Film Review: Robin Hood
I didn’t have any desire to see Robin Hood, but my cousin and brother had already seen Iron Man II, and I sure as hell wasn’t seeing Furry Vengeance. And so I found myself in a near-empty movie theatre on Wednesday night, plopping down ten bucks to see a movie I had no desire to see.
The story, or, more appropriately, legend, of Robin Hood is one that’s been around for centuries and, I’m sure, will continue to be a part of the pop-culture milieu for years to come. There’s a reason for that: it’s a great story. There’s nothing people love more than a noble, lovable outlaw sticking up for the little guy, and you won’t find a more noble outlaw than Robin.
Unfortunately, this story is not about that guy. This movie might as well have been called “Classic Outlaws Origins: Robin Hood.” I’m assuming that another film will be in the works to complete the story, but this first one was simply showing us how Robin Hood became an outlaw. The movie works as a serviceable action flick, but in the pantheon of Robin Hood adaptations, it falls pretty low on the totem pole, mainly because we don’t get to see any of the things we’ve come to expect from Robin Hood. There’s no stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, no witty one-liners, and his band of merry men are a group of womanizing booze-hounds.
The action scenes are by far the best part of the movie, and there’s a lot of them to boot. Right from the get-go, we get a solid “storming the castle” sequence. I’m a sucker for old-school medieval combat scenes and this one had all the classic elements: flaming arrows flying through the air, guys with swords on horses, kings barking out orders, hot oil being poured down from the top of the castle, battering rams. There was also a refreshing lack of CGI. The rest of the battle scenes are good, but not quite as good as the first one. I was also a big fan of Max von Sydow, who plays Maid Marion’s father-in-law and Robin’s surrogate father, Sir Walter Loxley. Nothing like watching a curmudgeonly, quick-witted old man throwing verbal darts at everyone around him.
Russell Crowe does an adequate job, but I just do not picture Robin Hood looking like that. The Robin Hood I remember is far more mischievous and fun-loving (I’m thinking specifically of the Disney version, when he was played by a fox). The guy Crowe is playing is about the same thing as his character in Gladiator; a take-charge, no-nonsense type of guy with a hazy past.
I think the film’s lasting legacy will be Russell Crowe’s now-infamous “you’ve got dead ears, mate” tirade. When questioned as to whether his accent had a hint of Irish in it, Crowe lashed out at a BBC reporter, telling the man that he had “dead ears” if he thought there was a hint of Irish in his accent, a phrase which I will be trying my damnedest to incorporate into my arsenal in the days to come.
This isn’t a Robin Hood story by any stretch; the director could have just as easily change the names of a few characters and called it “Lambs to Lions” or some such title and no one would have blinked. It’s not a terrible movie, but there was never a moment when cared about any of the characters or had any emotional investment in what was going on. It is mildly entertaining, though, so if you’re looking for a non-Iron Man action movie with a lot of battle scenes on a random Wednesday night, give this a try.