“Robin Hood” Movie Review

     When a Ridley Scott film comes out, I immediately conjure up images of the many great films he has directed, such Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down.  The same goes for Russell Crowe.  When he is headlining a film, thoughts of the aforementioned Gladiator, plus A Beautiful Mind, and The Insider come to mind.  Certainly, when these two team up, as they have several times before, the bar is set to a higher standard.  It is perhaps because of this, that “Robin Hood” does not meet this standard, but is still a worthwhile summer action film.

     For those expecting an uplifting, fun movie in the spirit of the many previous Robin Hood films, you may be a bit disappointed.  As they saying goes, “This is not your father’s Robin Hood.”  Rather, it is a prequel which tells the story of the beginnings of such characters as Marion Loxley, Friar Tuck, King Richard, and of course, Robin Longstride.  In the title role, Russell Crowe plays Robin Longstride (we will come to know him as Robin Hood down the road) straight up serious.  He is an archer in King Richard’s army, but is left with nothing when King Richard is killed and his army is split up.  Returning from battle, he is faced with a new King and uncovers a conspiracy involving members of the King John’s court and the French.

     This leads to Robin organizing an army of his own as he effectively convinces the armies of many smaller towns to band together and prevent the French invasion.  By now, Ridley Scott is a proven master at choreographing complicated large scale battle scenes.  With nearly the entire third act devoted to the climactic battle, Scott has plenty of canvas to create such a scene and the results rank  with some of the best.  The problem for me is the originality aspect.  Countless better films like Braveheart, 300, and Scott’s own Gladiator has similar sequences.  How many movies now have featured a scene with thousands of arrows being fired from afar, at the same time, and thus landing on a sometimes shielded army?  Bottom line, you’ve seen this before and Robin Hood brings nothing new to the table and seems to be missing the “wow” factor necessary for this type of film.

     The film has a 140 minute running time and is filled with numerous talkative scenes not unlike Iron Man 2 last week.  This slows things down considerably and with no real humor to speak of, the serious tone may leave some looking down at their watch.  I am all for dialogue, but it has to be engaging conversation that evokes some kind of emotion from the audience, whether it be laughter, sympathy, or sadness.  Give us something!  Instead, we are left many emotionless scenes about characters you will likely not care for.

     Make no mistake, the film is nice to look at and there was clearly a lot of effort that went into every shot.  The technical achievements in this film are top notch and the CGI, especially in the third act, are as good as you will see this summer.  Ridley Scott is a master director, but I think his screenwriter, Brian Helgeland, may have fallen short on this one and that may be where the shortcoming is.

     Know this.  I consider “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” to be a great film with great memorable characters.  There were scenes throughout that film which had suspense and hooked the audience emotionally.  There is none of that in Scott’s film.  No romance with Maid Marion, nor a hint of it.  No Merry Men.  No stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.  Apparently, Robin Hood is going to live a lot better days in the future. GRADE: C