Friday, 21 June 2013

FILM: Robin Hood (7/10)

Why did I watch it?
The Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe combo has served up some more than decent films over the years and I was definitely interested in seeing Scott's take on a British legend.

What's it all about?
Russell Crowe stars as Robin Longstride, an archer in King Richard I's army returning across France from the Holy Lands. Longstride interrupts a French plot to assassinate the King, who unbeknown to the French has already been killed. Impersonating Sir Robin Loxley, who was killed in the failed ambush, Robin escort the King's crown back to England with his closest soldiers and Robin continues to Nottingham fulfil a promise to the dying Loxley.
Should you watch it?
If the plot described above sounds nothing like any Robin Hood film or TV show you have seen before you would be right. This is Ridley Scott's story behind the legend. It's certainly a fresh take on the well known character and I think Scott should be applauded for not repeating the same story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men running amok in Sherwood forest. The true story of Robin Hood is shrouded in doubt and conflicting myths but I think that Brian Helgeland's (L.A. Confidential) screenplay probably stretches historical accuracy to the maximum you may expect of an American-produced film of a British myth.

That leads me onto my next point, the cast. Casting Russell Crowe as Robin, hmmm. Crowe brings a fairly stoic grittiness to the role but I can't help but feel that there were better options. The fact that Crowe is one of the films producers suggests his role as Robin was paid for. As angry as this may make Crowe, there is no denying that his accent in the film was plain off and seems to cover almost all UK regions at some point in time. With the exception of Mark Strong and Mark Addy, the cast is largely American and I found that frustrating as there are scores of British actors that could have played the likes of Little John, Will Scarlett and King Richard I at least as well as Danny Huston. Shows like Game of Thrones have shown that a largely British cast can deliver the goods. Cate Blanchett can be excused as I thought she was excellent as Lady Marian.

Towards the film's end I thought that the film began to morph into Kingdom of Heaven as Robin lead the British defence en masse against the French invasion force on the beaches of the South Coast. At this stage the story seemed to have veered too far away from the Robin Hood we know and love. 

An alternative take on the much told story of one of Britain's favourite characters and one that is worth a watch even if the gritty nature of Robin and his story take away some of the fun and adventure that always been associated with the character. 

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