Archive for May, 2010

Review: Robin Hood

13 May, 2010
Tackling the story of Robin Hood was always going to be a challenge for director Ridley Scott. The much loved tale of Nottingham’s most infamous resident was always at risk of upsetting fans of the legend, and taking on the fable by way of the ‘untold story’ has proved a mixed success for the famous talent.
The new film tells the story of how Robin – referred to here as Robin Longstride – initially ended up in the 13th century town of Nottingham after fighting alongside King Richard in France on the army’s return from the crusades.
Following the King’s death Robin (Russel Crowe) finds himself fleeing the shambolic army, taking on the identity of a dead knight, Robert Loxley, to get home to England under the pretence of returning the former king’s crown.
But having granting the knight’s dying wish to return his sword to his father in Nottingham, Robin finds himself embroiled in a fight to fend off the French army and reunite the nobles of the north – who are suffering from the heavy taxation and ineffective rule of the newly crowned king John.
It is difficult not to draw comparisons between this new Robin Hood and the director/actor team’s previous partnership on historical epic Gladiator. And it has to be said that the new film pales in comparison to their earlier efforts.
Director Ridley Scott does a good job of directing the film throughout, with slick, snappy editing and a firm display of his ability to direct with the best of them.
There are moments, however, where the action is all too familiar – a scene where Crowe rides his horse behind a row of archers and is thrown a weapon mid stride is almost identical to a like-for-like sequence in Gladiator, and Crowe’s Maximus-a-like gruff voice seems to be used more often than not to camouflage his wandering accent than to enhance it.
The battle scenes throughout the film also feel fairly boring and empty and fans of the director’s previous films will be disappointed not to see the relentless, all-out action of Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven.
The scale and excitement seems to have taken a back seat, perhaps in order to preserve the family-friendly 12A certificate, but the overall impression is that of watching a poor man’s version of a familiar blockbuster template.
The decision to take the story back to it’s origins was clearly a clever move, not only does it follow in the footsteps of hit prequel story films Batman Begins and Casino Royale, but it also gives the film a good chance to stand out from the age old story – and avoid any risks of Men in Tights parallels.
And although the back history to how this legend came about is interesting, the seemingly simple narrative does end up becoming tiresome and a little unbelievable at times, particularly the obscure flashbacks to Robin’s inexplicably absent childhood memories which conveniently make him the perfect candidate to unite the country’s noblemen.
The choice to make Robin a Yorkshire man with the home town of Barnsdale will also be sure to aggrieve some more patriotic Nottinghamshire viewers looking to celebrate the heritage of their home county.
With filming taking place only partly in Robin’s Sherwood Forest home, Crowe has taken it upon himself to contribute the majority of the wood to the film with a dull portrayal of what is clearly a far more interesting Character.For a role so close to ones he has excelled in previously it is hard to understand why there is such a lack of enthusiasm and passion here.
Elsewhere Cate Blanchett puts in a solid turn as the begrudged but empowered Marion Loxley, while British actor Mark Strong does a good job of appearing brooding and sinister despite his lack of dialogue.
The real star of the film however is Oscar Isaac as the naive and arrogant Prince John, toying with the character’s vulgar confidence as he turns from disgruntled prince to ardent but completely inept king. Every second of screen time seems to be made entirely his own and it is hard not be captivated by his ‘bad guy you love to hate’ performance, opting for his sleazy king above the slightly overlooked Sheriff of Nottingham.
Ridley Scott’s latest take on Robin Hood clearly showed ambition, and outlined what could have been a fantastic film and the first of this summer’s true blockbusters.
Unfortunately although the film clearly has its merits the end result is something which does no justice to Scott as a director, Crowe as a leading man, or the legend of Robin Hood.
2/5

The Immaculate Inception

10 May, 2010

Following last week’s news of J J Abrams’ latest hype-fest, Super 8, sneaking its way onto screens Brit director Christopher Nolan is hot on his heels with a new trailer for Inception. The third trailer shows a little bit more of what to expect from Nolan’s upcoming, super-secret, super-complex thriller. With cast and crew still tight-lipped about the film, despite the upcoming July release, it’s probably best to make the most of this video and start throwing wild theories about what is going on across the internet in the hope that you might just land on something eventually. Despite the confusion though, this looks absolutely stunning and comparisons are already being drawn to the first Matrix film in relation to the technical accomplishments of Inception. There’s a little bit more on the narrative here as well, with shots of what we can assume is mind thief Leonardo Di Caprio’s wife and a few scenes with Michael Caine looking cool.

Check out the trailer here and, please, if you have any idea what is happening, let me know.

Grab a pen and paper, Abrams is back…

5 May, 2010

Mind melting producer/writer J J Abrams is back – or so it would seem at least. According to HitFlix the trailer for a new project he is currently working on is set to be unleashed in cinemas across America this Thursday.

The project, being called Super 8 by the website, is rumoured to be connected to Abrams’ bizarre monster-mash Cloverfield in some way or another – although exactly how remains characteristicly unclear.

Writers over at Vulture seem convinced from an insider that the trailer shows a group of youngsters making a film on an old Super 8 camera. When they develop the footage however they see an alien in the picture. Rumours are also abound that the trailer will be set in the 70s and is shot as a prequel of sorts to Cloverfield rather than a sequel.

The only thing that seems to be set in stone is that Abrams himself won’t be directing, and is likely to take a producer credit on the project as he did with Cloverfield and Lost.

The trailer is due to be shown alongside screenings of Iron Man 2 and will be unleashed onto the internet shortly afterwards for the world to see.

In other mind-bashing news Warner Bros have released a synopsis for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming future-heist-no-one-has-any-idea-what-the-hell-it’s-about, Inception.

Up until now cast and cre have remained tight lipped about the film, refusing to confirm even the name of the film unless they were 100ft underground, in a sealed plastic room swept for bugs on a second by second basis.

Word from the bosses is thus:

“Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable.

“Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but, it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption.

“One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible — inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime.

“But, no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.”

Cowboys and Indi…. What?

4 May, 2010

In a late entry for the weirdest film news of the day award, word has reached the debris-strewn shores of Chad Cinema that Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau has signed up Moon’s Sam Rockwell to star in his upcoming western-meets-sci-fi-invasion flick, Cowboys and Aliens.

The news comes alongside last week’s release of the superhero sequel and will see Rockwell lining up alongside Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde in the film – which sees Apaches and cowboys uniting forces to fend of an invasion of alien attackers in the wild west, obviously.

Rockwell is set to star as Doc, a saloon owner who gives up flogging the sauce to fend off the otherworldly invaders. Rumour has it that the role was originally written for a heavyset beefcake but Favreau amended the part to suit the actor after they got to know each other on the Iron Man 2 set.

Coming tomorrow: Danny De Vito signs in Jolly Green Giant biopic and News of an Orson Welles screenplay for ‘Robin Hood – Zombie Fighter’