Robin Hood Reviews
The supporting cast is very strong with Mark Addie likable as Friartuck,
The supporting cast is very strong with Mark Addie likable as Friartuck, Max Von Sydow still engaging at 106 years old as Marion's father, and Oscar Isaac as a petulant and shifty Prince John to highlight a few. It's true that Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner both have this Robin Hood beat in terms of thrills and spells, but that wasn't Ridley Scott's ambition. He t approaches this legend with reverence and is more interested in who the characters are than showering the screen with arrows, with a couple exceptions. I found this return teaming of Crowe & Scott much superior to the overblown "Gladiator", which many of those same critics probably adored.
This turns out to be a prequel Robin Hood story, and I'm assuming some of the story was gathered by fictionalization of real history between French and English conflicts. They may also come from previous Robin Hood tales; I don't know, there are an abundance of stories. For Robin Hood buffs, the surprising alteration may be the death of King Richard early on. The writers can get away with this because historically, from a narrative perspective, he doesn't need to be alive. This also opens them up to attack. And rather than Richard be some kind, loving king, he is at most empathetic, but cruel to punish those who would speak their mind. Robin is not out to defend the honor of Richard, he just wants to be out of this crusade mess, which he disagrees with. He gets attached to something else, a pact with a dying knight - Robert of Loxley - to bring his sword to his father and inform him of his death. Robin sets off with his Merry Men, not thinking he'll fulfill the obligation, but feeling more compelled as a voice of destiny speaks from within, reacting to the words on Robert's sword.
This is a nicely crafted screenplay by Brian Helgeland, who is deep into the Robin Hood mythos while expanding the scope. Prince John is boorish
The problem with any Ridley Scott film is the lacking point of view, which I feel only succeeds in the original Alien. Otherwise, he tends to haphazardly cover scenes with lots of angles, but no meaning, purpose, and to no effect. He loses the emotion of pivotal moments by not exploring any ideas within it. His attitude seems to be "act, film, next." Scott has a few tricks - the angled camera shutter and the muted colors -- none of which appeal to me. The production design is fantastic, but you wouldn't think Scott was terribly impressed. I'm not sure what aspect of anything he's interested in while watching his films. It always feels like he just wants to get the job done and go home.
One thing I love in most every other Robin Hood film is the dazzling adventuresome score. We've developed a specific synthesized sound for the modern epic, and anyone daring to dangle outside this cliche will be cut loose from acceptance. That's a shame. Marc Streitenfeld's score is redundantly atrocious, and there were moments I wished for no score at all. Granted, there were some flavorful cues mixed in here and there, but there was no identifiable Robin Hood theme.
I think that the character of Robin Hood is just a vehicle for a message more fundamental, lost in our expectations. We were expecting something similar to what we know and love. The story is not about Robin Hood, rather Magna Carta Libertatum - The Great Charter of Liberties. The message of the story is that we must fight to preserve those liberties.
Historically, Ridley Scott has got a few things right. He eluded to the Barons War of 1215 in which Magna Carta was signed. King John's reneging on Magna Carta is historically accurate. King Richard's feather by an arrow to the neck whilst laying siege is correct.
From a fight perspective, it was nice to see soldiers in formation, rather than just paring off into duels. Using their shields, rather than just using them as counterweights.
There were a few annoyances, like massive explosion on the castle gates...
Stupid special effects and swords don't go schwiiing when you pull them out of the scabbard.... sigh...
Really enjoyed the film.