Robin Hood hit theaters back in the spring and I was there on opening
weekend. It was pretty obvious that the theatrical cut had a few things
missing. The final fight scene was over in 30 seconds and certain
subplots felt either rushed or underdeveloped. For this reason, I held
off on my review of the movie until I saw the unrated director’s cut.
Lucky for me, that was the only way they released the darn movie.
So now that I’ve seen the movie as Ridley Scott intended it, how does it
Hit and miss. To the extreme. Robin Hood either does things extremely
well or really bad. I’ll start with the good.
Warning, I’m discussing the entire movie in full detail, spoilers and all.
The actors all do absolute top notch work. And could you really expect
any less from Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Max von Sydow
and everybody else they brought on board? The characters, their
motivation, why they do what they do, has a lot of classical story
elements to it, almost on a Shakespearan level.
Rather than a simple straightforward story line, the film is almost more
about the repercussions of the Crusades on England with taxation,
political turmoil and everything that goes on. The ramifications are
explored on a very personal level. We see that Lady Marion as a strong
female character not because she just happened to be that way, but rather
because she spent ten years running the farm and household of her
father-in-law with her husband off to fight the Crusades. Her strength
developed from that adversity.
One of the elements of the theatrical release that I thought was weak was
a subplot about the teenage boys of Nottingham running off in to the woods
in their fathers absensce to live a Lord of the Flies-esque life. It felt
more like an afterthought in the theatrical version. It turns out that
about two thirds of their scenes were cut. With their full story on
display in the Director’s Cut, the movie took on an extra level of depth.
It shows that with their fathers not present, nobody is there to show them
how to become men. This subplot is fleshed out much more, and really was
There are a great number of other subplots and characters that I could
discuss in depth, but I’ll restrain myself for sake of brevity.
The level of detail in this movie is absolutely beautiful. Every single
shot of this movie looks like a carefully constructed painting. Having
some Roman ruins strewn about also added to the realism and beauty of the
But where does the film go off the deep end?
Most of my problems with the movie were directly related to the French
invasion. One of the main characters is plotting with the French. He’s
inciting civil war in England so the French can more easily le massacre
First of all, of all the various plot lines going on, this one was the
least compelling. Maybe it’s because it was so cookie-cutter, maybe the
main players in this part of the movie were the weakest actors involved,
maybe it’s because I’ve always found character-driven plots more
interesting, maybe it’s that time of the month for me, I don’t know.
Whatever the reason, it just wasn’t that interesting.
Secondly, we find out about most of the way through the movie that Lady
Marion is also a warrior. She can sword fight with the best of them. To
which I said “Really?” I guess that the writer (Brian Helgeland, who also
wrote and directed A Knights Tale) thought we couldn’t consider a woman to
be a strong character unless she killed people too. It gets worse when
the climactic fight scene when she rallies the aforementioned teenage boys
from the woods and leads them in to the battle. Again, really? In a
battle where 500 big angry Englishmen are fighting 500 big angry
Frenchmen, Cate Blanchett and 20 teenagers armed with sticks and knives
are going to turn the tide of the battle? Really?
And most obnoxious of all was one of the great anachronisms in the history
of cinema. The French invaders stage a beach landing using Higgins boats.
The less historically inclined among you might wonder what those are.
They are personnel carrier boats that were used during World War II, most
notably during the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. The damn things
were invented in 1940 and apparently used by the French at the turn of the
12th Century. Really?
This wouldn’t bug me so much if the premise of their filmmaking wasn’t to
show a more realistic version of the story of Robin Hood.
So most of my issues with the movie would have gone away with the
exclusion of the French invasion storyline. The movie would have been
much better if it simply stuck to the character driven plot lines and
avoided the French invasion completely.
On the whole, though, I really did like the new Robin Hood a lot, and
would highly recommend checking it out.
75 out of 100
For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man.