Posts Tagged ‘Robin Hood’


2010_robin_hood_001In a twelfth century twist on a modern saying, the only two things you can count on in “Robin Hood,” the handsome new retelling of the age old tale from director Ridley Scott, are taxes and treachery.

Set in the waning days of Richard the Lion Heart’s (Danny Huston) ten year long Crusade, the origin story of how Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) became Robin Hood, really picks up when Robin promises one of the king’s knights, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), that he will deliver a sword to Robert’s father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow), in Nottingham. Meanwhile, Richard’s ridiculous brother Prince John (Oscar Isaac) ignores his trusted advisors, his chancellor William Marshall (William Hurt) and his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins) and imposes crippling taxes on his subjects. Egging him on is the duplicitous Godfrey (Mark Strong), a traitor who is secretly trying to start a civil war and help France invade the country. Back in Nottingham, Robin delivers the sword, meets Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), helps save England from the French and for his trouble is declared an outlaw by King John.

The new “Robin Hood” isn’t the bright Technicolor tale of the famous Errol Flynn version. Scott’s vision of the story is dark, thematically and visually. It’s a raw boned and bloody story of greed, unfettered ambition and treachery with a complex plot that touches on some very modern issues like taxes, too much government and one that might make the people of Arizona happy—unwanted immigration. It’s a mostly historically correct representation of the time and the Robin Hood legend, but Scott has added in an unbelievable plot twist involving Robin’s father and a coincidence that stretches credulity to the breaking point. It seems so out-of-place and glaringly silly I’m sure the writers of the campy cartoon series “Rocket Robin Hood” would have rejected the idea as being too outlandish.

Despite that lapse in judgment, the movie works. Fans of “Gladiator” will feel a sense of déjà vu—the only thing separating the two movies is the time period and Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, and they’re both dead. Scott and Crowe have returned to the winning formula of historical drama mixed with strong characters and lots of crazy action.

At the center of it all is Crowe, possibly the only Hollywood a-lister he-man enough to pull off “Robin Hood’s” combo of raging machismo, honor and emotional intensity. Physically he doesn’t look like he spends much time at the gym, instead it seems like he earned those muscles the old fashioned way—by swinging a sword. Equally strong is Blanchett in a role that could be redubbed, Maid Marion, Warrior Princess. She defines twelfth century girl power and, as one of only three female characters, cuts through the thick cloud of testosterone that hangs over the movie like a cloud. The supporting cast, including Mark Strong—in what is now becoming his trademark bad guy routine—Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Danny Huston and Canadian Kevin Durand as the ironically named Little John, add much to the overall effect.

“Robin Hood” is a new take on an old story; it’s entertaining, occasionally funny and as epic a film as we’re likely to see this summer.

The long cinematic road of a medieval outlaw In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA May 14, 2010

Rocket Robin HoodRobin Hood comes in all shapes and sizes. According to the International Association for Robin Hood Studies (yes, there is such a thing), the 700-year-old hero of Sherwood Forest has been the subject of one of the earliest Legoland building systems, the inspiration for the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow and a flour company spokesman.

On film, the notorious archer and outlaw’s depictions are just as diverse. The first American Robin Hood film was a surreal 1912 silent featuring the Palisades of New Jersey standing in for Sherwood Forest and Hood’s inner personality portrayed by animal imagery superimposed over his face.

Less strange, but still rather odd, was the Canadian cartoon television series Rocket Robin Hood. It’s most notable for its crazy theme song—“For now,” they sing, “with our Robin, we live on a star”—and cut-rate, herky-jerky animation.

In live action he’s been played by everyone from John Cleese in the time-travelling comedy Time Bandits to Frank Sinatra as Robbo in Robin and the 7 Hoods, a musical that transplanted the Robin Hood fable to 1930s gangland Chicago. This weekend, Russell Crowe takes on the role in a more traditional telling of the story from director Ridley Scott.

The most famous version of the “rob from the rich and give to the poor” legend is 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. Although it’s his best known role, Flynn has said he found playing the outlaw boring, but audiences loved him and the movie’s sense of spectacle.

At the time of its release, it was Warner‘s most expensive and action packed film, costing more than $2 million and holding the record for the largest number of stuntmen ever used on any one movie. These days, the movie may have faded from the collective’s memory, but know it or not, you are probably familiar with the sound of Robin’s arrow as it flies through the air. That sound effect is a favorite Ben Burtt who has recycled it in almost all of the Star Wars films.

Also well known, but not as well regarded, is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, featuring Kevin Costner in the lead role. Not only did it feature Costner’s atrocious English accent but it pushed another, far superior, telling of the tale—1991’s Robin Hood with Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman—off the big screen to a direct to video release.