Posts Tagged ‘Mark Strong’

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
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