on May 14, 2010
As a scholar of the Middle Ages I can say you're not likely to see a better re-creation of the era of King John than any random frame you might pick from Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. From Celtic monuments to Roman ruins, to Loxley hall abundant with 12th century furnishings this film is breathtaking and superbly researched. Except perhaps for the huts clustered around London Tower-- the castle was in the midst of a city long before AD 1199. But real huts may be preferable to digital animation.
The authors know English history and the Robin Hood material and play fast and loose with both -- which is being true to the tradition of Mallory,Shakespeare, and the Victorian versions of the tale that nowadays seem to be taken for Robin Hood gospel.In a merry spirit of throwing a bit of everything into this script, we are being treated to glimpses of the masked Dying God in the forest (see archeologist Margaret Murray's The God of the Witches for what that's all about.) The Magna Carta -- complete with authentic signatures of the 1215 version and Matthew Paris's illustrations of shields from forty years later -- makes a premature appearance twice. And the royal favorite turns out to be an agent working for the unpopularity of the king to make way for an invasion from France -- a plot twist borrowed from the time of Richard III (don't trust Shakespeare for this, see Paul Murray Kendall's definitive Richard III.) But, hey, Walter Scott combines three centuries in the opening paragraphs of Ivanhoe, why can't Ridley Scott? I give this film five stars, it is stunningly produced, persuasively acted, and keeps up the long tradition of anchronism in Robin Hood plots.
on May 17, 2010
The story of Robin Hood has been told in films with different plot twists. In Douglas Fairbanks' version from 1922, Robin Hood is the Earl of Huntington, going off on Crusade with King Richard (played by Wallace Berry). Huntington returns to oppose Prince John, who is threatening to take the throne from his brother.
Errol Flynn's version has Robin Hood staying in England as a Saxon nobleman opposing Prince John for the same reasons as Douglas Fairbanks' Huntington. Kevin Costner keeps the Third Crusade in the story but adds a Muslim warrior played by Morgan Freeman. There are many approaches to telling the story of Robin Hood.
Ridley Scott's version is perhaps the most ambitious. The film begins with Richard the Lion Heart's siege of the Castle Chaulus Chabral in Normandy. This is where we meet Robin Longstride, a skilled archer, who has followed King Richard into battle for many years. The king looks for an honest man and is confronted with Longstride who has been running a game of chance and is accused (by Little John) of cheating. Robin is not cheating but, ironically, his honest answers to the king land him and his companions shackled. So much for honesty and kings.
The death of King Richard allows Robin and his companions to escape and flee back home. Along the way, they run across a party led by Robert Loxley retuning the crown back to England. Loxley has been attacked by an English nobleman named Godfrey (magnificently played by Mark Strong) who is conspiring with King Philip of France to invade England. Loxley is mortally wounded but Robin and his companions rout Godfrey and his men. The dying Loxley asks Robin to return his sword to his father. Not being a nobleman, Robin impersonates Loxley and returns the crown to the hands to Prince John.
The story develops with Robin and his men going to Nottingham where Robin is, conveniently, asked by Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) to pretend to be his son in order to preserve the household for his daughter-in-law Marion (Cate Blanchett). The story centers on stopping Godfry and the intended invasion of England by King Philip. A sub-plot concerns the rights of Englishmen centered on a documents of rights that Robin's father (long ago executed) was instrumental in conceiving. The document is the Magna Carta in all but name.
This Robin Hood brings the 12th century to life in all of its grim realities of hard work and, by our standards, hard living. The production design is beautifully conceived, down to the rushes strewn on the floor of the manor house. The performances are magnificent down to supporting roles. It was nice to see Mark Addy (of The Full Monty) as Friar Tuck and Oscar Isaac made an effective quarrelsome King John. John Hurt has a strong role as William Marshall, a courtier of King Richard, and Eileen Atkins made a strong Queen Eleanor. Danny Huston made an exciting Richard the Lion Heart.
