snuck up on me in the not so distant past. I wasn’t even aware work had wrapped up on a new Robin Hood story, let alone through the direction of the great Ridley Scott. Well here we are in the third weekend in May and Robin Hood has arrived. Starring the controversial Russell Crowe (at least that’s the way the media has portrayed him), we find ourselves going back to 12th century England where the good old English are still butting heads with the French and corruption is in good supply. Here is your heads-up because there are a few spoilers here. However, I prefer to think of them as money-savers. You can thank me later.
The movie starts off with a bang as English forces attempt to sack a castle currently in the possession of France. Robin amasses his little trio of friends and the quartet soon finds its way to calmer grounds, that is, until they meet up with the very devious Godfrey, played so convincingly conscienceless by Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass). The cat and mouse chase kind of ensues from here, but not really. I know that makes little sense, but how fitting it is. Why, you may ask? Because the story was such a confusing romp through western Europe that half the time I couldn’t tell if it was snowing or Tuesday.
Robin Hood is an origin movie so the plot takes us back before Robin’s meddlesome days committing thievery against the rich. He eventually meets up with Lady Marion played by Cate Blanchett. The chemistry is decent between the two as Marion delivers sarcasm to a usually grinning Robin Hood, who is assuming the identity of a fallen soldier. Ultimately, he catches glimpses of the past via diluted memories, but wait, the old man telling Robin about his past actually believes Robin to be someone else. It was at this point that I couldn’t tell if Robin of the Hood was encountering his own past or that of the person he claims to be.
For fans of the Robin Hood we all know, you will likely be disappointed. Nearly absent are the guerilla tactics that we associate with Robin Hood’s methods. There is not even a great deal of giving to the poor. Thankfully, we do see some proficient use with the bow, but such scenes are so few and far between that it contributed to the overall let-down of the movie. Ridley Scott has delivered a film that is far too heavy-handed in its storytelling, which effectively bogs down the attention span. At roughly two and a half hours of a stagnant story, I was doing my best to remain focused on the big screen in front of me.
While all of me realizes Crowe is a great actor, part of me wonders if he was the right cast for the role. In the end, it’s neither here nor there as the story lumbers forth like an injured beast. Some of the best scenes were when Hood’s mates were all together, hanging out and having a genuinely good time. Other than that, there was too much banter and unnecessary dialogue. For a time, all of the actors became Charlie Brown’s teacher in my head. Make no mistake, I wasn’t looking for straight action in this film. However, I did expect clarity and a story that didn’t come across like a semi-assembled jigsaw puzzle. Robin Hood gets one thumb down and when the time comes, rent at your own risk.