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Robin Hood
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris

Robin Hood
Principal Cast
Russell Crowe -- Robin Longstride
Cate Blanchett -- Marion Loxley
Max von Sydow -- Sir Walter Loxley
William Hurt -- William Marshal
Mark Strong -- Godfrey
Oscar Isaac -- Prince John
Danny Huston -- King Richard The Lionheart
Eileen Atkins -- Eleanor of Aquitaine
Mark Addy -- Friar Tuck
Matthew Macfadyen -- Sheriff of Nottingham
Kevin Durand -- Little John
Scott Grimes -- Will Scarlet
Alan Doyle -- Allan A'Dayle
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Klaw

Everyone knows the legend of Robin Hood. Emerging from the depths of Sherwood Forest, Robin and his band of merry men steal from the rich of Nottingham and give to the poor. His tales of cleverness and daring-do feature archery and swordplay, competition and romance define the very essence of exciting adventure. Too bad no one bothered to remind the makers of the lackluster Robin Hood of these necessary elements.

Originally conceived as Nottingham, the initial script centered around the heroic Sheriff of Nottingham starring Russell Crowe in his fifth collaboration with director Ridley Scott. Scott's dissatisfaction with the story led to the remolding of a potentially intriguing, post-modern interpretation into a more traditional Robin Hood tale.

In Robin Hood, Crowe dons the cowl, and the always extraordinary Cate Blanchett shines as Marion. In a rare turn as a good guy, Max Von Sydow expertly portrays the elderly Sir Walter Loxley. Mark Addy's stellar Friar Tuck performance electrifies the screen. As the venerable Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eileen Atkins delivers some of the movie's most memorable lines while dominating every scene in which she appears. The ham-fisted portrayals by Mark Strong (the villainous Godfrey) and Matthew Macfadyen (the bumbling Sheriff of Nottingham) offer the movie's only weak performances. Sadly, these assets are wasted.

After inexplicably opening with, in terms of character and plot development, a non-essential scene of Marion defending the Loxley estate from poachers, the film quickly shifts British history info dump, which seems odd in retrospect since the story itself plays fast and loose with historical accuracy. The text concludes by reminding the viewers that sometimes good men must become outlaws, and Robin Hood was one of those men -- as if anyone seeing a Robin Hood film missed that part of the legend!

Then, in what should have been the picture's proper opening, the forces of Richard the Lionhearted, on their way back from the Crusades, lay siege to a French castle. This sequence, the only worthwhile epic battle scene in the entire movie, introduces archer Robin Longstride and his compatriots, who later comprise his merry men.

Through a series of improbable events, Robin assumes the identity of the deceased Sir Robin Loxley and his 5,000 acres in Nottingham, while serving as temporary companion to Loxley's widow, Marion. During these moments, Robin Hood unveils its most egregious factual faux pas by drawing a spurious link between a seminal document in British constitutional history and Robin's Longstride ancestry. Further eroding the film's credibility, both the Normans and Saxons use anachronistic long ships to transport troops over the English Channel. These 20th century style carriers employ a rear swivel technology, unknown in the Middle Ages, to unload men and munitions for beach assaults.

Except for one excellent Sherwood Forest scene, the lavish fight scenes with their large vistas, flashing swords, and large cast, have more in common with Arthurian sagas than traditional Robin Hood adventures. The characters often illogical behavior prevented the enjoyment of the battles themselves. After launching two volleys of arrows from cliffs atop an improbable beach encounter, archers, rather than continuing to fire, drop their longbows, the most deadly weapon of the period, and race to join the fracas below. Upon routing an enemy, soldiers stop to mourn the dead, complete with a funeral, which of course allows the enemy commander to flee. While for the most part, I applaud the feminist re-interpretation of Marion, her unlikely actions during the film's finale strain the bounds of believability beyond acceptable limits.

Robin Hood fails as even a summertime diversion. Your time would better spent savoring Errol Flynn's 1938 swashbuckling classic The Adventures of Robin Hood, after seventy years still the definitive and most enjoyable incarnation.

Copyright © 2010 Rick Klaw

Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including The Austin Chronicle, The San Antonio Current, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews, and other things Klaw, Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century. He can often be found pontificating on Twitter and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.

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