The film ends with Robin declared an outlaw for supporting the rights of Englishmen. The film ends where Errol Flynn's version begins. I have not heard if Ridley Scott intends to take up the story but we are left in anticipation of what is to come. This Robin Hood is well acted and beautifully photographed. The story is refreshingly different from the other Robin Hood's but it is a story that has differed from film to film and television.
on May 19, 2010
I adored this movie. Not only did it give some humor, action, and what not- but it also gave a much more realistic and historic view of the famous Robin Hood.
I was watching the History channel the night before we went to see this movie in the theaters. I think it gave the movie sort of a prequel of what to expect along with actual historical information- whether it was on the kings, Robin Hood himself, or the weapons used. The amount of detail that went into the movie to make sure it was as historically accurate as possible was amazing. The construction of the bows, the shields and weapons used (my favorite part was the war hammer that Robin used near the end!) and the horses.
If you aren't interested in the historical part of RH and would rather see tons of explosions and what not- this movie may not be for you. If you are interested in a more realistic/historic tale of Robin Hood- then I think you'll enjoy this piece.
Check out the History channel's special on Robin Hood- [...] I think you'll come to find how amazing this movie is along with the amount of detail that was put into the weaponry and other items in the movie.
on September 15, 2010
Ridley Scott's version of Robin Hood isn't the version you're used to. This tells the mythical story of Robin Hood before he became an outlaw and lived in Sherwood Forest. Of course the story of Robin Hood is one of a lot of mythology and possibly a little bit of fact. No one knows the real story. Chances are that film/book depictions of "Robin Hood" are completely wrong, so it's difficult to say if this movie is realistic in any way, shape, or form - minus the historical accuracies dealing with the king of England.
This version of Robin Hood is probably the best I've seen. It's very entertaining, and not a "big, dumb action movie." It's not on the level of Ridley's Gladiator, but I think it's a big leap ahead of Kingdom of Heaven (the theatrical release, at least).
The problem with Robin Hood is the ending. *Warning: spoilers ahead if you don't know the story of Robin Hood* I have not seen the director's cut yet but I would hope that between the final 2 scenes in the film there's something stuck in between them as a bridge. You go from a pretty mediocre beach battle to the king declaring Robin Hood as an outlaw. It feels like they had to cut something, or they just got tired with the film and wanted it to end and they rushed through the final scenes. At any rate, the film almost completely falls apart at the end, though the shots of Robin Hood going into Sherwood Forest make up for a bit.
Ultimately, this is one of the most watchable films of the last couple of years. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it's entertaining and one that I could watch over and over again. It has that kind of vibe to it. Other films I put in that category (in recent release) are the Hurt Locker, Shutter Island, The Wrestler. Just films that I can watch and be entertained by no matter how many times I've seen them. That's good company, and though critics panned Robin Hood, you should give it a shot. As I said, from a technical standpoint I can see it's flaws, but this is a very entertaining movie, and sometimes that's good enough for me.
on June 17, 2010
When I first saw the previews for this movie, I wasn't interested. I don't know -something about the grotesque violence, Russell Crowe (who I am not a fan of) and the apparent absence of Robin Hood's quintessential robbing from the rich and giving to the poor made me wonder how on earth this could even be a Robin Hood movie. But after some close friends kept raving about how much they enjoyed it, I thought I'd give the Crowe/Ridley Scott Gladiator team a try and I found that I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would.
We meet the famous Robin Hood as a nothing archer in King Richard the Lionheart's army (known as Robin what-the-heck Longstride). After the king is killed in battle, Robin and his band of archer friends decide to disguise themselves as knights and travel back to England with news of the King's death. Before they can leave, though, a dying knight named Robert Loxely asks Robin to take his sword back to his father in Nottingham -Robin agrees. Once they arrive in England, John is crowned as king and Robin takes the sword to Loxley's father, who decides to pretend that Robin is his son returning from the Crusades. Not only does Robin suddenly finds himself a noble (and later a freedom fighter), but also the husband of Robert's wife, Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett).
