Robin Hood review
Within the Nottingham forest, a band of thieves stop a king's carriage and take the gold for themselves. Did I say for themselves? No, I meant that they give it back to the poor that paid for it, knowing that the kingdom would have either stockpiled it or spent it on unneeded things. This is the basic story of Robin Hood. In a way, he may be the first, if only, medieval superhero that stood up for the people, ensuring that everyone had a fair chance to live a good life without an unneeded tax blocking them. Standing in his way were two villains; the greedy Prince John and the ruthless Sherriff of Nottingham.
He's no stranger to film adaptations. Some are more serious like the Kevin Costner Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Some are more adventurous like the Errol Flynn led The Adventures of Robin Hood. Some are even comedic like the Mel Brooks directed Robin Hood: Men in Tights. My favorite is still the Disney animated Robin Hood, which I felt was a fun combination of the three. So if a new version was going to be attempted, then you need to try something different. I guess the people behind the new Robin Hood needed to figure something else out.
A wealthy young lord, Robin of Loxley (played by Taron Egerton) seems to be enjoying his life with his girlfriend Marian (played by Eve Hewson) until he is drafted to fight in the war of the Crusades. While away from England, Robin finds himself at odds with his captain when he kills a son of a Muslim fighter. Robin manages to get away and smuggle himself back to England. He finds his former home ransacked and Nottingham becoming a smoke stack of industry, led by the ruthless Sheriff (played by Ben Mendelsohn) He also finds that everyone thinks he died, thus Marion ended up getting together with someone else.
The man from the Crusades had also smuggled himself to England, where he confronts Robin, introduces himself as John (played by Jamie Fox) and tells him that he could be trained to be an underground fighter. After a period of training, Robin wears a mask and starts to confront the sheriff's soldiers to take back the tax money from the common people. To get in good with the Sheriff, Robin reintroduces himself and mingles with the upper class. It all cultivates together as Robin continues his bow and arrow adventures to confront the sheriff.
I have to give this Robin Hood some credit. It had a vision to combine a medieval setting with some modern ideas (weapon design, costume, etc…). The problem is that rather then using it to it's advantage, it serves as a backdrop for a very dull, unimaginative retelling. The most important element of any story is its characters, and there is little to none. Robin is your typical hero, John is the typical mentor, Marion is the typical damsel in distress and the sheriff is the typical screaming villain. That’s about it.
There is talent behind these faces as actors Taron Egerton and Ben Mendelsohn are trying to bring their excitement into their parts, but along with the other actors, their roles aren’t written well enough to bring much. They go from point A to B and then they repeat this pattern until the story dictates their actions. Speaking of which, how's the action? It's standard. It's clear that it wants to be a lot like a superhero movie. I can't complain much as some of it did look neat.
Even as typical action movies go, I still don't remember much, even with it's odd setting. If they wanted to add modern era ideas and style, then why not go all the way and make it a modern day retelling? It would have at least been able to address the flaws of the past and current era. But as it is, I still have to recommend the Disney version over this. Thinking about it further, even the Disney Robin Hood knew better how to use it's modern actors better and even admit in the beginning that it was going to be a different interpretation. All this does is say "Forget everything you know about the story". I will certainly forget this movie.
I'll give this one wanted poster out of five. Robin Hood's biggest crime isn't that it's badly made. Its that it can't find an entertaining way to bring back a classic swashbuckling tone that could be modernized. Just shoot an arrow at this and move on.