Robin Hood Review

Published 4 years ago by

robin hood review Robin Hood Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Robin Hood

Ridley Scott’s incarnation of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe is a prequel to the story we’re all familiar with – so it may not be the legendary story you’re expecting.

The film opens in 12th century France, where Crowe plays Robin Longstride, an archer in the army of King Richard. The King is on the last leg of the Crusades, “bankrupt and plundering his way back to England” (that’s right, not quite the version of King Richard we’re familiar with). We are introduced to Robin here, establishing that he is a moral man of honor and not afraid to fight.

During an attack on a French castle, things go very wrong and the result is that Robin and his small pack of buddies (eventually the Merry Men) make off for the coast in order to find their way back to England. Along the way they come across an ambush of their fellow countrymen led by Godfrey (Mark Strong), the right hand man of King Richard’s brother, John. Robin is too late to save his countrymen, but one remains barely alive – whose last name is Loxley. In this version, this is how he becomes Robin of Loxley. He’s not a nobleman, just a lowly archer.

Upon returning to England, he meets the wife of the man who’s name he’s taken: Maid Marion (Cate Blanchett). Marion is a beautiful, self-sufficient and strong-willed woman, but when her father-in-law Walter (Max von Sydow) dies (he’s 84, which is OLD for that time), she will lose all claim on her property – so Walter comes up with a solution that Marion is not too pleased with.

In the meantime John is being the King we recognize from previous films: selfish, petty, and willing to tax the citizenry into oblivion to keep his government afloat. He replaces his brother’s advisor William Marshall (played by William Hurt) with Godfrey. Marshall is good and wise while Godfrey is more inclined to John’s methods – so he should not be trusted by anyone, including John.

From here on out we spend most of our time with Robin and Marion as he plays the good, stoic man and she the defiant woman. There are some side trips to visit the Merry Men very briefly (which are enjoyable moments) as well as an introduction to Friar Tuck. In particular I wish that Kevin Durand and Scott Grimes had more screen time – loved seeing them in their roles. We meet the Sheriff of Nottingham early on and sporadically throughout the film – but he seems inserted for no more than tradition’s sake.

crowe blanchett robin hood Robin Hood Review

Russell Crowe & Cate Blanchett 'Robin Hood'

Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow and William Hurt are a pleasure to watch every moment they’re on screen and frankly that makes Robin Hood a lot more bearable than it would have been otherwise. I get that Russel Crowe is playing the solemn, quietly strong hero, but if I didn’t know better I’d say they had Prozac in 12th century England.

Oscar Isaac as Prince John doesn’t seem to fill the role – he’s not supposed to be a strong character by any means, but he comes across a bit too frail even for who he’s portraying. Since they took liberties with the (pre-)story, they took him in a direction that while different, was looking interesting – until they completely reversed it in the last couple of minutes of the film in order to set things up “properly” for the sequel. Considering what came before, his scene at the end felt completely shoehorned in just to fit “canon.”

Mark Strong always makes an effective villain, and while it’s no fault of this film, it’s the third movie in the last five months in which he portrays the bad guy, so I’d like to give someone else a chance at being the villain. Matthew Macfadyen’s role as the Sheriff is so inconsequential it could have been easily removed from the film entirely without affecting it one bit.

What was good? The performances I mentioned above, the battle scenes and the look of the film. They did an admirable job making everything look like it really belonged in that time period – from the costumes and sets down to the gritty look of places and people.

But overall I found the film overly long, drawn out and tedious. When during some point in a film I ask myself “When is this going to be over?” – that is a bad sign. Sure there are some good battle scenes but there’s an awful lot of boring in between. When it comes to superhero movies, people tend to complain about having to get through the origin story – well Robin Hood is ALL origin story. My 3 star rating is on the generous side.

The very last thing you see at the end of the film is “The Legend Begins.” Yeah, that’s the movie I would have rather seen. Frankly, I think you’ll enjoy yourself more if you watch the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood.

[poll id="43"]

If you want to discuss the movie after you’ve seen it without worrying about spoiling it for others, head over to our Robin Hood Spoiler Discussion.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: 3 star movies, robin hood

80 Comments

Post a Comment

Comment With Facebook

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. Unfortunately “historical accuracy” would include an obligatory opening battle scene with charging Arab swordsmen on horseback, their screams of Allah-Hu-Ackbar cut suddenly short as they are dispatched to their virgins by Locksley’s bow.

    It would be box-office gold, but Scott would have been pilloried by the media. It’s one thing to portray my Germanian ancestors as a bloodthirsty horde, but…

    Still hope I live to see the day when the story can be told. I just know that it won’t be soon.

  2. Fist time I have to disagree….I was totally entertained and love the way the first 45 mins set up the 2nd and 3rd act…….and if anyone recalls….many stories about Robin have started with ….”Robin had just returned from the long crusade with King Richard.” The acting was really done right and this film was shot beautifully.

    • Well even husbands and wives don’t agree on everything 100% of the time. :)

  3. “Matthew Macfadyen’s role as the Sheriff is so inconsequential it could have been easily removed from the film entirely without affecting it one bit.”

    I hate to agree, but I do.
    I hate to agree…because…WHAT did this project start out as?

