Published on July 24th, 2015 | by The Horse0
Robin Hood (2010)
Gladiator 2: Electric Boogaloo
Brian Helgeland (screenplay, story) Ethan Reiff (story), Cyrus Voris (story)
Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, Matthew Macfadyen, Scott Grimes
Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood reboot (or prequel, origin story, alternative universe, whatever) begins promisingly. His handling of the opening frenetic battle and its bleak-as-fuck aftermath is typically adept.
Sadly, the wheels soon come off this take on the legend, as action set pieces and solid casting can’t save it from its convoluted and unfulfilling plot.
Briefly, King Richard dies in France, so Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his band of merry deserters flee the doomed crusade.
Back in England, they come across Robert of Loxley about to snuff it. For some vague reason, Rob-in agrees to take Rob-ert‘s sword back to the dying man’s dad.
In doing so, Robin assumes Loxley’s identity. As luck would have it, Loxley Snr is blind, so the hilarious ruse goes unnoticed at first.
When Daddy Loxley realises he’s been coaxed into a snafu, he doesn’t fuck Robin’s shit up there and then like he should, but tells the impostor to carry on with his macabre pretence.
Then, like a good father-in-law, he offers Robin-bert his dead son’s wife, Marion (Cate Blanchett). The Lady Marion is initially sort-of horrified by this, but it doesn’t last long. The new guy is handsome and her old husband’s dead anyway, so what the hell.
Queue some medieval Anglo-Franco political machinations and a load of bollocks about an inscription on a stone marking Robin’s birthplace, which is magically linked to his sword, or something.
The result is embarrassment for the toffee-nosed nobles (hurrah!), turnips and mead for the oppressed plebs (hurrah!), and a jolly good scrap with the French (hurrah!).
Are you not entertained?
It was originally called Nottingham, a title nixed presumably because it suggested the movie was all about the Sheriff, not because it would’ve caused problems for said borough council’s search engine optimisation.
But the original revisionist pitch, with its Robin-Sheriff-Marian love triangle and morally ambiguous characters, might have been a better idea.
For whatever reason, it didn’t twang Scott’s bow and he put the kibosh on it. This resulted in a revolving-door of writers, stalling development, and script problems.
At one point, Russell Crowe was supposedly playing both Hood and Nottingham – which would have added an interesting aspect to the Maid Marian love triangle idea.
The ensemble cast list looks awesome on paper, but ends up being a bit half-arsed. The plot lacks balance and consistency, leaving central characters underdeveloped and likeable characters wasting away on the periphery.
There’s only a whiff of Merry Men, and Blanchett as Marion Loxley has little to do – it’s very much The Robin Hood Show.
The ending arrogantly teases a sequel, in that risky way that failure and hindsight render faintly ridiculous and utterly embarrassing.
Indeed two films were promised, with Scott even going on record to say “Let’s say we might presume there’s a sequel.” Oof.
And this after he slagged off all the other previous versions, referring to 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as the one with “Kevin Costner in the wig”.
It’s tempting to conclude that the shot flew wide enough of the mark to be considered an abject failure, but the Big Name director, stellar cast, and Scott-Crowe pairing ensured that Robin Hood became and remains the second highest-grossing medieval film to date.
The first? Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, obvs.