ROBIN HOOD: Early Review
On Wednesday night, Universal Pictures held an early‚ secret screening of ROBIN HOOD at The Landmark in Los Angeles and friends of WAMG were invited to attend. What they reported back wasn’t promising….at all.
When I first heard that yet another version of a Robin Hood movie was in the works, I have to admit I winced. Didn’t you? I mean, really, this story been done numerous times already, resulting in much better movies, most notably THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) with Errol Flynn; ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976) with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn; and ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991) with Kevin Costner. But when I heard the names Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, I thought maybe there was hope. The GLADIATOR (2000) comparison was obvious. Russell Crowe in period costume engaging in epic battle scenes. We’d have to wait and see.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the wait. What I saw was a movie that really didn’t need to be made. Instead of the traditional “steal from the rich, give to the poor” story of an outlaw and his band of merry men, we got a convoluted back-story of where the famous character came from. As a child he saw his father killed and then was “put amongst men when I was 6 years old.” He grew up and joined the crusades of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) as an archer and here’s where the movie starts. Most everything after this point seems to happen to him by accident and really don’t feel the need to root for him for any reason.
Scott attempts to get off to a wild start with a battle scene in the first 10 minutes. And Crowe is his usual tough guy self, easily dispatching enemy soldiers, barely breaking a sweat. There are a few battle scenes throughout the movie that are mildly entertaining, but everything in between tends to drag. Keep in mind, he’s not even been declared the “outlaw Robin Hood” yet, he’s just working up to it. And along the way we are introduced to many of the familiar characters – Marian (Cate Blanchett, in a totally lackluster performance, not to mention having absolutely no chemistry with Crowe), Little John, and Friar Tuck (Mark Addy in one of the few bright performances, but can someone tell me if the friar was a beekeeper making moonshine?). Mark Strong’s attempt at a villain (Godfrey) is awkward at best. It almost seems like he is in a totally different movie than everybody else and nobody bothered to tell him. The character of Prince John is almost laughable. He wants to be such a bad-ass, and yet for most of the movie he is throwing out one-liners as if he were in a comedy club.
The biggest problem I had with the movie is what I went in fearing the most: the rip-offs. I guess I expected more from Ridley Scott. I know it’s tough to make a movie that has already been made so many times and try to keep it original. But the rip-offs are unnecessary and unforgivable. There is shot in the very beginning of an arrow flying through the air, in slow motion, directly at the camera. This was lifted straight out of ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. Hell, it was probably stock footage. Second, there’s the part where the French are storming the beaches in a carbon-copy scene of the invasion of Normandy right out of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Spielberg’s gonna be pissed. Then the most egregious of all – a scene where after totally screwing over his subjects with taxes they can’t afford and burning their villages, King John asks the English farmers to help him fight against the invading French. They are all arguing – some for, some against, and up steps Robin to make a rousing speech to the men about fighting for liberty. I SAW THIS SCENE WHEN IT WAS CALLED SONS OF SCOTLAND!!!!! For godsakes, Scott really thought he could pass this off?? Unfortunately, this movie is gonna get clobbered when it is released on May 14th. IRON MAN 2 will most likely still be dominating the box office from the previous weekend and SHREK EVER AFTER will assuredly be #1 the following weekend. The evening, however, wasn’t a complete wash. We did see Harvey Weinstein in the lobby and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the escalator.
To think that Universal was really counting on this one…sounds like all the slams on the trailers were correct. For those who can’t wait to see the men of the Sherwood on May 14th, here’s a newly released clip from ROBIN HOOD….