Saturday, January 22, 2011

Robin Hood. A-

Robin Hood is a great adventure, the most underrated film of 2010, and Ridely Scott's best effort since Black Hawk Down. When the movie came out, a lot of people claimed that it wasn't fun because our hero was too dour, while the look and feel of the film was grittier and bleaker than a Robin Hood adventure should be. Did people not realize that this is about Robin Hood before he roamed with his merry men and stole from the rich to aid the poor? If Robin was all gleeful in this, it would verge on being disturbing. He supposed to be serious and intense because he hadn't earned the love and respect of the people. This movie shows how he got to that point (and it's not all depressing. Robin shows signs of his inner sense of humor and merriment several times throughout the film). The film also stresses the historical situation, which plays into the heavily convoluted plot. Russell Crowe is ideal choice to play Robin, naturally inhibiting his rugged charm without making us think too much of General Maximus from Gladiator. Cate Blanchett is Lady Marian, not the princess we usually picture but rather a disciplined hard worker who manages a farm while her husband is fighting. Robin actually goes to Nottingham disguised as Marian's husband, who has died. Of course the love story between them begins to grow, but Scott makes sure to keep it slow and tamed. Again, this is a realistic movie, so we can't honestly expect Robin and Marian to instantly fall in love. There's a great cast here besides Crowe and Marian. Mark Strong is effective albeit obvious as King John's henchman, while William Hurt steals his scenes as an English statesman. As good as Robin Hood is, it's not without its problems. The climax doesn't quite come together as it should, and Marian makes a stupid appearance at the disappointing final battle that takes away the realism of the movie. But as a whole I loved it. This is the Robin Hood we needed. A fresh take and a very original movie. At last Ridely Scott has made a great directing choice again.

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