Robin Hood | Ridley Scott, 2010
At some point, Ridley Scott’s take on everyone’s favorite arrow-shooting vigilante in tights was going to be rather original. It was going to be, I believe, a sort of CSI look into Robin Hood’s adventures from the point of view of the sheriff of Nottingham. The script was at one point one of the hottest ones going around before landing at Universal. However, as time passed, and Ridley Scott waited for the leaves of the forests to turn the proper color, it became a dark and gritty origin story, “Robin Hood Begins” if you will. And that’s probably why people disliked it, because it wasn’t the Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, he was just a soldier wanting to go home who got into some trouble. And while that is indeed a problem, I found it to be a perfectly acceptable entry to a would-be franchise.
Like I said, Scott’s Robin Hood is an origin story. It starts with a battle of the crusades where King Richard the Lion Heart (Danny Huston). Among those soldiers is Robin Lonstride (Russell Crowe). The king dies in battle, so he decides to leave as soon as possible to avoid the crowds, and he is joined by his merry men Little John (Kevin Durand), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), and Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle). So, on their way, they run into a battle between the knights who were taking the crown back to London, and and Godfrey (Mark Strong), and English man working for the french. And so, they take the crown under false identities because they are measly soldiers and not knights, and then they have to go to Nottingham to deliver a sword that belonged to the father of one of fallen knights. But there, they meed Lady Marion (Cate Blanchette) and Sir Loxley (May Von Sydow) who persuade him to stay and pretend to be his son so that once he dies, his daughter-in-law would not lose their property. Then a shitload of stuff happens, and it ends in a battle.
The main problem with this from the moment they decided to turn it into a background story was that it wasn’t really going to be a Robin Hood film. It is just a story about a man who has a past, and one day is in the right place and the right time and becomes a hero of sorts. There is only one scene where he does what we know him to do, and that is the best part of the movie. But the rest, while not bad for what it is, just shouldn’t have been there. For example, the first hour or so is just them getting to Nottingham. Why did that need to take that long? They pretty much could have trimmed some fifteen minutes. Also, there are way too many subplots to look out for, but none of them get developed properly.
With that said, I enjoyed it a lot. A lot more than I should have given the problems with the story. Ridley Scott, while not at his best, sure knows how to shoot an action scene, and there are plenty of those here. Also, the production, from the cinematography and the sets, to the sound and the costumes, are top notch. It was an expensive movie, and it shows.
And I must also say that almost every part is perfectly cast. I have no problem with a rougher-looking Robin Hood, after all the character does have some lighter moments, and Russell Crowe was definitely up to the challenge. My beloved Cate Blanchett also plays a very different Lady Marion that what we are used to, but as always, she does what it is necessary to be great despite the fact that the character is pretty much one-dimetial. The veteran actors like Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, and Eileen Atkins also do their best, as well as those who play the merry men.
I loved Robin Hood for what it was, that is a perfectly crafted but problematic prequel to the legen we all know. It should not have been called Robin Hood, however. But now, I do hope they get around to making a sequel, as I believe that we will get a much better movie for the character then.