Thursday, June 3, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)


After the death of King Richard, and the rise of his brother John (Oscar Isaac), high minded archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) assumes the identity of fallen knight Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) in order to aid struggling wife Marrion (Cate Blanchett) and blind father Walter (Max von Sydow).

"Rise, and rise again. Until lambs become lions."

There are really two types of great films. Those that begin great, and never falter. And then there are those which are good, but find a moment to rise up, and achieve greatness. Scott's 2010 Robin Hood venture is a good film, desperately in search of its great moment.

For perhaps the most spectacular thing about Robin Hood is how unspectacular it really is. A collection of good ideas, and well thought out scenes that never reach out. Riding by on entertainment value, but never pulling the emotional chords. Never griping the viewer, asking them to want for more. It's a movie that gets by on the talent involved, but feels so disconnected from itself it never attains anything memorable.

A prequel to the popular Robin Hood mythos, it's nice to see a bit of a forming of what would become the merry men. How Robin became an outlaw (in this film's version), and how the relationship between him and Marrion began. It all adds up to an awesome setup. Just setup alone cannot sustain film without heart. Robin Hood wants to still be that epic. It wants Godfrey to be a worthy villain. But he's just not. He's not the evil tyrant. Just a bad guy who almost does something worse.

The same could be said for much of the film. In 2 hours and 20 minutes the filmmakers have a lot that they want to touch on. A few subtle hints, but by the end, I still felt like they left some stuff out. The kids in the forest - one look from one of them at the town, next thing they're full on warriors? King John suddenly learning how to do politics? Friar Tuck (Mark Addy)... yeah?

Crowe, and company, all deliver admirably (especially considering Strong and Addy are the only leads who are actually British). Heck, I really enjoyed Crowe's more down to earth, man of the people, for the people, take on Robin. It just never felt like the raw emotion was there for me to care. I wanted to see where the story went. But only in so far as I wanted to know the full vision of how Crowe and Scott wanted to setup the tale.

And the movie was fun. Plenty of good laughs from Kevin Durand as Little John, as well as the rest of Robin's motley crew. The kind of group you could imagine evolving into something memorable upon future installments. But as a stand-a-lone piece, Robin Hood fails to inspire, only managing to just entertain.

Despite the best of intentions, and admiration, Robin Hood is simply a flat line film. Never managing to inspire, it only garners the most basic of entertainment value. Stretching its plot far too thin, failing to use its captivating characters to bulk it back up. It's not a movie that should be avoided, just not rushed out to be seen.

12 better thoughts:

April Skye said...

I really think you covered a broad sense of the film here so i quite enjoyed your review - nicely summed up in the final sentence too. If I must say, I am a little shameful to admit that was my feelings towards the movie and exactly why i chose not to see it in the cinema. I perceived it as good, not great. And your review here confirms my feelings. Still, I think I will still watch this when its available to hire to fully comprehend just how it falls short of something memorable.

April Skye xx

Castor said...

Excellent review. A movie that is certainly entertaining yet doesn't reach greatness. It misses that little something, that emotional pull that seems to be missing from most of Ridley Scott's past few movies.

Culture Served Raw said...

I couldn't agree more. I usually love Crowe and Scott as a duo but this failed to impress me too

Andrew K. said...

Finally...we agree. Everything is essentially on point (nothing on Cate though?) fair but unexceptional.

Univarn said...

@April thanks for the comment :). I think it'd make a solid rental. Definitely not something worth avoiding.

@Castor Exactly. That "little something" just holds this movie back so much.

@Culture Yeah. I think they've still got a shot at one more big hit in them, but this wasn't it.

@Andrew I enjoy Cate, she has that rare gift of being great without standing out too much. I didn't touch on the performances much at all really. They were all fine, but none of them were all that exceptional too me.

Chief Brody said...

A movie that has really split reviewers. The first review I read of the film was glowing...that certainly added to my expectation. Ever since then I've seen a lot of reviews like yours that pick up on some very good bits but with the overall package letting things down. I'm yet to see it but my impression from what I've read is that it will be one of those films that will be re-appreciated in future when the hype and anticipation has worn off.

Heather said...

I like what you had to say about the film. It was a very well done movie. Good, entertaining, good acting, well thought out, but it doesn't rise above that. It's something I couldn't mindlessly watch again and again and genuinely enjoy, but not something that would ever strike my mind in the highest of regard.

That being said, it's still one of the better movies I've seen this year.

Unknown said...

something I COULD mindlessly watch again.....pardon my typo

Snipes said...

As a Crowe enthusiast I was a little underwhelmed, mainly because the action wasn't of the same caliber for a typical Ridley film. In my opinion this affected the film the most, Scott simply is known for his great action sequences and I think toning them down to PG-13 was a mistake. I understand why they did it (to be suitable for younger audiences) but frankly I don't see a lot of young kids enjoying this film, so ironically I think and R-rated Robin Hood would have actually done better in the US.

As for your main gripe, of the film lacking "inspiration", when has any Robin Hood film really been about inspiration? The focus of all prior Robin Hood films as been entertainment. I actually think you might be asking a little to much because the inspiration card can be pulled on almost any film, Iron Man 2 wasn't inspiring either, but that's not what they're shooting for.

I'll agree with you that Robin Hood is pretty unspectacular, but I think that could have been fixed by making the action sequences more spectacular, not by somehow being an inspiring film. If that's what you're looking for you ought to watch a film that's goal is to be inspirational.

Univarn said...

@MVP You see, I think the movie wants to be inspiring. Hence the big speech on equality towards the end. And yes entertainment is important, and it got plenty of points for it. But Robin Hood has always been about inspiring. A man inspiring a country by fighting against tyranny, and the persecution of his fellow man. Suffering the social backlash, and outcast stature that comes with his fight. Overcoming the odds, getting the girl, defeating the evil dictator, removing the rich of their excess, and delivering equality to his people.

Inspiring stuff I'd say.

Snipes said...

Well personally I've never found any of the Robin Hood films particularly inspiring. Now Gladiator, Cinderella Man those are inspiring films. Robin Hood's always been a fun romp, but it's never struck an emotional chord like the film's I've just mentioned.

Franco Macabro said...

Completely agree with your comments on this one, I really liked the themes, going up against the opression and all that, but it was just too unspectacular.

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