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RUNNING TIME: 156 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Still Gallery
Robin Hood becomes Robin Longstride. Ridley Scott proves that Black Hawk Down, Alien and Blade Runner were flukes.
Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Addy, Mark Strong, William Hurt and Max von Sydow
Robin Longstride and friends return from the Crusades to find England in ruins. The French are planning to invade, while everything has gone to shit. King John is an asshole and he’s letting the Sheriff raise an army to collect excessive taxes from the poor. That’s not to say that Robin is much better. His Knightly pal Sir Robert Loxley was slain in one of the closing battles of the Crusades. Robert makes Robin swear to take back his earthly remains to his wife and father. Robin and his pals decide to use the return as an excuse to slip into the Loxleys’ good favors and get some quality English land.
This film first started off as a script called Nottingham that was supposed to be about the Robin Hood tale told from the Sheriff’s point-of-view. It flopped around Hollywood for the better part of the last decade until it landed at Scott Free Productions. Ridley Scott decided that he wanted a challenge and the result was this flick. Sometimes, you get Blade Runner and sometimes you get A Good Year. Guess where this film landed! I know that it’s fun to bash recent Scott offerings, but there’s a reason for that. They range from mediocre to pretty fucking terrible.
Robin Hood has had his tale told many times before on the Silver Screen. I’m partial to the Errol Flynn and foxy Disney versions. Scott’s version offers up cinema’s oldest Robin Hood with Crowe tackling the titular title. Relying on a script rewritten by underrated writer Brian Helgeland, we get this seemingly most historically accurate take on England’s most famous archer. The historical accuracy angle is always a bitch as Hollywood could give a fuck about historical accuracy. If they really gave a damn about that, you’d have someone that looked like Brenda Blethyn in the Marian role. American cinema will always be about glamor and grandstanding.
film offers up a ridiculous take on the Robin Hood mythos. Robin is now a scoundrel soldier who returns to England and takes part some Identify theft with the father of his dead friend. While feminist revisionism has changed the role of Maid Marian in recent times, Ridley Scott has firmly kicked that Steinem shit to the curb. Cate Blanchett is one of the greatest actresses working today, so you can almost feel her boredom in this thankless role. She exists to facilitate droll conversations and to make Robin Hood look less queer in the company of his burly forestry men.
When you look at where the film falters, it becomes obvious. Scott and his players are trying to tell a tale of violent upheaval in what would mark the start of England’s Golden Age. When you look for scenes of serious struggle or outright battles, it’s limited to two scenes during the film’s 156 minutes. Others have tried tackling the social and political aspects of the Robin Hood tale with better results, but what Scott has done is set out a laundry list of objectives that he doesn’t ever finish. We get the Crusades origin, the return to England for a better life and the start of a cultural war between the Poor and the Rich. Using Helgeland’s draft as a launchpad gives Scott more material to cram in between those three hefty main goals. He wants to explain away why England got this bad, how it made France so much stronger and how Robin historically fits into the mix.
The cast is amazing and I feel that’s been ignored since the film’s theatrical release in May. Scott has always had an eye for assembling actors and one has to admit that he did a good job here. Hell, he made me forget that the kid from Critters was playing Will Scarlet. William Hurt and Max von Sydow carry their limited scenes well, as they show Crowe how to spout exposition without looking like a wooden thug. Seeing as how so much of the film is carried on Crowe’s performance, a part of the film’s failure becomes obvious. Russell Crowe was terribly miscast.
Crowe is an exceptional actor who has fared better in far worse films. But, he seems to believe that he can only make films with Ridley Scott. It’s time to move on, Mister Crowe. Ridley Scott is obviously falling back into that same trap where he spent most of the 1980s. Scott seems to be selecting projects seemingly just to keep working, while he hopes for that next big picture to elevate him. The man has one of the sharpest eyes in filmdom, but he can’t ever seem to fully translate his vision without the help of a strong editor and a self-editing screenwriter.
What sticks in my throat about this film is that it wants to be the final word on Robin Hood. Between the bizarre editing and forceful insertion of dialogue scenes that Crowe doesn’t seem able to handle…we have a struggle between directorial oversight and actor agenda. Watching for roughly the fifth time, it becomes obvious that one party was wanting to make a work of historical fiction and the other believed they were still in an action movie take on a popular legend. One should never discredit Ridley Scott as a lazy director. What he wants to do is so big for a feature length film that one wonders why he doesn’t try to take some of his work to the premium cable channels.
The end result is a giant mess of a film that cost Universal somewhere in the ballpark of 200 million dollars. At this rate, I don’t believe any recent Universal release outside of Inglorious Basterds and Despicable Me has made a profit. Who at the Black Tower keeps green-lighting these films that seemingly no one wants to watch? At this rate, I don’t want to bother with Ridley Scott or Russell Crowe until they split up for a few years. Their partnership has gone sour and I hate to see two talented individuals keep making failures piles like this.
The Blu-Ray comes with various BD exclusives that allow you to watch the theatrical and director’s cuts with behind-the-scenes footage. You also get lengthy art galleries and portfolios that examine how the art crew created the costumes and locations of Medieval England. The deleted scenes are introduced by editor Pietro Scalia. Scalia also provides commentary when one wonders why Ridley Scott wasn’t available. There’s more featurettes about the production and how Ridley Scott reimagined this classic story with his Ridleygrams. You also get a DVD and Digital Copy to round out the home theatrical experience.