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

Action & Adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott

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"Rise and Rise Again...Until The Lambs Become Lions"

  • May 15, 2010
Rating:
+3

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 “American Gangster“ (who won best actor in the Ridley Scott directed epic “Gladiator”). The film was originally to be called “Nottingham” and was re-written because of Scott’s dissatisfaction, so now the film tells a story about Robin Hood before he became an outlaw; so in many ways this can be seen as a prequel.
 
This film was an official selection in the Cannes film festival.

         Russell Crowe as Robin in "Robin Hood."

               Russell Crowe as Robin and Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley in "Robin Hood."
 
12th century England, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a common archer in King Richard’s third crusade. After spending many years of fighting abroad, Robin and his three other weary companions opts to return to England and as fortune would have it, happens upon an ambush being led by an English knight with French lineage called Godfrey (Mark Strong). They chase Godfrey’s assassins (sent to kill King Richard who had already died in battle) and rather than return to England with nothing, Robin impersonates a knight called Sir Loxley and to deliver the news of the King’s death to his power-hungry brother John (Oscar Isaac). While in England, Robin is taken in by the blind sire of the fallen Sir Loxley (played by Max Von Sydow) and is introduced to his widow Marion (Cate Blanchett). Robin is convinced to keep up the ruse to keep the tax collectors at bay while Godfrey plots with the king of France to inspire political unrest and lay siege on England. Robin with the aid of William Marshal (William Hurt) must unite with the forces of England to drive off the invasion…
 
I guess those who are expecting the familiar tale of Robin and his “Merry Men” are better off looking elsewhere as the script written by Brian Helgeland takes a very different route that has ambition and quite frankly, a little more challenging. I liked this different approach as I have gotten a little weary of all the familiar interpretations of this tale as Robin and his ‘merry men’ take from the rich and give to the poor. Ridley Scott had the right idea in mind because by taking the story to the beginning he has more room to maneuver and solidify Robin’s identity in the mythos of Sherwood Forest. 

          Russell Crowe as Robin in "Robin Hood."

               Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in "Robin Hood."
 
The film does have the familiar characters such as “Little John” (Kevin Durand), the Fiar called “Tuck” (Mark Addy) and the sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfayden). The storytelling is pretty much kept basic as the film goes about revealing the political situation of this period, the effects of war that can trigger more taxation, and the struggles of the common folk. The film has the usual themes of honor, loyalty and duty--as well the King’s duty to his subjects and the subject’s duty to his country. Scott does manage to hit the right spots in the film, but it isn’t irresistibly explosive despite the fact that Ridley Scott injects some rousing energy in the screenplay. I did like the fact that the film invoked a darker, more ambitious tone to the story (personally I am a little tired of the same colorful antics) while taking “Robin Hood” to basic storytelling.
 
Ridley Scott is a maestro when it comes to shooting scenes of raw epic battles given his experience with “Gladiator” and “Kingdom of Heaven”. One wouldn’t be hard-pressed to expect the best battle scenes from this epic maestro and while the battles in “Robin Hood” are indeed better than most movies, it is surprisingly toned down. The film is rated PG-13, (his other films were rated R) so I guess it is safe to say that this film may have an unrated release. The battles were good, as we see the united English fron engage the French forces, but the bloodbaths and their intensity were incredibly toned down from Scott’s past epic films. Scott does reduce the intense atmosphere of war and resorts to a more ‘friendly’ display of clanging swords, ‘whooshing’ arrows, and death. The expression of the horrors of war seemed to have been lost as the scenes of warfare was a little musty but it was still effective because of the performances of its cast and the score by Marc Streitenfeld. Honestly, the film resembles a lot of other war epics with one main difference; the birth of an outlaw called “Robin of the Hood” instead of the glory and rewards brought about by a country’s king. 

       Russell Crowe in "Robin Hood."

               Mark Strong as Godrey, Oscar Isaac as Prince John and William Hurt as William Marshal in "Robin Hood."
 
The performances are real good. Russell Crowe is in very familiar territory as he plays a ’rougher’, more brawny “Robin”. Cate Blanchett was excellent as Marion, although I wasn’t satisfied and was unconvinced of the developing love and chemistry between the two at first until they started to grow on me despite the limited screen time they spent together. I was immediately taken by Blanchett‘s fierce performance and her charisma as she provided the needed balance in the plot. Max Von Sydow was real amusing as the Walter Loxley that he almost stole the show. I loved the fact that Scott played some twists and turns on past familial sins and hardships. I also enjoyed the well-placed bits of humor that developed its faces of characters and managed the screen personality. I also made the film a little more accessible for mainstream audiences. They were funny but not hokey as with the other “Robin Hood” film with Kevin Costner.
 
As much as I enjoyed “Robin Hood”, I cannot say that the film didn't struggle a little to sustain its audience. There were certain scenes that I thought were a little confusing (I am sure that this will have a director’s cut) especially with all the devices being utilized, most especially to those unfamiliar with the legend. It is a minor irritant but it does make the film a little rough around the edges and appear a little unpolished. However, the goals of the film do come across as sincere and honest; it doesn’t cavort like Flynn’s or stagger like Costner’s interpretations. It does hit the spots of romance, heroism, and villainy on a grand display of cool archery with enough energy that is Ridley Scott.
 
