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Robin Hood (Single-Disc Unrated Director's Cut)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott

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A Merry Man He Isn't

  • May 14, 2010
Rating:
+3
This isn't your grandfather's "Robin Hood," which in this case is neither a compliment nor a criticism. It's just what is. Director Ridley Scott makes no attempt to romanticize the legend, probably because we've seen that take on it so many times before. And why not? The Robin Hood we've heard about makes for a wonderful story - he's handsome, strong, daring, moral, and radically philanthropic, having robbed from the rich to give to the poor. He's the perfect hero, a figure that can inspire desire and idolization even in children. As far as I'm concerned, it makes perfect sense that he's been the star of so many film adaptations. We like heroes, especially when they stand for something that I'm assuming most of us believe in.

We don't really get that from this new Robin Hood, here surnamed Longstride and played competently but not exactly memorably by Scott regular Russell Crowe. While he has very definite ideas about how people should be treated in general, he's not a selfless defender of the people so much as a common soldier, an archer, serving his king. He has been fighting abroad in the Third Crusade for the last ten years, but after Richard the Lionheart dies in battle, he decides that it's time to return to England. Three other soldiers - Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), Allan A'Dayle (Alan Doyle), and the Little John (Kevin Durand) - tag along, perhaps because Scott know that it wouldn't be "Robin Hood" if these characters weren't included. When Robin comes across a dying knight, named Robert Loxley, he solemnly promises to return a sword to his father.

For reasons passing understanding, Robin assumes Loxley's identity upon returning to England, where he must deliver the bad news that the King is dead and see the crown passed on to Richard's younger brother, John (Oscar Isaac), portrayed as an arrogant fool who imposes harsh taxes on his kingdom. His right hand man is the evil Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong), who, because of his heritage, has his own sinister plans for the future of England. What is poor King John to do but make those beneath him suffer, especially when he knows that his kingship was a gift given to him by God?

Robin and his men travel to the village of Nottingham, where the blind elder Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) decides it would be financially beneficial for Robin to continue posing as his dead son. Here enters Loxley's widow, Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett), a strong-willed and cunning woman who will inevitably become Robin's love interest, despite her efforts to resist him. I might have bought into this medieval romance had it not been so obviously constructed. Consider a scene in which Robin is preparing for a bath; when only Marian is around, he calmly tells her that he needs help undoing his chainmail armor. Nothing immediately comes of this, but the implications are none too subtle. And then there's the scene of them sharing the same bedroom; Marian threatens to cut off ... a very sensitive part of Robin's anatomy if he even tries to go near her. Given this confrontational viewpoint, how can she not eventually end up loving him? There's a reason we have phrases like, "Opposites attract."

There's no denying that this movie is well made from a technical standpoint. John Mathison's cinematography and Arthur Max's production designs are astonishing, evoking not an idealized storybook world of feathered caps and merry men but the dark, gritty reality of the Middle Ages, where soldiers were caked with dirt and cottages were infested with rats. There's also an impressive array of visual effects, although I suspect they were diminished by the film's PG-13 rating, especially during the violent battle scenes. Scott has made a name for himself as a visual director, something I've never objected to except when it comes at the expense of great performances and fully developed screenplays. "Robin Hood," while efficiently told, doesn't aspire to be anything more than a great-looking historical epic. It has a lot of style, but when it comes to substance, something is lacking.

Maybe that something is originality. Even with the names and locations associated with "Robin Hood," this movie is fairly generic, offering little that hasn't already been offered in other recent medieval stories. Robin could have gone by Sir Michael and Nottingham could have been called Green Meadows - the effect would have been exactly the same. The only thing it has going for it is the fact that it reinterprets the Robin Hood legend, relying a little more on history than on the excitement of a swashbuckling adventure. I won't say that this is a devastating failure for Ridley Scott, but I will say that he could have done better. Given his reputation for rereleasing his films in expanded and/or alternate cuts ("Blade Runner," "Kingdom of Heaven," "Legend"), perhaps the best version of "Robin Hood" is yet to come. One can only hope.

