Once again we see Ridley Scott collaborating with Russell Crowe (for the fifth time in fact). This reboot of the age old Robin Hood story really tries to bring the hardships of war in 1199 to the screen. Gone are the bright colours and striking scenes of Gladiator, replaced with dark, dimly lit realism. The battle scenes are broad ranging and graphic, with some very good work done by the thousands of extras. It’s a shame this effort doesn’t seem to translate into the main scenes.
This is really the story of the origin of Robin Hood, rather than the story of Robin Hood. Not once do we see the ‘take from the rich; give to the poor’ principle that has existed in every Robin Hood story. Even more so, the titular villain ‘The Sheriff of Nottingham’ is reduced to a few minor comedy cameos. The real stand-out performance is that of Cate Blanchett, who gives some solid depth to Maid Marian.
The biggest problem is that we don’t feel any really emotional link to Crowe’s Robin. Crowe’s character simply stumbles from one coincidence to the next, generally going with the flow of the story, rather than forging the story. This lack of ‘love’ we feel for Robin is made even worse with his ‘merry men’, with Scott Grimes giving us one of the worst Will Scarletts of all time (which given Christian Slater’s in Kevin Costner’s 1991 version is really something).
Even with it’s flaws, it’s quite an easy watch, with some funny episodes (although if I’m honest I’m not sure they were meant to be funny). But, just as the film comes to a close the last beach invasion scene really destroys any positive feelings for the film, seeing 20 kids on donkeys attempting the fight off the French army is almost the worst 5mins of film I’ve ever witnessed. At the end of the day this film seems to have fallen into the trap of being a prequel to an expected sequel, which in my view will never and should never happen.