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4 stars for Robin Hood

Posted by Daltons chin dimple on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The reviews written by fanboys online were decidedly mixed. The reviews coming out of the Cannes festival are better. The TImes gives it 4 out of 5.
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Errol Flynn meets the Communist Manifesto in this monumental reinvention of the Robin Hood legend that opens the 63rd Cannes Film Festival tonight.

Initially, some heads were scratched when it was announced that this fifth blockbuster collaboration between Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe (see Gladiator, American Gangster) would open an event renowned for art-house provocations. While simultaneously, in industry circles, the question asked was, ‘Do we really need another Robin Hood movie?’ And yet, on both counts Scott and Crowe have delivered a movie that far surpasses expectations, and might ultimately prove to be more politically provocative than most of the product that unspools over the next 13 days.

The first pleasing shock of the movie is that this Robin, though rooted firmly in turn-of-the-12-century drama, is painfully modern. His concerns are our concerns. Opening shots, for instance, reveal a rural Nottinghamshire landscape overrun with feral children who, like medieval hoodies, wantonly plunder the lands of elderly neighbours. Robin is then introduced to us as a Middle East war veteran, an archer returning from a ten-year military crusade in Palestine, and a man haunted by the slaughter of innocent Muslim women and children (“We became godless that night,” he says, remembering his sins).

More importantly, and this is where the film really catches fire, he is returning to a country profoundly shaken by economic ruin and financial mismanagement. Here the duplicitous Prince John (Oscar Isaac, deliciously reptilian) inherits a bankrupt economy from his departed brother King Richard (Danny Huston, in cowardly lion fright wig, and channelling the spirit of Brian Blessed) and is prepared to drive the country to the brink of civil war through his punishing tax plans.

Thus the radical journey of Crowe’s heroic Robin Longstride will involve reconnecting with his birthright (his father was, apparently, a mason and a socialist political philosopher) and waving into battle not a glinting sword, but a document called the “Charter of Rights” which recognises the right of every ‘man’ to “work and live by the sweat of his own brow”.

Of course, it’s not all Karl Marx by candlelight, and Scott and Crowe certainly know how to swash and buckle. This is their most satisfying and spectacular outing since Gladiator, and they positively drench the movie in plot. The most significant of these describes Longstride’s journey to the Nottingham estate of a fallen comrade, Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), where he meets the widowed Marion (Cate Blanchett) and, encouraged by the ancient baron Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow), begins to form the outlaw identity of legend.

In all this, Crowe is typically commanding and physically fearsome (he even gets a buffed-up bathing scene), while Blanchett’s Marion is anything but the passive love object. And if the film dies a little towards the end, with a needless double-climax, it hardly matters. For what’s left is the sense of a genuinely probing film made by artists who have more than cheap thrills on their mind. Cannes should be honoured.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

The Mail gives it 4 stars as well, and Christopher Tookey (their reviewer hates everything!
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The oldsters hit back. Two of the best movies this year have been by directors in their seventies, namely Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island and Roman Polanski's The Ghost, and here comes a third.

At the grand old age of 72, Sir Ridley Scott makes a triumphant return to form with this magnificent epic.

It's an affectionate nod to one of the world's favourite legends, but it isn't content to be just a roistering romp, along the lines of the classic Errol Flynn picture of 1938.

This is quite a serious Robin Hood, and certainly a good deal more faithful to history than the 1991 version starring Kevin Costner, chiefly memorable for Costner's broad American accent, the most hilariously camp Sheriff of Nottingham ever, in the form of Alan Rickman, and Morgan Freeman's use of a telescope about 200 years before it was invented.

But Scott's grounding of the piece in real events and intelligible human behaviour is never over-solemn, and from beginning to end it's a lot of fun.
There are few classier directors than Scott at creating action movies on a truly epic scale.

Robin Hood may not be quite as spectacular as his best costume epic, Gladiator, but it is a constantly inventive, visually sumptuous production that sets up the legend of Robin Hood with a huge amount of cinematic skill.
This is movie-making on a grand scale, but the more than capable script by Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential) means that it never patronises its audience.

It's a cleverly conceived prequel to the legend, and by the end of its two hours 41 minutes, I was more than happy to sign up to see the sequel.

Russell Crowe - back to his action-man best after what must have been a gruelling diet - is Robin Longstride, a battle-hardened, middle-aged archer with King Richard's Crusaders.

He's an honest man with sympathy for the underdog, and he's returning to England after the death of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) in the bloody storming of a French castle, which is the first of many action sequences to be extremely well mounted and shot.