The plot, once we get into it, is really interesting and well put-together, though with a few hiccups. The main issue I had was the lack of Robin stealing from the rich and giving to the poor -I know that seems so single-minded, but with a legend that's so embedded in our culture as doing these acts its so hard to think of him otherwise. I also kept in mind that this movie is meant to be an origin story and the entire thing does build up Robin's motivations for re-distributing wealth and develops interesting characters while setting the stage for Robin's future exploits.
Perhaps the easiest way for me to get over this is thinking of it as more of a medieval war movie than a Robin Hood movie. With this mentality, it's a well-done film, but with some violence that feels over-the-top and unneeded and may have gone on just a little too long. But honestly, I think this film doesn't get enough credit -you just have to get past the Robin Hood stereotype and be open to a different idea of the legend.
on May 17, 2010
This was a good prequel and action movie. I was left wanting to see a Robin Hood movie at the end though. I think they should have stuck with the original title of the film "Nottingham" or even "Robin of Locksley" then made a sequel called Robin Hood. Some people probably complained about how Robin was a commoner in this film and not the aristocrat that everyone knows him as, but he was actually a commoner in the earliest versions of the story. I hope they release a directors cut like Kingdom of Heaven that made the theatrical version of the film look like crap and a sequel film with Crow actually being Robin Hood.
on September 20, 2010
First of all, this interpretation of the Robin Hood story is probably the most realistic one ever done as well as one of the best acted. No "wink wink nod nod" scenes, no shrill "didn't we tape your mouth shut in the Abyss" Maid Marion and no Americanized English for Robin. This was Robin Hood for "grown ups" and unabashedly so. Ridley Scott deserves praise for this movie.
As to the reviewers who rated the movie much lower than I'd have imagined it deserved, I understand that everyone has an opinion and art is in the eye of the beholder. However, I am shocked that some of the comments are so vile concerning the screenplay and the actors. If you came into this expecting "Gladiator," or you wanted graphic sex scenes or were hoping that you'd understand the story more because you're used to the Kevin Costner or Errol Flynn "Robin Hood," then I understand your low ratings. This movie was an attempt to combine the history of the times (with some liberal skewing between the centuries in some cases) with quality acting (understated in some cases but always top notch) and pacing that fit the story vs. the ADHD that audiences tend to have these days, victims of CGI and MTV styled battles.
If you like good storytelling, you will enjoy Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood." If you don't, that's ok - Amazon has all of the prior "Robin Hood" stories in both regular and Blue-Ray DVD, VHS and of course you can read the print versions as well.
on May 24, 2010
This version of Robin Hood is all that a film should be; entertaining, gripping, spectacular, well acted, memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed this Robin Hood, though I went to the cinema expecting to watch another version of the familiar tale. I was pleasantly surprised by this interpretation of historical events which veer from the legend and take a more realistic approach as to what may have occurred.
Robin is not the young, robust warrior but a mature seasoned fighter who is forced by circumstances to take on the identity of Robert of Loxley who has been ambushed and killed by the traitor Godfrey, who is plotting against the English King. Robin reaches the scene of ambush in time to chase the traitor off, but not in time to save Loxley, who begs him to return his sword to his aged father in Nottingham.
Once he arrives in Nottingham he faces the plight of the people who are impoverished due to the insupportable levies imposed by the king. Their fate is further encumbered by the lack of younger men able to work in the fields, as they have all gone to war with king Richard the Lionheart. Now King Richard is dead and his younger brother has succeeded him to the throne. This vain man trusts the traitor Godfrey as his advisor but Godfrey is actually plotting against him. His violent and bloodthirsty methods of extracting taxes turn the nobles to revolt against their king. In the meantime, Godfrey conspires with the Frech king to invade England which is in the throes of a civil war. This is the turbulent political situation Robin faces as he arrives in Nottingham. Sir Loxley, Robert's aged father, begs Robin to remain in Nottingham as his son as there is no one to defend his keep. His daughter in law, Marion (who is neither young nor a maid) is in need of protection now that her husband is dead. Robin accepts and brings joy and prosperity back to a stuggling estate. However, Godfrey who had killed Loxley, wants Robin dead and his thugs are spreading terror and destruction to everyone who puts up any resistance.
