Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.
Robin Hood was a decent action-adventure film that had too much drama to keep me interested throughout.
Robin Longstride is an archer in Richard the Lionheart's army, helping Richard go back home and reclaim his throne. When Richard is killed in battle, Robin, along with some friends, decide to abandon the army and head for higher ground. They happen across the group of soldiers who have been tasked with returning the crown to the Queen Mother. The soldiers were ambushed by the French, and one of the soldier's asks Robin to bring his sword back to his father in Nottingham. Robin, feeling the need to honor the dead man, decides to do so and in order to help save his father's farm, pretends to be the dead man, now going as Robin Loxley. In doing so, he ends up in the middle of a battle between the new King, John, and John's trusted associate Godfrey, who secretly is working with the French to overthrow the King. King John is fracturing the country with his taxation, and Robin must work to bring the people together to stop the French.
This Robin Hood isn't the story of Robin Hood that we've all come to know and love. True or not, we all know that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. This movie, however, is about how Robin Hood came to be Robin Hood, and all the stealing and giving will come later - possibly in a sequel. Robin Hood is a mix of Braveheart and Gladiator only not as good as either of them. I considered it Braveheart-lite. It has battle scenes, love scenes, drama, action, everything that Braveheart but just at half the enjoyment. So let's start with the story. It took me a long time to realize that this wasn't going to be the story of Robin Hood as I knew it - this was more of an origin story, which is all the rage in superhero movies, but hasn't really been done from a dramatic figure point of view before. There was one scene where he stole something and returned it to someone less fortunate, but it lasted about 90 seconds. Kind of sowing the seeds for his future I suppose. Otherwise, this was the story of a man who started as a no-name and soon became the heart of a nation. Before having to live his life as an outlaw. By the way that scene in the trailer where King John yells out that Robin is an outlaw? Happens about 2 minutes before the end of the movie. It's not as if the story is bad in any way, it's just not anything new.
The movie was also too long. It clocks in at around 140 minutes, and about 20 minutes of that could have been easily cut to keep the pace up. There was a lot of redundancy in some of the scenes, and while I understand the need to show some romance, it stopped the story dead. It also lead to a ridiculous ending, which I will now sort of spoil here - so be warned. As the end of the movie approaches, Robin is leading a group of Englishmen into battle against the French. He has just left his beloved Maid Marion behind when suddenly, a masked rider enters the fray. Yes, it's Marion, along with what appears to be a bunch of children riding tiny horses. Really? So now Robin has to worry about her getting killed, along with fighting the French. And what was with the kids and the tiny horses? Why were they recruited for this? I actually laughed out loud when I saw her under the metal mask. Needless to say, she almost dies, but luckily Robin is there to save the day.
Russell Crowe was fine as Robin Hood. But it reminded me of a Tweet from Mindy Kaling who said 'I feel like Russell Crowe checks in with his agent every year to see when enough time has passed so he can remake Braveheart.' There was even a scene towards the end where he's riding on horseback in front of a bunch of soldiers. I kept waiting for him to yell out 'They may take our lives, but they'll never take, our Freedom!' Crowe has a good look about him, no question, but I had a hard time believing him to be a nice guy who would eventually steal from the rich and give back to the poor. He never really seemed like he wanted to be there. Cate Blanchett was fine as Maid Marion, giving Marion a bit of an edge. They probably could have used a no-name actress in the role, but she worked. The two actors that stood out for me were Oscar Isaac as Prince John and Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley. Sir Walter was blind, but still as feisty as someone his age could be. He was so full of life and took control of the screen whenever he appeared. The same could be said of Oscar Isaac. His take on King John was of a petulant youngster who got in way over his head and was now fighting to take control by being as obnoxious as he could possibly be. He was very annoying, but strangely, I kind of took to him. You knew exactly the kind of person he was and you appreciated him for it.
Visually, the movie was OK. Not as lush as some other films of the genre, but still acceptable. The battle sequences were well filmed, but again, not as good as other films of the same nature, including films done by Ridley Scott. I never felt really connected to anyone in the film either, which I think was because your lead actor didn't look like he wanted to be there. I think Scott needs to go out and find a new leading man to work with because Crowe is starting to fade. While he's undeniably talented, lately I feel like he'd rather be playing with his band.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Robin Hood was a so-so film. Cut out about 20 minutes and it would be better. And come up with a story I hadn't seen done a thousand times better before, and I'd be happier. It's not bad for mindless entertainment, but it's also not the story you expect to see.