Originally Reviewed – 6/8/2010
Ah, Sir Robin of Loxley. Most of us remember the legendary character as a swashbuckling adventurer, shooting arrows, rescuing damsels in distress and outwitting the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Even though the character was written as a criminal of sorts, his mantra of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor had a sense of chivalry and charity about it that was uncommon in literary / film heroes. This combination of wit, charm and a gentleman’s grace has been the hallmark of the character since the 15th century. So, what should we expect from a 21st century interpretation at the hands of Ridley Scott?
Mud and boredom.
Robin Hood “2010” is the modern re-imagination, or in this case regurgitation, of the classic film franchise that does nothing but make you pine for Kevin Costner in tights again. While one would think the directing / acting team of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe would provide a more modern, visceral take on the classic character, all you get is Gladiator Lite or, more appropriately, Gladiator Dull. Everything in this film fails in almost epic proportions. The writing is uninspired, the action is predictably stale and any ounce of life or intrigue the character inherently possesses is siphoned out by the shoddy direction. In a word, this film is a lifeless bore and everybody involved needs to take a piece of the blame.
Surprisingly, the cast holds the least amount of responsibility for the debacle. Russell Crowe, as Sir Robin, plays the part with the same kind of earnest growl that was seen in Gladiator, only this time he’s engaging in PG-13 play fighting, not severing heads in Rome. Crowe plays the part as well as can be expected and while he doesn’t have the natural charisma required to play the part, still could have done a decent job given better material. Cate Blanchett is also fine as the girl power version of Maid Marion, but falls into the same pitfalls as Crowe does. It also doesn’t help that Blanchett and Crowe have almost no on screen chemistry, leading to long drawn out scenes of banter than have no spark. The main bright spot in the cast is Kevin Durand, who plays the part of Little John. Durand is the only cast member who looks as though he’s actually seen Robin Hood and plays the part with the kind of enthusiasm one would expect of the entire cast.
Notice one recurring theme in the above paragraph: story, story, story. The main nail in this film’s coffin is a plodding, meandering borefest of a story that takes two and a half hours to go nowhere. While I understand the point of setting up the “new Robin Hood”, you need to entertain the masses a bit while getting there. Rather than some swordplay and robbing from the rich, you pay $12 to see Robin Hood banter with some dead guys dad, watch Blanchett till fields and see about 5 seconds of the Sheriff of Nottingham. By the time you get to the epic final battle, you’re so busy flaking sleep crust from your eyes, you really could care less who wins or loses.
The rest of the film simply floats along this script of fail with not a life raft in sight. The direction is uninspired, the score is standard adventurer fare and the cinematography captures the gritty, muddy landscapes adequately, yet never beautifully. The cinematography was particularly puzzling as everything was cast in an ugly grayish green hue that made me, in the words of Louis Black, almost slit my wrists, just so I could see color. Gone are the green trees and lush foliage of Sherwood Forrest, only to be replaced with muck, soot and grime. This, mixed with the shoddy story and bland direction, gives the movie an overly serious and brooding tone that sucks any semblance of life from the feature, and in turn, bores the audience to tears. Maybe the eventual sequel will actually have a point or a conclusion we care about, but until then, give this film a miss. After all, it’s Robin Hood; we really didn’t need the setup in the first place.
Score – 40%