Sunday, May 23, 2010

Should've been called Robbing Hood...

...because both my time and money were robbed by Ridley Scott’s woeful representation of a classic legend.

The idea was sound: create a Robin Hood story that centred less on the legendary feats of the world's most famous archer and remould it using a more genuine historical basis. Of course, the obvious trap here is that if one removes the implausibility and mysticism from such a legend and yet still craft an entertaining story - one has to inject the tale with enough substance to make up for the loss of entertainment. Guess which part was missed in this project...

Scott was successful in setting his Robin Hood is a grittily realistic setting alright, everyone in the film was dirty and in rags, even the royalty were not as splendorously dressed as in most such depictions. All the wealth of the country had been drained by King Richard’s horrendously expensive crusade and there was little distinction between the once wealthy landowners and a common beggar. Needless to say this is a woefully depressing and pessimistic setting and of course the last thing the people need is a newly crowned King John who sends out the tyrannical Sir Godfrey as a medieval tax-collector or in many cases - life-collector. This undesirable situation is made worse by the fact that everyone’s favourite impotent troublemakers, the french, seek to invade England after weakening the state’s position by turning the Northern landowners against the King.

It’s at this point you’d assume that in true Hollywood blockbuster fashion Robin Hood would emerge to save the day and Scott would recrown Russel Crowe as an action-hero of this decade as he did in 2000. Well, Robin does succeed in thwarting the nefarious plans of Sir Godfrey and routes the Frogs from Dover coming ashore in wooden landing craft in a sort of medieval D-Day landing; but helping his army are his elite troops - war-orphaned children on Shetland ponies [I’m seriously not making this up]. Obviously that’s nothing like what Robin Hood is famous for and it’s not until the last 10 minutes does actually do something worthy of the character. This Robin doesn’t do any relieving the rich of their worldly possessions and using them to improve the economic situation of the poor, other than to plant grain stolen from the local church. When he does claim the belongings of a few dead nights – he was only robbing them from the knights’ assassins and it’s implied he keeps all the loot for himself and his perpetually intoxicated “merry” men.

One of the main reasons this fails is Crowe himself, complete with a bizarrely muddled accent - seriously, it takes real talent to speak with American, Australian and Irish accents in the same sentence. The man is far too old to be playing the titular hero at this point, which is supposed to be an origin story and we’re yet supposed to be treated to his true exploits! This is a middle-aged Robin Hood who meets a tragically frumpy old-Maid Marian played by an even more unforgivably older Cate Blanchett. The complete lack of chemistry between them does a monumental disservice to one of the most epic romances of legend. Danny Huston and William Hurt phone in their equally lacklustre performances and is heart-breaking too see poor Max Von Sydow acting like he had been kidnapped from the elderly actors retirement home and was being forced to perform against his will or he won’t get his supper. In fact out of such an overall dull cloud of a cast only the always splendid Mark Strong as Godfrey shone through like the sun itself with Scott Grimes' Will Scarlett showing some effort.

It’s obvious by the movie’s end that Scott has left it open-ended for a sequel to address these shortcomings. The idea of a sequel to this fills me with dread as both Crowe and Blanchett will be even older. Even if he gets a younger cast; in order to get to what potentially could be a more exciting chapter concerning a more recognisable Robin, one would have to painfully wade through this exceptionally bland origin drivel.

Final Verdict: Ridly Scott has crafted many movies of note, but this will not be regarded as one. Had this been about a medieval hero of his own invention it may have been worthy of something but as a Robin Hood story it can only be detested and ridiculed for such weak performances and a hopelessly disjointed plot flimsily connected to the legend. Some sporadically well crafted action scenes are present but are too tame to be enjoyed fully. Realistic to a point [not enough blood] but devoid of the expected action, adventure and sheer fun that made the legend of Robin Hood so enduring. Watch it if you simply have to or if forced but if you’re master of your own destiny – avoid.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *


Bruce Russell said...

"it takes real talent to speak with American, Australian and Irish accents in the same sentence."

I guess I have real talent, then. :)

Pints said...

And the balance in the universe is restored after Ironman2 receiving such a glowing review. :-)

Civilian Overseer said...

My Dear Colonel, you are missing the point. This was obviously a daring experiment in audience participation, immersing the viewer in the entirety of the 3D experience. You went to see a film about wealth redistribution from the Wealthy to the Poor and were robbed of the price of your ticket. I can understand your delicate Republican tendencies being upset by this theme. ;)

However I must point out that, in this case, what really happened was that the wealth was redistributed from the Poor (You) to the Rich, Sir Ridley Scott. ;)

You have been schooled. ;)

BTW, Our I.T. department's new Internet Policy blocks the Bunker. I blame Connie's racy posts.

Pints, as always, insightful.

Bruce, I find a few beers and a life time of watching TV allows me to achieve the same result. ;)