Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Review: Robin Hood

Year: 2010
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blancett, Mark Strong, Danny Huston, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Oscar Issac,

Much has been said about this radical departure from the classical English tale of Robin Hood. I say bollocks. A true radical change would have been to call it Robin Hoodie. I could see it now as a band of chavs BMX bike around Westminster nicking from Tory MP's to give to single mothers. No offence to our new government and PM of course, I merely like my bizarre idea.

With this said Ridley Scott has gone against the grain with his movie, placing the fictional story of robin hood within an even more "realistic" construct than before. What we get is Robin Hood Begins. A rough and ready origin story, which also (due to the script delays) has come out with a slight topical edge. This Robin Hood isn't so much about robbing to the rich to give to the poor (although he does a little), but trying to spread the idea of liberty and fairness to every man; in a government which has done much to demoralize it's people. It's a nice concept for the man in the hood and it works well.

Starting with a weary Maid Marian (Blanchett) doing her best to drive away the youth. The younglings have become mini outlaws themselves, due to their fathers being away due to Richard the Lionheart's crusade. Scott sets this film up almost like a medieval broken Britain. We have a broken Britain with misguided children due to absent fathers, a broke country and spirit broken due to war (I bet someone is shouting Labour somewhere). Much like Gladiator, this beginning does have a feeling of familiarity, particularity in the films first battle: a storming of a french castle. The words and players may be a different but the message is the same; the nation is at a pivotal point and correct guidance is needed. To ask if it does would be a huge spoiler so lets get on with how I felt about it eh?

Well this is all solid stuff. It does feel like Scott's previous historical works, but this isn't a bad thing. It's been ten years since his Roman endeavor and this feels like a well thought out hundred plus year progression. The battles are brutal (not gory however) and the narrative while at first feels a little unwieldy slowly knits itself into something quite compelling. The film is also quite witty with many of the characters having some surprisingly sharp moments of humor. The patriotic and political subtext may arouse some interesting after film talk with the film (which to me has a quite conservative view on things) coming out a day after the reign of Cameron begins.

Performance wise, the film is yet again quite dependable; with Russell Crowe bringing down to earth humbleness and roughish charm to the role of Robin. Cate Blancett gives Maid Marion a well rounded feel but doesn't set any scene alight, while Mark Strong once again put in yet another imposing villain performance. Oscar Issac has some choice moments as Prince John however William Hurt doesn't appear to be too bothered about the proceedings. Nice casting touches also appear in the forms of Danny Huston as Richard and Max Von Sydow as Marion's father. Mark Addy and Matthew Macfadyen also provide amusement alongside the three merry men of Alan Doyle, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes.

Coming off the back of the brighter more youth friendly Iron Man 2, Robin Hood provides a healthy alternative. You do feel the length of the movie a little and you can be sure that Scott will most probably bring out a directors cut filled with more back story. But while it's not your Granddads Robin Hood, it is however; an entertaining, more adult blockbuster than usual.