Robin and three pals - Little John (Kevin Durand), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes) and Alan A'Dayle (Alan Doyle) - interrupt a dastardly ambush in northern France of some British knights by a treacherous English noble, Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) who's in league with the French.

Robin agrees to carry the sword of one knight, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) to his elderly father, Sir Walter (Max von Sydow), who has a castle near Nottingham, effectively run by Sir Robert's attractive but proud and spiky widow Marion (Cate Blanchett).

She has problems with thieving orphans living as outlaws in Sherwood Forest, and unwanted amorous attentions from the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen).

The last thing she wants are romantic complications with a smelly, middle-aged crusader - or does she?

While she's making her mind up about that, the weak and weaselly, newly crowned King John (Oscar Isaac) is insolently defying the advice of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins) and being misled by the dastardly, two-faced, bilingual Sir Godfrey into sacking his loyal chancellor (William Hurt).

Sir Godfrey believes King John's feckless tax-and-spend policies, oddly prophetic of certain other regimes in Britain's more recent history, will lead to civil war and make England ripe for conquest by the French king (Jonathan Zaccai) who is planning an invasion across the Channel.

Can Robin win fair Marion and unite all right-thinking Englishmen-to repel the foreign foe? Well, what do you think?

We don't get enough moviemaking on this epic scale, and you'd have to go back to The Lord Of The Rings to find this much attention to detail in its design.

The production credits are all faultless, from John Mathieson's handsome cinematography to Marc Streitenfeld's stirring and atmospheric score.

Ridley Scott and his design team under Arthur Max have created a splendidly authentic 13th century England, and the action scenes are as thrillingly shot and edited as anything in Gladiator, Braveheart or Lord Of The Rings.
The script is bright and literate enough to make us care what happens to the characters. The fine cast respond well. Crowe and Blanchett make an entertainingly mismatched couple of people not in the first flush of youth, and wary of anything so predictable as falling in love. Older viewers may well be reminded of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Mark Addy plays the beekeeping, mead-swilling Friar Tuck as though born, and later fattened, for the role.

Robin Hood ingeniously weaves the true story of Magna Carta into its investigation of one possible source of the legend. Historians will know that it's all tosh, but at least this is entertaining, heart-warming tosh, with a refreshing patriotism and a reasonably sophisticated sense of right and wrong.
This Robin may not care much about the redistribution of wealth, but he does know oppression and injustice when he sees it, and his notion of accountability to the British people would not come amiss in our own age.

This is a cracking good yarn, and you shouldn't miss it. It lifted my spirits in these troubling times, and should do the same for yours.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I assume the first review was a Times review. Am I wrong? Who wrote it?

I assume the second review was written by Christopher Tookey, even though all you say is that Tookey liked it, then follow with an unattributed review. Am I wrong? Who wrote it?

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I guess I could copy and paste a string of words into Google, but I'd rather you just tell me.

Strider
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I'm not sure what to think with this one yet. It has had lackluster trailers with poor music selection similar to the ad campaign for Kingdom of Heaven. KoH turned out to be an awesome movie....once the director's cut came out. I'm not sure that Robin Hood will have the same result though.

Some of the reviews say it's good. Others say it's bad. A couple even called it "boring".

Despite the fact that I tend to enjoy Ridley Scott movies, I just can't seem to get excited for Robin Hood, so I think it's going on the "wait until DVD" chopping block for now.

www.gamingoutsiders.com
Quasar
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Am I the only one who absolutely does not see Russell Crowe as Robin Hood? When he's on screen, all I can think of is RUSSELL CROWE, and what's with the hair? Surely Robin Hood never had a haircut like Russell Crowe. Surely.

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Strider wrote:

A couple even called it "boring".

Robin can be seen yawning on the promotional poster, after all.

Jakester
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

As must as I dig Ridley Scott, I think I'm giving this one a miss in the theatres.

Richard Gozinya, Harold Snatch and Wilbur Jizz. Together we are the law firm Gozinya, Snatch and Jizz.
Quasar
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I declare him to be an OUT-LLLLAWWWW!

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Quasar wrote:

Surely Robin Hood never had a haircut like Russell Crowe. Surely.

Sure he did, but he was sensible enough to wear the hood.

Corporal_Hicks
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Looks fucking terrible. Daredevil was better.

Sent from Dalton's IPad.
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I've got passes to see ROBIN HOOD tonight. I'm gonna stay home. I think that's my review of the film -- nothing about it makes me want to stand in a line with a horde of free pass winners to see this flick.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

So it's greatest enemy is apathy?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Jakester
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

That and not being good enough.