It's all there. The great actors, (Crowe, Blanchett, von Sydow), the impressive war scenes, the realistic depiction of an era, the evil heroes hatching plots and the greater than life heroes with mettle fighting to death to defend all that humans hold dear. A truly fascinating film which never lags and it is with relief and anticipation that we realize at the end that a sequel will follow as this film is a prelude as to why Robin became an outlaw. I am looking forward to part ii.
on December 9, 2011
If you do a little research, you'll discover that the original screenplay for this movie was called "Nottingham." It was superbly unique and followed the sheriff as the protagonist (instead of Robin Hood) with tons of period research, original direction, and excellent storytelling. In fact, the script was so good that everyone wanted it!
The bad news was that Ridley Scott got it. Now, Ridley Scott is a terrific director but he makes big mistakes (see also the theatrical versions of "Blade Runner" and "Kingdom of Heaven", which aren't a tenth as good as the revamps). What did Scott do? He erased everything original from the script and made it just another bland rehashing of the same ol' Robin Hood.
This movie is completely flat and the scene of Marian in armor, charging into battle, is so laughably absurd that I have to believe someone held a gun to Scott's head and forced him to include it. Scott's desperate attempts to make medieval characters act with 21st century ideals is all the more ridiculous because there's virtually no character development in this film--and I'm speaking of both the theatrical and the unrated versions, which really aren't all that different.
If you're expecting a totally different, much better movie here (like you got with the director's cut of "Kingdom of Heaven"), prepare to be disappointed. This movie is derivative, unoriginal, and offensively stupid. I feel very sorry for the writer of the original screenplay!
I like many aspects of this refreshingly earthy gritty variant of the various Robin Hood sagas. The motion and emotion are entrancing -- with some good humor to balance the many grim era-settings -- such as the Norman French "landing-craft" coming FROM Normandy for the last battle -- much like the ones that went TO there more recently [WW II]. The settings are very historically realistic Norman Medieval [including Celtic and Saxon aspects]. Being a longtime fan of the Middle Ages -- I am very pleasantly surprised at the many spot-on correct details. For example -- the realistic swords -- and swordplay with "foul" close-combat moves such as pommel-slams, head-butts, heel-trips and grappling -- much as in the Fectbuchs ["fight-books"] originating from Medieval experience. Then there's the pick-axes and bill-hooks used by calvary to remove footmen and vice versa. The staves, spears and lances drive home their points accurately. The longbows depicted are not fancy-fantasy ones -- but in their stark yew-wood reality. "Robin Longstride" [Russel Crowe] spent months learning about Robin Hood and his Norman Medieval setting -- and gained true skill with the longbow by-the-way. The siege equipment on both sides is quite real -- such as missle-weapons, shield-walls, hook-ladders, drop-stones, boil-pots and fire-bags. The other artifacts and usages such as tools, plows, and winches are spot-on. The castles and other dwellings are great in their lush greenwood settings. The production goes well into historical food, drink, manners and customs in those settings -- like the ring-dancing of Robin and Marion. The churches, castles, chapels, manors, houses and lands are incredibly historical -- as well as are the customs of the folks who live in these settings -- such as "Lady Marion" [Cate Blanchett] -- who gives a splendidly spirited presentation of the [eventual] partner of "Robin Longstride" -- these two leading a great number of excellent actors and acts to initiate the viewer into a graphic medieval expanded saga of Robin Longstride Hood. Great that this movie is on DVD +++