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

Action & Adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott

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Robin Hood shoots straight, but just misses the bullseye...

  • May 12, 2010
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 lazy description is actually wide of the mark. Anyone going to see Robin Hood expecting a re-run of that film will probably be disappointed. Yes, there are similarities, most obviously the re-teaming of director Ridley Scott, and star Russell Crowe, but if comparisons have to be made, it should be to Scott's more recent historical epic, Kingdom of Heaven.

I have to say, it was refreshing to see a blockbuster movie that doesn't treat its audience like idiots with low attention spans. At a time when theaters are usually full of movies that pummel you with extravagant CGI, machine gun edits, loud music, product placement and things flying at you in 3D, it's nice to watch a summer release movie that has none of those things. It doesn't play too long either, so you won't find yourself looking at your watch or thinking about nipping out to the toilet.

I really enjoyed the new back-story given to Robin in this film. It lends the character far more depth and weight than other screen incarnations have had. Gone are the green tights, merry men, arrow tricks, hiding in the woods and robbing from the rich. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham is sidelined. Cleverly, elements of the more conventional Robin Hood trappings, and allusions to things to come, are woven into the story, but they are never blatant.
Save for the occasional piece of clunky or unnecessary dialogue, the script is very sharply written. Rumour has it, Tom Stoppard was bought on board to do some script doctoring and rewrites while the film was in production. It shows. Some of the dialogue, particularly in scenes involving King John, is superb. The love story between Robin and Marion is nicely (and believably) handled too.

As you would expect from a Ridley Scott film, Robin Hood is visually impressive. The Scott A-team of Cinematographer John Mathieson, Production Designer Arthur Max, and Editor Pietro Scalia do their usual high standard of work. Scott's obsessive attention to detail is, once again, evident. Everything feels lived in, worn and dirty. The locations, thanks to some subtle and highly effective CGI, look true to the period. Even the actors wear little to no make-up, which adds to the authenticity. The costume design is great too - expect this one to be a contender come Oscar season.
While I'm on the subject of visuals, I must recommend that you hang around for the end credits of the movie, which are very nicely done.

The score, by Marc Streitenfeld, is effective, if sometimes a bit pedestrian, and there is nice use of folk songs in some scenes.
Sound effects are well used. The clink and clatter of armour and the whistle of flying arrows really helps to immerse you in the action.

The cast, for the most part, are all superb. There are actually too many good performances to mention in this film. Cate Blanchett plays Marion with real strength and dignity. Mark Strong is suitably odious as the traitorous Sir Godfrey. Max Von Sydow delivers his usual brilliance as Sir Walter Loxley. William Hurt, who I didn't even realise was in the film until I saw it, is great as the honourable William Marshal.
Special praise, though, has to go to Oscar Isaac. He steals the entire film as the devious, dishonourable, and petulant Prince/King John. His performance is superbly slimey.
It's a pity Matthew MacFayden only gets a few minutes screen time as The Sheriff of Nottingham. On this evidence, he could deliver a performance that matches that of Alan Rickman's in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Fingers crossed for a sequel.

I feel the film's major weakness, somewhat surprisingly, is Crowe's performance. Although he is good, I feel he plays Robin a little to sternly, only occasionally giving us a flash of the humour and adventurous spirit the character needs. I also had major problems with his accent. While I applaud Crowe for trying a regional English accent (which is more than could be said for Kevin Costner), he can't seem to make his mind up where he's from. Sometimes he sounds like he's from the North East, sometimes the North West, sometimes the South, and sometimes even Scottish! More time needed with the dialect coach, methinks.

This is an enjoyable, refreshing, interesting and more mature take on the Robin Hood story. There is much to admire here, but I can't help feeling that something was missing. It never quite adds up to the sum of its parts, which is a shame. The result is a solid, rather than exceptional, movie that cries out for more humour and spark. It does leave you wanting more though, so I have high hopes for a sequel.

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May 14, 2010
I skimmed through your review because I will be seeing this tomorrow and I am trying to have no expectations for it. I did however read your opening and closing paragraphs thoroughly and I can tell this movie may indeed be for me. I'll be back to read the rest of your review and comment further once I've seen it. I do see that you have written an in-depth review and would love to compare notes with you as with the other members.

Thank you for joining our little movie community and for adding this to our topics! We are happy to have you! Your review will be spotlighted in this weekend's community updates. We are a community of movie lovers and we just love to share! Welcome!
May 14, 2010
Thanks for the warm welcome to the community, Woopak! I'll be interested to hear you views on the movie when you've seen it. :)
May 13, 2010
Oh, by the way, I don't know if you've seen @woopak_the_thrill's movie community, but you should totally follow it and add this review there!  It'd be in good company and be targeted to the right people ;)
May 13, 2010
Thanks for the heads up, Devora. I'll be sure to check it out. :)
May 14, 2010
Thanks, Devora. i featured it in the community :)
May 13, 2010
Whoa, there's a 2010 Robin Hood movie?  Cool that you were able to see it before the release date!  Not sure if anything will ever compare to Men in Tights though... ;P  But I'm still curious to see the more serious take on it.  Thanks for sharing!
May 13, 2010
Sorry, Devora, there aren't a pair of tights to be seen in this version. :) Maybe they could've worked them in and kept the realistic approach though. Robin would be constantly complaining that he's laddered them and getting Marian to come to his aid with a needle and thread. :P
May 13, 2010
Nary a pair of tights? I'm not sure if this is worth watching then! ;P (though I'm really curious about Russell Crowe as Robin Hood!)
May 13, 2010
Cheers, Snootch! :)
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 . November 21, 2010
Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' is an action-filled masterpiece, but it's an achievement lacking in the heart of "merry men,' and the spirit of Robin Hood. Every shot is expertly framed, a stunning sight kept up for over two hours. The fight and chase scenes are nearly flawlessly shot and choreographed, but the story gets lost in too much action without the color and fervor of characterization to back it up. Cate Blanchett and Max Von Sydow's sunset performance frame what is lacking: Mostly the film …
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 . March 15, 2011
I have always loved the story of Robin Hood.  As a little kid Disney's Robin Hood was one of my favorite movies, and since then, it has been added to my wide array of films that have become staples in my film collection.  Robin Hood is one of those characters that seem to captivate young children’s interest and continues to hang on  through adulthood., with classics like the 1938 Errol Flynn The Adventures of Robin Hood, the 1991 Kevin Costner Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves, …
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
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" …
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Simon Lee Tranter ()
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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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Director: Ridley Scott
DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010
Runtime: 156 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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