Friday, June 18, 2010

The BC Review: Robin Hood

I’ve been waiting to write this review foolishly entertaining the idea that I would sit down and watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (the rival Kevin Costner version) in it’s entirely and then compose a comparison of the two. Unfortunately, as no less than a full month has gone by and it is likely I may never find time to screen it. Therefore, I’m forgoing the original idea and replacing it with this; a standard review of the Ridley Scott version.

In Ridley Scott’s 2010 version of the legendary tale of the true “Prince of Thieves” we are introduced to Robin Longstride, fighting along King Richard the Lionheart (a term used rather loosely in this depiction) in a series of battles; slowly, but steadily plundering his way back home from the Crusades. Robin Longstride, as he was known prior to his days of merriment, is a worse-for-wear archer who takes his leave after the fall of the King.

Along with some notable friends, to include “Little” John, Robin makes his way to Nottingham wherein he meets Marion, albeit a somewhat less-than-we-are-used-to-seeing-her, glamorous version. In Scott’s rendering, Maid Marion is not a maid at all but rather a matron as she has married some ten years prior (and unbeknown to her, subsequently widowed).

In terms of story, this version veers only slightly from the story we all know, giving us a bit of a prequel to the legend. To his credit, Scott succeeds in giving us some minor surprises, i.e. throwing the French and some nefarious insiders into the mix, but in the end, leaves much to be desired. Although this is not entirely unexpected, it seems Scott took the safe route; deciding against giving us a completely new interpretation and instead providing a litany of action scenes. Of course, as this is a Scott film, the action scenes are as expected; fast-paced, gritty, and always bloody.

Scott’s use of dialogue also leaves much to be desired (Shakespeare, this is not!). But, perhaps in a nod to critics (and a gift to the audience?), Scott fortunately keeps the dramatic love scenes to a minimum.

The presumed (and well-marketed) star, Russell Crowe plays Robin as we would expect; an unrelenting warrior full of vengeance, yet, also a man of heart.

Cate Blanchett, though not originally cast for this role, provides a decent interpretation of Marion. By all accounts Blanchett is one of the few remaining Hollywood actresses not afraid to “let her hair down” as they say, and show a less-than-perfectly-manicured-and-done-up-heroine. She never fails to bring a certain reality to the big screen and usually succeeds in attributing to my ability to suspend my disbelief (check her out as the incomparable Katharine Heburn alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator).

Blanchett’s talents aside, the best characters fall a bit farther down on the cast of characters list. Two favorites include Little John (played by Kevin Durand, previously seen in Wild Hogs) and Friar Tuck (played by Mark Addy of the television sitcom, Still Standing). These two, though not given a whole lot of on-screen time, give the audience excellent portrayals of inherently comedic characters.

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood comes recommended for Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe fans. For those seeking a really creative interpretation of the legend, we suggest adding Robin Hood: Men in Tights to your Netflix queue! Additionally, as the film is billed as a prequel, the ending leaves us primed for at least one more (if not, several) follow-on features.

The Bee Charmer Review Rating: C