Robin Hood (140 minutes) tries way too hard to live up to the promise of an exciting new Robin Hood legend, but fails to deliver any real substance to back up the potential suggested by years of media buzz.
Waaay back in 2007 there was this really cool script circulating. The new script featured a heroic sheriff of Nottingham facing off against a less than noble Robin Hood, both in love with Maid Marian. A few Hollywoodstyle tweaks later, the sheriff of Nottingham is trapped between loyalty to the throne of an unpopular ruler and an outlaw attempting to gain rights for the people of England. After yet more adjustments, a sassy young upstart named Robin adopts the identity of the dead sheriff of Nottingham for some reason and does some Robin Hood stuff.
You know what? If Director Ridley Scott had gone with any of these three ideas, we might have a Robin Hood movie worth adding to the canon. Instead, at some point he said to himself, “Gosh, we could be innovative and challenge popular ideas OR we could take these fresh new perspectives and rewrite them until they end up as just one more standardized, sexist Robin Hood tale.” Guess which option he went with?
Much like the far superior Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves the film opens during the last years of the Crusades. Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) is kind of opinionated and has issues when people don’t agree with him. Unfortunately, he also has issues with people who agree with him too much, so Robin (Russell Crowe) ends up in a bit of sticky wicket when his opinion is solicited.
Following all this radically innovative character development, we are introduced to Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) and her father-in-law Walter (Max von Sydow). The duo are under pressure from the sheriff of Nottingham to pay more taxes, and are losing their crop to the weird, halfnaked, masked orphans of the Greenwood (Sherwood Forest, by any other name.)
The plot thickens, as apparently jerky Prince John (Oscar Isaac) is too busy working out his Oedipal complex to realize his right hand man Godfrey (Mark Strong) doesn’t have his best interests at heart. Thrown into this mix are some French dudes and a lot of back room dealing and backstabbing.
After a bit more plot development, lots of drinking, a few half-naked peasants, and several battle scenes, Robin, Marian, and the Merry Men are more or less in the same place, along with Friar Tuck (Mark Addy).
At this point, some random soldiers start attacking the peasantry in the name of John, which is understandably upsetting to all the nobles. Fortunately, Robin is a fabulous archer, capable of wooing a lady and inspiring the masses in a single breath. He is oh-so-manly. Marian is really quite lucky that a big strong man is around to solve her problems and prevent her from experiencing any authentic character development.
The film lumbers its way towards a dramatic Braveheart style battle, set on the beaches and featuring sweaty dudes in armor. At the very moment the audience believes that Marian is going to find her feminist redemption, Robin steps in and saves the day. Overall, it wasn’t a bad action movie; it just wasn’t a particularly outstanding Robin Hood movie either.