Recommended! [3 ½ out of 5 Stars]
 
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May 27, 2010
I'm a little confused here. You say Richard was killed in battle? He wasn't. The whole Robin Hood thing has always been holding down the fort waiting for Richard to come back (which is funny because he actually lived in the Aquitaine) and badgering the Sheriff and John who wanted to be King.
May 27, 2010
The film was a prequel to those stories so I am almost sure that there will be a twist that would resemble the traditional tales in the sequel. Also, I saw an episode in the History Channel about the real ROBIN HOOD that could've inspired this film. It is a good refreshing take IMHO but not for someone who is looking for the old tales of Merry men...hey, it has Russell Crowe whom I remember you saying is one of your faves :)
May 28, 2010
He's looking awfully tired and pudgy these days but, yeah, he's one of my favorites. I just get troubled by movies with gross historical inaccuracies.
 
May 17, 2010
Watch for my take on this film, which shall be titled "When Robin Hood Was Still A Republican..." you know...before the whole "wealth redistribution" thing...
May 17, 2010
LOL! I can hardly wait! Only you can think of something like that for a movie review!
May 17, 2010
Hype it up, coldsteel!
May 17, 2010
I have never been a big fan of the whole steal from the rich approach. Although wealth in Robin Hood's time was acquired through treachery. It was refreshing seeing the film placed squarely into the era in which the events happened with a greater emphasis on the socio-political situation at the time. It was not flat like the normal story that has been rehashed time and again. I also felt it was 3.5 stars...which I will round out to four.
May 17, 2010
That was actually a topic that I was going to create a public policy review about. I was planning to examine Obama in the context of "Robin Hood or Prince John" with the opinion that he is more Prince John than Robin Hood....
May 27, 2010
Oh God.
 
May 16, 2010
I love Ridley Scott, but honestly, I haven't seen a film from him that I liked since "Thelma & Louise". He keeps doing these big epic period films and there just not done well. Far too modern in terms of perspective and ideas and too stylized visually. I'll be skipping this. He needs to go back to sci-fi films. "Alien" and "Blade Runner" were masterpieces!
May 16, 2010
I can't say I disagree with you.( I also liked Matchstick Men Btw.) but I think at this point, epics are where he gets his bread and butter so I understand where he is at. I still see him as a very versatile director. Kingdom of Heaven was alight but when I saw the DC it was awesome! Seen that one? I bet this film has a DC!
May 16, 2010
Did he actually direct "Matchstick Men" or was he just producing? I don't recall. I liked that as well, and in fact it was one of the last good Nic Cage films until "Kick-Ass".
May 16, 2010
Scott directed it I am almost pretty sure. I agree that was Cage's last decent movie before Kick Ass.
May 16, 2010
As for "Kingdom of Heaven", I only saw the theatrical cut, which left me cold. The whole political commentary in there and much of the fighting techniques were so anachronistic I was just annoyed. Plus, weren't there like four different DVDs of that or something(2-disc theatrical cut, 3-disc theatrical cut, 2-disc director's cut, and 4-disc director's cut)?
May 16, 2010
Only one 4-disc director's cut. It was a totally different story from the theatrical release. So powerful and so different! It was chopped to be shorter because of the money men. I bought the Blu-ray for it too--but would you believe the dvd was better?
May 16, 2010
btw, HYPE is having some technical issues--did you drop kudos here and didn't go through? got some complaints that I reported last night...(don't matter if not, but the community keeps on freezing up on my end)
May 16, 2010
Yeah, I gave you your kudos earlier today. I had similar issues recently with not getting notifications.
May 16, 2010
I was trying to read and give kudos to several reviews in the community but it keeps freezing up...I think I'll wait later. Now my comments are freezing up. arrgghh.
 
May 16, 2010
I very much appreciate your review, because I wasn't sure this was one I wanted to spend my money on to see it in the theatre. I already had the impression from the trailers that it wasn't your usual "Robin and his merry men" film, but I guess I wasn't expecting so much of the focus to be on the political as it appears from your review.

Perhaps I will save this one for Netflix.  Thanks again!
May 16, 2010
Thank you for the read. Comments like yours keep me motivated to write more. This was good, but at this point, since it was obvious that it was toned down, I would recommend catching the inevitable unrated-director's cut on dvd. Thanks again!
 
May 16, 2010
Excellent review WP, I am planning on seeing this but not sure when.
May 16, 2010
See it if you're a fan of epics like I am.
 
May 16, 2010
Great writeup brother- I too am surprised to hear it rated only PG-13. Blending that scene with Ridley Scott seems a little water and oilish to me but then there is always hope of an unrated DVD release (which as you know, is how I roll). But honestly, I have to say that this one sounds pretty darn solid. I've been looking forward to it. Thanks for a another solid critique. Word is bond.
May 16, 2010
Thanks, Jay. I lked the movie and it was worth the $ 8 I paid for it but I am sure there will be a better version soon!
 
May 15, 2010
Nice review, Woopak. I totally agree with you about the evident sanitising of the film. I'm sure a directors cut will appear on DVD and Blu-Ray in the not too distant future, and hopefully, like Kingdom of Heaven, it will transform the film into something much more satisfying.
May 15, 2010
Thank you, sir. I enjoyed this one (despite the flaws) but I cannot deny the fact that it seemed like Scott held back a lot in the violence and some of the themes weren't fully developed. Scott is a great director so we can be certain that he was more to this. The DC of Kingdom of Heaven just blew me away!
 
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More Robin Hood reviews
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 . 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 . 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
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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" …
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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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