Movie Review: Robin Hood (2010)

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A soldier returns from the Crusades to lead an uprising against the corrupt king.

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Ridley Scott, 2010

During the Crusades, a soldier named Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) crosses paths with King Richard (Danny Huston) and is there when the king dies in battle. Robin and his men decide to desert the war in order to return the crown to England. They bring it back to the vain Prince John (Oscar Isaac), whose inexperience as a leader drives him to overtax the already desperate people. Meanwhile, Robin returns to his home town and informs Lady Marion (no idea why they change the spelling for this movie) Loxley (Cate Blanchett) that her husband has died in battle. Loxley’s father in law, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow), proposes that Robin pose as his son. Robin and his men begin to rebel against the ruthless Crown, and John begins a man hunt for Robin.

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This is a hot mess of a Robin Hood adaptation. There are so many odd choices throughout the film, which has all these hints of something better, but falls so far short that it’s almost laughable. The film’s most short-sighted move was to go fully dark and gritty, erasing all fun from the Robin Hood myth. Its second biggest mistake was in choosing to change Robin Hood’s origin story, including an incredibly dodgy fake marrieds storyline that is genuinely upsetting in how it treats Cate Blanchett’s otherwise amazing Maid Marian. She’s so incredibly competent, so much more badass and interesting than Russell Crowe’s wet, bland Robin, that one can’t help but wish she could be the hero instead. The decision to “modernise” the Robin Hood myth by making him the son of a commoner who fought for the rights of the people is bizarre and short-sighted. Meanwhile, the movie also seems to waver on the issue of humanising Pince John. Oscar Isaac balances John’s arrogance and cowardice with genuine notes of fear and affection. Rather than the simpering asshole he’s normally depicted as, Isaac’s John is genuinely in love with his French mistress, played by Lea Seydoux. As the youngest child, he never thought he’d actually inherit the throne, and is hopelessly unprepared. And really, Robin kind of comes across as almost as much of an asshole by the time the last battle rolls around.

The grimy grey battles are another problem with this movie. Instead of guerilla tactics and archery contests, this Robin Hood spends most of his time fighting wars. Turning Robin Hood into a war movie takes away a lot of the fun and vitality of the movie, and paradoxically makes Robin less of a relatable hero you want to root for, even while his changed backstory is trying to make him more of an everyday hero. The wish fulfilment element of the Robin Hood myth disappears with this approach. Also, this movie really hates the French; they’re basically cartoon villains, especially Mark Strong’s scarred French spy. There’s nowhere near enough of the Merry Men, especially (in my biased opinion) Kevin Durand’s Little John, who manages an impressive regional British accent for a Canadian accent. Russell Crowe struggles with a simple shift from Australian to generic British. The casting of Mark Addy as Friar Tuck also seems inspired, but is wasted. This movie is also waaaay too long, with far too many shakycam battle scenes where arrows fly at the camera. Total waste of time and talent.

Robin Hood on IMDb

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Robin Hood (2010)

  1. I’ve always loved the Robin Hood stories and many of the film versions, even Prince of Thieves which most people love to hate. I’ve put off watching this one for two reasons, one the length and the other the overall story. After reading this review, I think I might stop worrying about watching it as I’m not a fan of old characters inserted into a new story. It’s laziness to not come up with brand new characters and try to relay on old standards, weakening both.

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