Richard Gozinya, Harold Snatch and Wilbur Jizz. Together we are the law firm Gozinya, Snatch and Jizz.
Corporal_Hicks
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

It looks like Ridley gave it the Wolfgang Peterson "Troy"-treatment: Take a magical, legendary story and remove everything cool about it.

Looks like utter shite.

Sent from Dalton's IPad.
Strider
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Jakester wrote:

That and not being good enough.

I think I'll add the obligatory fortune cookie "in bed" ending to this one.

www.gamingoutsiders.com
Quasar
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

But... but they're telling us things we didn't know about the legend of Robin Hood. How can that ever go wrong?

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
Mal Shot First
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I'd probably still give it a try. Ridley Scott hasn't lost all the credit he's had with me yet.

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I really like Ridley Scott's 1977-1986 output, though I suspect I would dislike Legend if I had seen it for the first time as an adult.

At this point, I'm not sure why I keep coming back to his movies. Well, that's not true. I keep coming back to his movies because they are movies, and movies are something I watch a lot of.

Quasar
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

Now if only Ridley Scott would direct Little Man 2. Of course Russell Crowe will have to be in it. I imagine he'll be a second Little Man, who'll likely be an arch-rival of the Marlon Wayans Little Man. And Crowe will probably have that same haircut.

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

You just described a movie I'd definitely go see.

Jack S. Pharaoh
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

My reaction to the movie seems to be converse to most people here: I started off semi-apathetic about the movie, though I like both Crowe and Scott. Another telling of Robin Hood doesn't really interest me that much, though of course that is just an initial reaction, because any story, no matter how old or unoriginal, can be great. There are movies I've seen over a dozen times that I still go back to. Some, probably over two dozen. The whole "retconning" angle for some of these movies is a bit annoying for some reason though, but that again is marketing and my reaction to marketing. The movie itself often has very little to do with how the movie is presented in trailers/commercials, and I try not to hold that against the movie: advertising is unavoidable, and I can't even always blame movie and TV makers for making what I consider to be sacrifices in quality in order to make a story more appealing to a broad audience. I certainly can't blame the marketers for using retarded cliches and annoying selling points to bring people in. But, anyway, the marketing is what I have to go off of, and I wasn't really into it. The two reviews at the top of this thread do catch my attention, though: I love Sharon Kay Penman's historical novels about 12th and 13th century England, during the reign of the Plantagenets, and from those reviews this movie seems to actually include some good details about the characters of Richard and John and that's definitely enough to get me excited. One of the reviews also mentioned Matthew Macfayden as the sheriff of Nottingham, and I thought he was excellent in the 2005 version of 'Pride and Prejudice' and I would really like to see him in another period piece.

If anyone's interested in Penman's writing about these characters, Google books has some excerpts available. I'll provide a link to what I consider a very entertaining bit, which centers on John and Richard during the last days of Richard's war to take the English crown from their father Henry II. Penman's got a sharp way with character interactions, I think, and I love the electricity of a good confrontation between willful but sympathetic characters. The kerfuffle between John and his half-brother Geoffrey on pages 45-46 is pretty satisfying, to my mind.

http://books.google.com/books?id=QW2dIlffWuEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=her...

Mal Shot First
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

The Swollen Goi... wrote:

I really like Ridley Scott's 1977-1986 output, though I suspect I would dislike Legend if I had seen it for the first time as an adult.At this point, I'm not sure why I keep coming back to his movies. Well, that's not true. I keep coming back to his movies because they are movies, and movies are something I watch a lot of.

I enjoyed Matchstick Men, which is fairly recent.

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

I've still never seen Matchstick Men. It gets high marks from people whose high marks I value, so I've been saving it for a rainy day. I've also never seen the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which is apparently so good that copies of it are said to treat meningitis and save marriages within a two-mile radius. I did see A Good Year, American Gangster, and Body of Lies. I probably liked Body of Lies the best out of that bunch, but all I really remember about it is that Leo and Crowe are both on the phone a lot, and there's shouting.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

And Mark Strong as a Middle Eastern spy. Mark Strong is in even more films than Sam Worthington.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Quasar
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Posted: 10 years 41 weeks ago

The Swollen Goi... wrote:

I've still never seen Matchstick Men. It gets high marks from people whose high marks I value, so I've been saving it for a rainy day. I've also never seen the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which is apparently so good that copies of it are said to treat meningitis and save marriages within a two-mile radius.

< insert comment about Goiter not seeing quality movies and instead watching Little Man for the 50th time >

And I used to have meningitis. I wondered what happened to it.

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline