A blog about movies and filmmaking.

You Prince Of Thieves You…

In action on May 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Ridley Scott’s new movie, ROBIN HOOD, may not be his best, my favorite, or even in the top five of either of those. But it is really fun. What I’m about to say might sound like a negative, but it’s really not – I may not know who half of the characters were in the movie, I didn’t really get how some of the plot worked, but it was funny (intentionally, not in a bad way) and that made this a great movie-going experience.

The movie which is actually pretty light on blood, heavy on humor, and full of Russell Crowe love; just seemed like it was a bunch of boys out having fun spending $130-million. (oh, and Cate Blanchett too – who looks striking even all dirtied-up and trying her best to act like she isn’t having fun.) The story focusses on the man who will become the infamous hero, Robin Hood, but what we see is all leading up to that final moment. There’s only one scene of him doing his “stealing from the rich” thing, and the rest is Crusades, fighting French and everyone cracking wise. The movie starts with Richard “The Lionheart” sacking some medieval city (if you want to know which one, look it up in your history books), and we are introduced to our main merry men. Crowe’s Robin Longstride (yeah, sounds like something from THE HOBBIT), naturally, is an archer. He’s helped along by fellow archers, Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), and Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle, hmm, similar names between character and actor; sounds like a “specifically created role”). There’s also Little John (Kevin Durand), who will join our Robin on the adventure into legend.

Well, to not spoil too much of the movie – and what I guess is actually a departure in quite a bit of ways from history – I won’t go too far into the plot. Needless to say it’s fun. Supporting roles are filled with incredible actors from Danny Huston as Richard “The Lionheart”, Mark Strong as Godfrey, Mark Addy as Friar Tuck, Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley, and Oscar Isaac as Prince John.

The negatives of the movie, do indeed go back to what I said at the beginning though. There are far too many characters with shaved heads and scars; or gangly, gross looking sods; to differentiate them. So anyone that isn’t one of the characters listed above kind of all just meld together. There’s a spy, the henchman, another henchman, miscellaneous soldiers, the King of France, the Sheriff of Nottingham – not a single one could I really tell from another. Then there’s the locations. Maybe in medieval England, every town had the exact same rock post with a cross on top – but they were bound to look a little different, or at least have differing buildings around them. Granted the font used to label each place was pretty to look at, but again, I couldn’t tell you Nottingham from London from wherever else they went. Finally there’s the plot. It’s the last in the flurry of things that I have no idea what’s going on.

All of which, as I also said at the beginning sounds like I should dislike the movie; but in-fact, I enjoyed it very much. The antagonistic/flirty relationship between Marian and Robin; the hilarity of Max von Sydow wielding a sword (and actually battling with Mark Strong’s character, despite the elder Loxley being blind) and other things he does through the movie. The chemistry and interactions of the much-underused sidekicks of Scarlet, John and A’Dayle. Even Prince John, who seems at a certain moment to turn the corner from main villain (stepping aside to let Strong’s Godfrey do his worst) and becomes just another character that starts having fun with his power. Then again, in his first appearance on-screen, he’s dallying with a French misstress, while his mother scolds him for cheating on his wife – who was watching through a key-hole.

Oh and I totally forgot to mention that William Hurt is in the movie.

Anyway, to end this babbling, the movie is great fun. It’s much lighter than Scott’s recent line of movies; from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN to BODY OF LIES and AMERICAN GANGSTER. Crowe looks good – not quite able to get back down to his lean GLADIATOR days, but much more in shape than he’s been in a while. Brian Helgeland’s script, delivers on the laughs and what little story there is to decipher; but an enjoyable movie is all a filmmaker can really hope for, I guess.

Go see it, it’s much better than the other “historical” epics we’ve recently gotten have been. (Looking at you CLASH OF THE TITANS and the soon to be released PRINCE OF PERSIA – that I’m just blindly assuming will also be kind of crappy.)

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