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ROBIN HOOD: Early Review

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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….

Photos: Universal Pictures
Video Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies

Huge passion for film scores, Lives for the Academy Awards, Loves movie trailers.

26 Comments

  1. Pingback: Details on Ridley Scott's 'Alien' Prequel, 'Robin Hood' Screening Reports | The Film Stage

  2. Lucilla

    April 23, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Really, it depends on what the viewers like. If they don't find one movie interesting, some other people might. I'm a huge Russell Crowe fan, and i've been waiting for this film to hit theaters since February 2010. I love all of Russell Crowe's movies. (though i didn't find Body of Lies very impressive) Gladiator ruled as #20 in the Best Movies of the Decade, and i like the fact that Russell Crowe's sporting the Gladiator look again. There's some kind of accidental sexiness about him. I'm really not prepared for disappointment. The film is bound to be a success. I don't care what movie review people say, i'll like the film. I like any film with Russell Crowe in it. Ridley Scott chose a brilliant actress to portray Maid Marian. Cate Blanchett is beautiful and very talented. Putting her alongside Russell Crowe was something only Ridley Scott could have come up with. Two Academy Award/Oscar winners is bound to make the film a success. I love epic drama/action movies, and Robin Hood is my kind of movie. I can't wait for this film to hit theaters! I love Russell Crowe!

  3. je pressman

    April 23, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    This review sounds as if you decided in advance that there wasn't much to like about a new Robin Hood movie. This attitude pops up ALL the time with film geeks and citing elements from other past films indicates movie ennui. You could have written this review without seeing Robin Hood at all. In a way I suppose you have. As for the mention of the arrow flying through the air, well this isa story of the the middle ages and Robin is an archer par excellence as are his men, so why is showing the arrow redundant?The how and why of life in that time period needs to be shown . As for too many familiar elements,look at all the super hero comic book character movies.. now did we really need to have yet another Iron Man, Bat Man, etc;etc;etc;?

  4. Lucilla

    April 23, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Your totally right. They could have not even seen the film at all. And i think the film will be a success! I mean really, some movie geeks just need to shut up! And let the public see for them selves if “they” like the film of not. I’ll like the film, as i said in my comment below. The film has a sexy cast, horses and grown-up romance. Russell Crowe is simply magnificent! And Cate Blanchett really brings out the romantic side of Robin. She’s beautiful and tuff. But like i said before, the movie geeks just need to shut up!

  5. je pressman

    April 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Is there a film geek review of Iron Man 2 available now? Isn't IM2 to be released the week before Robin Hood? HMMMMMM

  6. Panda Hugger

    April 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    quick question, Drucilla – if you think movie geeks need to shut up, why are you on here reading what was clearly marked as a "Review" in the headline in the first place? You don't like it just because it is a negative review? everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you don't like it, why don't you start your own website with unicorns and rainbows and nothing but happy positive reviews. Are you kidding me?? What are you like 12? "Cate Blanchett really brings out the romantic side of Robin" – seriously? How do you know that? did you see the movie already? You are a total idiot.

  7. movie geek too

    April 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    if drucilla..lucilla..cruella, whatever wants movie geeks to just shut up, why is she on a website called We Are Movie Geeks?? no one wants you here if you're just gonna be a dumb ass.

  8. Panda Hugger

    April 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    excuse me je pressman, but the blogger is inviting comment on the article and/or movie. Not inviting people to say that " the movie geeks just need to shut up!" on a website called We Are Movie Geeks. That's not expressing an opinion, its being a total idiot.

  9. WLM

    April 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Whoa, back to the film, guys, though I do appreciate je pressman's kind remarks on behalf of Lucilla, who deserves good manners, no matter what.

    I do also relate to je's notion of movie ennui. Like how spoiled and jaded do we need to be? The comparisons to other films is a bit overboard these days. We want something new and then complain when it's different. We complain when we see similarities that are actually laudable. Can't we accept the concept that this is a new read for this generation, a fresh and creative one, a prequel, and that it's not supposed to resemble the rest? I think Ridley and Russell have given enough interviews to indicate that they did indeed do some real research on the history of the legend of Robin, and then took some creative license. And so maybe people ought to realize that that 'traditional' version this reviewer seemed to miss was mostly created in Hollywood.

    That said, what she also points out is that so much of what happens to this new Robin is by accident. Yeah, a regular guy drawn into a mess. Robin was never tauted any other way. And so he stepped up to the plate to become a leader of men. Is that not the formula for the making of every hero, like Max in 'Gladiator,' a guy was royally screwed and came through to the bloody end in the name of honor? We've seen this before, like in 'Braveheart.' So should we give up on our heroes? Personally, I think this sounds like a novel exploration.

    And what this reviewer missed as well, when referring to Robin's call for liberty, is that his era and his thinking predated the signing of the Magna Carta, which did come to limit the power of the monarchy. Another historical development which was pertinent to the era in which the Robin legend developed. And okay too .. enough already about the idea that Spielberg did an invasion scene and that someone else filmed an arrow being shot, and so no one else ever need do the same. From what I can see so far of Ridley's stunning cinematography and his showing of the pure phsyical essence of a master archer, no one else has ever done it better. So, like Lucilla, I'm looking forward to this new 'Robin Hood.'

