MOVIE: Robin Hood (2010)

I wasn’t expecting much from this film, to be honest  — figured it would be a fairly standard Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott action flick, like Gladiator set in England instead of Rome.  And while that is, in fact, pretty much what it is, I ended up really enjoying it, especially the fact it takes such a different approach to the standard Robin Hood yarn.

The story most of us are familiar with is the one about the bandit living in the forest of Nottingham along with his merry band of thieves, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.  But this film starts about a year before that more traditional tale.  It opens in Europe at the end of the Crusades, where an archer named Robin Longstride (Crowe) is fighting alongside King Richard the Lionheart as they pillage their way back to England, jubilant with victory.

When Richard is killed in battle, one of his most trusted knights, Sir Robert Loxley, is given his crown to return to the palace, where it will be passed on to Richard’s brother, King John the Foolhardy.  On the way to the ship that aims to take them home, however, Loxley’s group is attacked by a gang of Frenchmen led by a British traitor named Godfrey, who, it turns out, is in cahoots with the French king, planning to turn England against John, leaving the country vulnerable to invasion.

Godfrey manages to kill all of Loxley’s men, and fatally wound Loxley himself, before Robin and his pals stumble onto the scene and scare him off.  As Loxley lies dying, he begs Robin to take his sword back to Nottingham to return to his father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow).  Robin, an honorable sort, can’t refuse the wish of a dying man, and once Loxley has passed, he and his gang, including ye olde familiars Little John and Will Scarlett, steal the knights’ armor and gear, with plans to pass themselves off as king’s men to gain faster passage home.

When they get to the ship, Robin identifies himself as Loxley and shows the king’s crown as evidence, nervous that at any moment, they’ll all be found out and hanged.  But nobody suspects a thing, and when Robin successfully passes the crown to John without anybody recognizing him as a fake, he and his pals decide to maintain their charade all the way to Nottingham.

When they arrive, Loxley’s father asks Robin to pretend to be his son a while longer in order to strengthen Nottingham’s status in the growing unrest.  The only hitch?  Robert’s wife, Marion, who isn’t too keen on having a stranger passing himself off as her spouse.  Luckily, it’s not long before Robin has cause to take his shirt off, taming her resistance immediately, and the two begin to fall in love.  (Well, okay, but once YOU see him without his shirt on, I think you’ll understand.)

Back at the palace, Godfrey manages to Wormtongue his way into the king’s ear, convincing John to enact enormous taxes on all the land owners so he can become richer and more powerful.  John’s just dumb enough to believe that ruling with an iron fist is the best way to get respect — exactly what the French king was counting on.  As a civil war begins to brew in England, the French gather up their swords and set sail for its shores, ready to divide and conquer.

But Robin’s since learned a secret about his own past that has inspired him to take a stand against the king and unite the people against the French.   You want respect, he tells John, you gotta earn it, yo.  And the best way to do that is to give the people MORE freedom, not less.  (Magna Carta, anyone?)  The king reluctantly agrees, promising his people that just as soon as the French are quashed, he’ll sign a treaty that restores more power to the citizenry.  But, of course, as soon as the French are put down, John reneges on his promise and declares Robin a traitor.

Robin retreats to the forest of Nottingham, and the film ends just where most Robin Hood stories begin — with “Robin of the Hood” an infamous outlaw, teamed up with Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marion to battle the forces of evil and mete out justice their own way. (Cue Robin Hood Daffy to complete the saga in the very best of ways — “Ho ho and ha ha, eh?  I’ll ho ho and ha ha you, fat friar. . .!”)

Though it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Ridley Scott movie, cheesy dialogue and silly romance times bloody battle and male bonding plus one, I still found it really entertaining.  I enjoyed the characters, especially Blanchett as Marion (to be honest, I mostly just appreciated that they cast an older woman as the romantic lead instead of, say, Megan Fox), and also the historical elements, which were surprisingly not that inaccurate.

All in all, a darn good time and well worth a rental.  “Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!”  (For those who have no idea what I’m talking about:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZEcSgGKfQg.  And you’re welcome!)

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Action/Adventure
Cast:  Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Mark Addy, Matthew Macfadyen

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2 Responses to “MOVIE: Robin Hood (2010)”

  1. Liz Says:

    So glad you liked this movie; I did, too. But I’m afraid it got some negative response for exactly the reason we appreciated it: the “different approach to the standard yarn.” I mean, who says the more “familiar” take is any more accurate? It’s a LEGEND, for Pete’s sake!

    Also, did you notice that Scott Grimes, from “ER,” was in it? Also, Kevin Durand, from “Lost” and “Dark Angel.”

  2. Melinda Says:

    I’ve seen Megan Fox in exactly two movies and I’m to the point where any mention of her name triggers the beginning of a sneer in my lip. And might I just say that I can completely see a Cate Blanchett Marion routing Prince John on her own?!

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