Robin Hood (2010)

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

                

Starring:  Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Mark Addy, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes.
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Director:  Ridley Scott
Rating:  PG-13
Running Time:  148 Mins.
Release Date:  May 14, 2010
DVD Release Date:  September 21, 2010
Box Office: $105.3 Million
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Scott Free Productions, Relativity Media, Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures.

Written by:  Brian Helgeland, adapted from a story idea by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris.

“Rise and rise again…until lambs become lions” – Inscription found throughout the film.

Teaming for the fifth time with director Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe returns as the lead actor and co-producer of “Robin Hood”, the latest relaunch of the historic English folklore about an outlaw who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  There have been countless films, television movies, miniseries, and other efforts which have detailed Robin Hood’s exploits and…so…in a world where the perception exists that there are few ideas remaining in Hollywood, Crowe and Scott give us this umpteenth “Robin Hood” adventure.

“Robin Hood” is only the latest example of a relaunch or reinvention that looks and sounds great on paper or on the walls of a big studio boardroom.  Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott won Oscars for their big budget 2000 epic, “Gladiator”, and they have a clear affinity for working with one another.  Add in Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett as Marian, and an intriguing supporting cast including Max Von Sydow and Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood from 2009′s “Sherlock Holmes”), and seemingly, “Robin Hood” has a lot of the pieces in place.  That Crowe and Scott’s “Robin Hood” is largely devoid of any action or any truly memorable moments is rather puzzling to say the least.

Robin is fighting his way back home during the Third Crusade.  Skilled as an archer, a battle leads to to the demise of King Richard I (Danny Huston) and Robin becomes a de facto leader of sorts in an effort to bring his fellow soldiers home to England.  Following an ambush from the French, who are setting out to assassinate the already slain King Richard I, Robin assumes the name and identity of fallen soldier Sir Robert; fulfilling the promise he gave a dying Robert that we would return his sword to his father.

Traveling back to England, a new King is crowned and Robin is sought to inform the Royal family of the King’s demise.  Soon, Richard’s younger brother, King John (Oscar Isaac), assumes the throne and implements harsh rule on the people of England, long-suffering from deplorable living conditions.  Meeting Robert’s father (Max Von Sydow) and Marian (Cate Blanchett), Robin finds acceptance from Richard’s father and strong disdain initially from Maid Marian.  Reacting to the burgeoning unrest in England and the continued threat of the French, Robin assembles a group of skilled soldiers to aid him in his newfound quest to help England emerge from its horrible conditions.  Eventually, Robin sets out to help the people by going after the wealthy – bringing heavily taxed items that few can afford to the people who can utilize them the most, namely, the townsfolk who have suffered for so long.  Robin’s taking from the wealthy and highest of society endears himself to the lovely Marian, lifts him to a place of respect and idolatry amongst fellow fighters and brands him as an outlaw by the anxious and increasingly desperate king.

If you can get past the “why” factor of this movie’s existence, the results of “Robin Hood” 2010 are largely as anticipated – impressive presentation, mega budget and effects, and star power throughout.  Acknowledging all of that, there is no real need for any of this.  Everything looks amazing, as is often the case in a big budget wannabe epic such as this.  And there are some thrilling action sequences; although for my taste, the only impressive ones start and finish the film, serving as cinematic bookends and nothing else.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some nice moments between actors.  Watching Max Von Sydow on screen is always a treat and he amplifies the proceedings tremendously in quiet and subdued moments with Robin.  Russell Crowe is fine and brings to Robin Hood nothing you haven’t seen before.  Cate Blanchett also stands out as Marian, although it takes awhile for her character to get off the ground.  Brian Helgeland, an accomplished and usually impressive screenwriter, seems to keep a connection to Marian at arms length for so long, that when she warms to Robin and falls in love, we have grown weary of how long it took and have no specific connection to her emotions or burgeoning desires for Robin.

At 140 minutes, minutes I felt every bit of, I kept thinking where is the fun?  Where is the excitement?  What am I doing sitting here and why am I watching all this  happen?  Save about 20-25 great minutes, much of “Robin Hood” just is.  In some ways it represents the very worst of big studio filmmaking.  Specifically, the message being, “You just sit there and watch the amazing happen.”   For those of us who actually want to be engaged and take part in that amazing happening, I began resenting being held at arm’s length. reduced to observer and not participant.

With the Crowe/Scott “Robin Hood” I felt as if I was appeasing wealthy moviemakers, drunk in excess.  Drawing a parallel between the heroic actions of Robin and my experiences as a film reviewer, I wanted to take from them…and give to the struggling indie filmmaker, with a great movie, who cannot seem to find an audience or a screen at the local movieplex.  An irony perhaps completely lost on those involved with this long, spotty, and ultimately unnecessary “Robin Hood”.

Should I See It?

YES

You are a fan of Robin Hood films and want to see how the newest version compares.

Russell Crowe fans will be drawn to see his long-awaited return to the action/adventure genre.

Amazing visuals of the English landscapes and some incredibly visual style could make the 140 minutes pass by, as the film’s production value is outstanding.

NO

Its length and drab, exposition-heavy story will make many tune out and wonder where the action is, perhaps even resulting in watch-checking.

At the end of the day, I am not sure what the idea of this was other than to make big money and reintroduce Russell Crowe as an action star.  Haven’t we had enough of both?

There is this big budget Hollywood epic adventure, or the smaller, character-driven story you can relate to is probably either in the same cinema, or down the road aways.  You deserve something better for your dollars spent.

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