Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Robin Hood (2010)


Dir: Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Oscar Isaac, Mark Strong, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, Alan Doyle, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Eileen Atkins, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Addy
UK/USA, 2010

Seen: May 15, 2010

Reason to see: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Epic are all a yes individually, together it's madness not to see it.

I saw Robin Hood over the weekend and loved it. Grinned on the way home, tweeted enthusiastically and recommended to a few folks, but when I sat down to write this review I got totally stumped. On what, you ask? On who to recommend it to. I usually shy away from reading reviews until I've written my own, but the social media world allows little blackouts and I was undoubtedly aware that feelings were mixed on this new version, err.. original version, er.. re-visioned.. er... let's just say Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.

I think those little errs... that I stumbled on there is what is stemming the divided on how people are feeling about Robin Hood. If you are a die hard fan of another version, I can see how this new one might not live up to expectations - but that can be the case if you are a die hard anything. I don't feel strongly attached to any previous versions of Robin Hood, in fact the Kevin Costner version Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is one of the first films I remember having a distinct opinion of thinking it wasn't a good film and preferring the elusive 1991 TV version of Robin Hood with Patrick Bergin that ended up coming out the same year. Yes, my film elitist began back in 1991. Anyhow, I went in to this version thinking: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, epic & fingers crossed it's not too much like Gladiator. And I left the film saying: Ridley Scott! Russell Crowe! Epic! It wasn't too much like Gladiator (music was reminiscent at times, but that's all that really stuck out to me and very rarely)! But I also left feeling like it was an original take on the Robin Hood story, it kept me guessing, I was interested and engaged the whole time and I loved the characters. Even the bad guess. Actually, especially the bad guys!

I think what Ridley Scott did was here gutsy and brilliant. It's a completely different point of view on the world and characters, yet there was no moment in the film that I thought was disingenuous nor did I ever doubt a character action or motivation. Ever. It's brilliant storytelling because it maintains consistency within the world it created yet you still see the connections to the baseline tale and characters. I honestly wouldn't have believed it to be possible unless I had seen it myself.

Another thing to note is that it's strongly character and story driven as opposed to action-oriented. Action is a strong part of the film, but it isn't the dominating force here. The action we do get is clever, unique and well done and was certainly present enough for my tastes. I was surprized that it was more character focused, but I actually loved this as the characters are interesting and the performances are great. Russell Crowe is strong in the lead role and I loved Cate Blanchett as Maid Marion. I could go without saying that Max von Sydow is fantastic because he's fantastic in everything he does and I believe in acknowledging that so kudos for him. The diverse supporting cast is one thing that pushed the film to greatness in my opinion, in particular Mark Strong as the villainous Godfrey whom is always strong but this is the best I've ever seen him. It's also very refreshing to see Kevin Durand get to play something other than a big meanie (Walking Tall, "Lost"), and he's delightful here as Little John.

For the die hard Robin Hood fans or people expecting wall-to-wall action, I think it's going to be a hard sell but that doesn't mean it's not one heck of an entertaining film. It is one heck of an entertaining film with a great story, it's own story, just not the one people may be expecting. It is its own tale, and a tale I enjoyed through and through and I hope you give a chance to enjoy as well.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I'd recommend it to fans of character driven epics

15 minutes of preshow including 3 commercials and 6 previews: The Killers, Dinner for Schmucks, Despicable Me, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Salt and The Adjustment Bureau

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010


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