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More Robin Hood reviews
review by . May 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars:
   I have to admit that I am a fan of Ridley Scott. So when the multi-award winning director of films such as “Alien”, the underrated “Kingdom of Heaven” (the director’s cut is one of the best films I’ve ever seen), and the harrowing war epic “Black Hawk Down” was directing a film based on the legend of “Robin Hood”; of course I was excited. This film is a reunion of sorts for Scott and award-winning actor Russell Crowe after …
review by . May 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Origin stories seem to have been de rigeur in Hollywood in recent years. Putting a fresh spin on an old story is a great way to re-invigorate a franchise and breathe new life into well known characters. So, following movies like Batman Begins, Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes, we now have a new take on Robin Hood, and there's no sign of a mullet or Bryan Adams this time.      Many early reports about this film described it as being "Gladiator with a bow and arrow". That …
review by . July 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I Need a Hero
Had there never been a Braveheart or Gladiator, Robin Hood probably would have been a much better film. Unfortunately for the producers -- and the viewers -- this film tried to live up to its similar epics but fell short.      An old story with a new twist, a prequel of sorts, Robin Hood (portrayed by Russell Crowe) attempts to tell how the legend began. Crowe's character was similar to his role in Gladiator -- a war hero who was betrayed by his country's leaders …
review by . June 02, 2011
This film adds some truth to the ancient legend and turns Robin into a hood (crook)
Rather than basing this version of Robin Hood on any of the ancient legends about this fictional character, the film makers of this excellent, well acted, and dramatic movie base their totally different version in small part upon actual history. Robin is not the fine, nice, gentleman portrayed in the other films, but a low class expert archer who is a crook with a conscious, who accompanies King Richard on his crusade to Palestine and participates somewhat reluctantly in the king's robberies …
review by . May 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Robin Hood: The Prequel
ROBIN HOOD   Written by Brian Helgeland Directed by Ridley Scott Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Max Von Sydow and William Hurt      Godfrey (on Nottingham): I’ll make this place famous.    I’ve seen a number of Robin Hood movies.  Who hasn’t?  I haven’t seen them all and I’m sure some people out there have, but even those people haven’t seen Robin Hood in Ridley Scott’s bluish hue before. …
Quick Tip by . November 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I can't say that I was at all impressed by this film. I've enjoyed a number of Ridley Scott's films in the past, but his current phase of making epic historical action films isn't that appealing. Part of the issue I have here is with the cast. Though all of the actors in the major roles are talented, they all feel terribly miscast. In addition, the film's attempts to take current sociopolitical issues and transplant them into Medieval times creates numerous contradictions and …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Everyone knows the traditional story of Robin Hood. Take from the rich and give to the poor, but the movie done by Ridley Scott starring Russell Crowe is a completely different take on this old English legend. Not only are Scott and Crowe and awesome combination of film making, but I really liked the idea that they gave Robin Hood a whole new spin which was surprising because when I first heard that they were doing another Robin Hood movie, one would think that it has just been way over done. It …
review by . May 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Rise of a legend....
For the last 588 years, a legendary story has been passed from generation to generation about a man, a man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor wit not thought to his own actions. This man  is the most legendary of all folklore heroes in fact the most legendary of all heroes he is  the man who inspire  comic book  like Batman, The Spirit  and most notable of them all   The Green Arrow. This man is called Robin Hood   a fabled hero, a legendary …
review by . September 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      Robin Hood is the pre-story...the story of Robin Hood's journey to his calling.      Fans of epic, war or love stories should end up liking the introductory Robin Hood (and his merry men) as much as I did, though. And I would like to see a sequel with the telling of the classic Robin Hood story and there was a nice set up for that to happen.      Marion and Robin's storyline is sweet and should satisfy women who detest "guy" …
Quick Tip by . November 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
excellent film, kept me entertained through its very loooong run time!
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Cast aside all notions of men in tights: Ridley Scott'sRobin Hoodis decidedly earthier and more grown-up than most romps through Sherwood Forest. The presence of the over-40 Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett cinches the deal, lending a dose of worldliness to a project that means to be about the origins of the famous character, who in this incarnation was evidently a late bloomer. Robin Longstride (that's his name before he started wearing a hood) is just returned from a 10-year jaunt in the Crusades when he loses his king (Danny Huston as Richard the Lionheart) and his job. Back in England, Robin folds himself neatly into a Nottingham family, where a grieving widow named Marion (Blanchett) and her father-in-law (Max von Sydow) hardly care that he doesn't much resemble their own departed warrior. But the merry men and their famous sideline will have to wait: except for one bit of robbing from the rich (i.e., the greedy government of King John) and giving to the poor, this movie is more concerned with creating a portrait of the royal intrigue that went into creating Robin Hood than in detailing the high jinks of the Nottingham outlaws. And that's not a bad thing, because althoughRobin Hoodlacks the mechanical action beats that distinguish most films of its scale, it creates an engrossing story line around its political chess playing (outlined by screenwriter Brian Helgeland and apparently a few others). Crowe is in reliable crusty-tender form and Blanchett ...
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Details

Director: Ridley Scott
DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010
Runtime: 156 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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