  10. Macloud

    April 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Sadly, having seen this film, it does not live up to its promise, or even close. I went hoping, ready to invest in the story, the filmmakers and the cast. There are some very strong moments, and some wonderful acting. I was unsure about Blanchette in this role, but she's fabulous, right up till' the end when the script call for her to miraculously become Ripley and join the hardened soldiers and whup' some. In a helmet that wasn't around for another 200 years. Most puzzeling, where most films fall flat in the second act, this story finally kicks in, winning our empathy and trust that these are characters we can invest in.

  11. je pressman

    April 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Panda Hugger you stated that ,"everyone is entitled to their opinion," well that includes the poster Lucilla not just the blogger . Actually the blogger is inviting comment,even yours. Calling people idiots makes you sound like a 12 year old.

  12. Macloud

    April 23, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    We can hope the plodding, mis-directed first act will finally pay off in nuanced meaning. And for 30 minutes or so, it does, as Von Sydow and Crow and Blanchette begin to win our audience hearts. But… baaah, the third act is like the first, wildly convoluted and uneven, with all teh Scott photographic mastery, but none, I mean none, of the "Gladiator" resonance, editing, pacing, STORY. The idea in and of itself is fine, and potentially fresh and engaging. I went ready for that experince. Instead what I got was simply ineffective, and without impact ultimately, like Richard the Lionheart himself in this portrayal. Tired, without purpose, a legacy of greatness behind him that he can no longer live up to. Please, don't mishandle Excalibur like this folks…

  13. Carolynn

    April 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I do not know why anyone would bother to remake Robin Hood all over again when there is already the perfect movie about him starring the most handsome, perfect star to play him: I speak of ROBIN HOOD;PRINCE OF THIEVES AND KEVIN COSTNER. I see no need in partaking of another version because I enjoy Prince of Thieves wholely. I don’t care for Russell Crowe and geez Louise, Cate Blanchett looks “blanched”. She’s horrible looking and ugly in this role. No, no, no. Scratch this version and send it to the bottom of the English Channel.

    • jepressman

      April 25, 2010 at 1:35 am

      The Prince of Thieves, as I remember it,was kind of disappointing storytelling .Costner ‘s take on Robin Hood suited him ,but it wasn,t very satisfying. Now that was released in the early 90′s,and after seeing it once I never watched it again….no need.I do believe Costner’s film inspired Mel Brooks to make Robin Hood, Men in Tights.

      • Carolynn

        April 27, 2010 at 12:11 am

        Everybody I know who has seen RHPOT love it and have seen it numerous times. Making another RH was a waste of time. PERIOD.

        • this guy

          May 3, 2010 at 10:57 pm

          Well your friends are lame. PERIOD.

  14. Pinkie

    April 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the review. It's rather sad to seem some rabid russell crowe fans – do they still exist??? – are unable to cope with the fact that 9 out of 10 people who have seen an advance screening are very negative about it. Rusty made another stinker. Boohoo.

  15. je pressman

    April 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    gee Pinkie thanks for contributing your astute points of view ,here.

  16. Robert of Locksley

    May 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    If you think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the ultimate film version of this story, I implore you to rent or go see The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn (it's playing right now in some revival houses). All other Robin Hoods are pretenders to the throne.

  17. je pressman

    May 7, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I have seen the Errol Flynn as Robin Hood movie and it is I believe 72 years old. It is pretty, the costumes are pretty and it has a hail well good fellow heartiness about it, but it also is of its time and looks and feels like a golden fairy tale take on Robin Hood. That isn't bad but the time period in which Robin lived was a troubled era ,lacking in positive leadership and also still tangled up with the Crusades.Now that view of Robin Hood is the one Scott tackled and I for one want to see it. All those previous films on Hood are history,you either liked them or not.A new take on RH is hardly presumptous or unecessary,but will be interesting,if you have an open mind.

  18. Dominic

    May 13, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Hi I,m British and this is my view.

    The movie is not about Robin Hood and I too agree that it borrows bits from other films including Braveheart. Sadly Ridley Scott has chucked out the original Robin Hood theme we all know and love and replaced it with anti establishment cliches and PC statements which I wont bother mentioning here.

    Even Russell Crowe and Kate Blanchett look bored to death and would rather be somewhere else.

    The only character I warmed to in this overserious bore of a movie was the Canadian guy who played Little John.

    My advice is to see a DVD copy of the 1991 Patrick Bergin version instead and go see Prince of Persia.

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  20. Rhys Phillips

    October 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Robin Hood movie is quite good, a bit more historically accurate in my opinion~-’

  21. Nursery Decoration 

    October 20, 2010 at 5:12 am

    robin hood movie has got lots of action and great cinematograpy”*.

  22. David

    September 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    This Robin Hood movie could have been so good, but small things in it make make it seems a bit disturbing that such a great set and play have been put together in that ridicule way… the instructor off this should start all over again to see the basic movie things that make a movie great, or just something that will be forgotten in 20years,,this could have been a classic..but after seeing it, i would say that the old one worth Kevin Costner is just as good or better..

  23. Annetta Rusu

    December 14, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Enjoy complete films for totally free

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