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Laramie Movie Scope:
Robin Hood

A different take on a classic tale

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 30, 2010 -- I saw Russell Crowe on the Craig Ferguson show a while back flogging his latest movie, “Robin Hood.” He said something like, “You know how most Robin Hood movies have the men in tights, Robin Hood and Little John fighting with staffs on a log and Robin fighting in the name of King Richard? Well, there's none of that in this movie.” I finally got around to seeing this film and it really is very different than any other version of this oft-told tale.

This film seeks to show us Robin Hood's background and something of the social structure of the time. In this film, King Richard gets killed near the beginning of the film and he doesn't figure much into the story after that. This is more about events purportedly leading up to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 more than it is about anything else. The movie begins around the time of the death of King Richard I in 1199 by an arrow fired by a cook in a French castle. At the time, Robin Longstride (Crowe) was a soldier in the king's army. After the king's death, Robin is sentenced to death, along with other men, but manages to escape.

Through a series of very odd circumstances, Robin comes into possession of both King Richard's crown, and the Sword of Sir Robert Loxley. He vows to return both to their rightful owners. Returning the crown is a bit tricky since he is under a death penalty, but he manages the trick. Returning the sword is not only easier, but Sir Walter Loxley (played by Max Von Sydow) even allows Robin to assume the identity of his dead son, Sir Robert Loxley. Robin and his friends are suddenly elevated in society from the bottom to something a lot closer to the upper crust. It turns out that Robin was the son of a visionary man who developed an idea similar to the Magna Carta years before it was finally adopted, and was beheaded for his revolutionary ideas. Robin decides to revive the idea of a Great Charter which will give rights and legal protection to all.

Skulking around in the background are some evildoers who have allied themselves with French forces intent on overthrowing England's King John (Oscar Isaac). There are some stirring speeches and some pitched battles between the English forces and the invading French. Along for the ride of course are such well-known associates of Robin as Little John (Kevin Durand), Friar Tuck (Mark Addy) and Maid Marion, who in this case is Marion Loxley, Robin's sort of inherited wife (Cate Blanchett of the Lord of the Rings movies). Marion is not the shy retiring type in this movie, she shoes horses and wields a sword in battle, which looks a bit silly. Blanchett is no Xena. She is way too skinny to be waving that big sword about with any authority. The chief bad guy is Godfrey (Mark Strong, who played Lord Blackwood in “Sherlock Holmes”). Godfrey is about as bad as they come and Strong plays it to the hilt. The rest of the cast is strong as well.

Production values are high and the fight scenes are well-staged. The English accents threw me at times and I couldn't follow some of the dialog for that reason. I wished I had subtitles. Aside from that, it is a decent action film with some history thrown in. Some of the history depicted in the film is accurate, but I'm sure a lot of the plot is just made up. By the end of the film, however, we get a pretty good idea of who Robin Hood is and how he ended up as an outlaw in the Sherwood Forest. The stage is set for a possible sequel. What is missing from this version of Robin Hood is the fun that usually goes with things like robbing the rich and giving the loot to the poor. This comes across as very serious, and it doesn't need to be. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)