Robin Hood & Russell Crowe (2010 version)


Robin Hood (2010) theatrical release poster

I feel I may have been a bit quick to judge this film. This is an open appeal to anyone who dismissed it to give it another chance, and get the decent version.

Sure, all the trailers made it look seriously derivative of the 1991 movie version starring Kevin Costner.

Sure, when I first saw it, the film didn’t quite click for me. It seemed to be lacking…explanations.

Then, on rewatching it on blu-ray, with the Director’s Cut instead of the Theatrical version, it suddenly and undeniably became a damn good historical action movie romp, directed by the Ridley Scott – the genius who gave us Alien, my favourite movie.

Ridley Scott has had a lot of hits, and some really have been stronger than others. For every Duellists, Alien, Thelma and Louise or Gladiator there have been a few that didn’t work out, like GI Jane, the original release of Blade Runner, and er, Conquest of Paradise. That said, even Matchstick Men was a very decent little film even though I strongly suspect – going by the documentary – that Mr R Scott was only there for the casting.

But back to Robin Hood. The original release version was duller, and as I said, quite a bit made no sense. From the very start, who were those masked boys running around in the woods? This is fleshed out greatly in the theatrical cut, giving them a purpose and an introduction to Robin and Marion, and when they turn up again during a moment of crisis, we’re not still going ‘why on earth are they there?’ So, that’s the most obvious improvement. I’ve only seen the original cut once, so the Director’s Cut is my default. I highly recommend seeing a copy of this and then deciding if you still think it’s a dry take on the Robin Hood story, or if Ridley Scott has actually managed to come up with a more deeply textured and interesting version of the myth.

Most importantly, in the DIrector’s Cut we get all the jokes put back in. Robin Hood’s men sure get merry, and with lots of booze and floozies, and there’s a better humour all round which lifts the film greatly, humanising the situation.

Wipes the floor with Kevin Costner’s version which is enjoyable for different reasons (cough-Alan Rickman-cough) I think it deserves a better chance. It has several villains, which become more apparent once you can tell the King of France and the bratty Prince John apart. I could, eventually. Lots of layers of evil here, too. Incidentally, is Mark Strong out to play the most villains of any actor, ever? The man is brilliant! I’m always happy to see he’s in a blockbuster, he’s cornered the market that I think Gary Oldman used to play for a bit. Psycho with a brain. And here he’s very, very bald, so you just know he’s evil, and he keeps getting wounded in the face, which just makes him even eviller and more badass. He can pull off a decent French accent as well. The man is versatile.

I also think that Russell Crowe’s accent is in no way the worst ever, he’s not Keanu Reeves for crying out loud. The character has also moved around a lot, so to me it makes sense it alters a bit. But seriously, get over it. It’s a decent enough British-type accent, we aren’t talking Daphne from Frasier here, either. To be fair, though, Cate Blanchett utterly nails a gruff Nottingham brogue. Cate Blanchett is also a great character, as a wise and no-nonsense Maid Marian who performs the classic will-they-won’t-they dance with Robin. I’m very happy that Ridley Scott can still give us excellent, and realistic strong women on the screen. For the makers of every other Hollywood blockbuster out there, ‘strong woman’ does not just mean shoving your leading lady in a pair of suspenders or a PVC catsuit and spiky heels, and handing her massive gun (and Zack Snyder, I’m looking very hard at you right now). A character with actual layers, Maid Marian is the best version of ‘strong woman’ that’s appeared in an action blockbuster since, er…er…

The film even gets away with its signal baiting ending card, when it says ‘And so the legend begins’ as Marian and Robin hide out in the forest, creating their Ewok community. This is followed by some top animation of sequences from the film. I’d really, really love to see a sequel. Anyone? We just want romps we can watch without gridning our popcorn into our gums. Is that too much to ask? I’ve also nearly had enough of origin stories, particularly as they’re about characters we know extremely well. Batman doesn’t need a reboot, it need to be about Batman. So, I sincerely hope we get that from the next Sherlock Holmes movie, over Christmas 2011.

Anyway, having seen how solidly Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood turned out, I am dying for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus to get released. The little peeks I’ve seen so far suggest that the smooth grunge of the original Alien returns. Massive sets ahoy!  The plot is intriguing, from the bits of it I’ve heard about, and they really aren’t billing it as a straight ‘prequel’. This is not the time to rant about prequels, but, they suck. Generally. Almost always. See The Thing remake/prequel and everything George Lucas has done since 1999. Same universe is fine, but a sequel that sucks the magic from the original story is just plain sad.

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