    As for the film that wound up being, I found myself disappointed. I expected more from Scott (and the whole notion of the “evil” King is a big blunder that is hard to forget) and Crowe as well. The film should have been great. Instead, it’s long and dull.

  4. I agree that the story is a little bit thin. And the whole “rise and rise again, untill lambs begome lions” is mentioned only once. Max von Sydow who takes up Russel Crow as his son, and meanwhile knowing Russels real background, didn’t feel quite right to me either. But…the approach Ridley Scott takes in this movie is only describeble as brilliant. I for one know the story about Robin Hood. I saw the version of Kevin Costner, the version from Disney and even the ones from Errol Flynn and Mel Brooks. But this one is completely new. It is fresh. Sure, it could have been better, but you have to give Ridley Scott some credit for this concept.

    I liked the movie.

  5. I liked this movie, and I sincerely hope for a sequel which hopefully improve on the mistakes that were made in this movie, like giving the Sheriff of Nottingham more screen time, and of course King John being the main “villian” so to speak. After all John did in fact try to seize the throne while Richard was away on his Crusade.

    • While I look forward to seeing more of the Sheriff, I don’t think that his bit-part status in this film was mistake. He is, after all, the Sheriff of Nottingham, NOT London. Saying he deserved more screen time in this film, where he has not come fully to the attention of John (at least, until the end when he is the only enforcement option left to King), is like saying the Sheriff of Fulton County in Georgia should be much more famous and perhaps even have federal authority…it’s just not logical.
      The ONLY reason the Sheriff of Nottingham becomes so well-known is because Robin Hood sets up shop there, just outside of the village, and the Sheriff constantly chases him. If you want a direct (albeit, almost insulting) comparison, consider this: No one would have a clue who Roscoe P. Coltrane was if the Duke boys did not live in and careen crazily through Hazzard County!

      I thought the film was great.

      • BTW, before I invariably get the responses that London was not the major city back then that it is now, I KNOW that; I just wanted to pick a place that looms large to us, here in the present in England, to make my point.

  6. This was a good picture, not great but good. Although the story they told here was different from what most will probably expect, I think they did a good job. Im expecting them to follow up with a sequel should the box office gods see it fit, which Im sure it will by the time you kick in DVD sales, etc. I think they have a great chance to make the second film astoundingly better than the first, more in the common thread of the Robin Hood we all know. Along with the great cast of merry men they cast in this pic, it would be hard to make the sequel fail. Just add script, money, acting – then shake.

  7. Plot (C+): I honestly had no clue that this movie was going to be an origin story. Since establishing this blog I try not to read any reviews or spoilers before seeing a film. I only go by the trailers. This way I can form my opinions on films. Robin Hood was much different then I had anticipated and I don’t mean that in a negative way. If anyone was expecting to see the classic Robin Hood story I’m sorry to say this isn’t it. As a historian, I will tell you that there are no conclusive records on who Robin Hood was exactly, which is why there are so many different tales. More specifically, the legend of Robin Hood stems from English folklore. With that said, the story which was presented did keep me interested. Many of the classic Robin Hood virtues are present in this film but he doesn’t rob from the rich and give to the poor. While I did find the movie to be interesting I wasn’t fully captivated by the story. The film lacked a sense of energy. Also, it was definitely too long and slow to develop. Certain scenes could have been cut out and just added to the DVD. Usually I like movies to be long but I felt that the lengthy time factor worked against it.

    Action (B): Action movies that are set in ancient or medieval times have always caught my interest mainly due to my love for history. When I see those types of movies the battle scenes and fighting styles have to be accurate. If they are not, you can expect people, myself included, to get pissed and call it crap. Movies like Gladiator, 300, Alexander, and Kingdom of Heaven correctly displayed the battle techniques used during those periods thus adding to the films authenticity. While Robin Hood’s plot may have not been the strongest I did like the battle scenes. The combination of archers, cavalry, and infantry proved to be England’s greatest strength during times of war. There was a decent amount of action throughout the story however I felt that battle scene at the end of the film was too short and anticlimactic. I don’t need a 25 minutes battle scene, but something a little more than 7 minutes works for me.

    Acting and Dialogue (B-): It goes without saying that Russell Crowe is a very good actor. His dedication to this role is clearly seen throughout the film. From his accent to his skill with the bow and arrow one must applaud his effort. Does Crowe have the same impact as he did in Gladiator? Certainly not. However, he correctly portrays a man who holds his morals very high. Cate Blanchett appropriately fitted the role of Marion: strong, stubborn, loyal, and a tender loving heart. I expected much more from Mark Strong. After seeing his villainous role as Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes I was confident that he would deliver as Godfrey, the Englishman who betrayed his country for France, however that was not the case. He came off a bit dull in my eyes but I think that was just his character. He probably would have been better for the role of King John although that would have meant even less screen time for him. Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Constant Gardener) who played King Richard was a delight to see. His acting was entertaining and properly gave life to man who has been dead for 811 years. What I thought was really funny about him was the way he looked. Huston looked extremely similar to the Lion from The Wizard of Oz after he got that makeover in palace…no joke. He sported long curly hair and thick beard. How appropriate if you think about it.

    Sex Appeal: N/A

    Director (B): Every time I watch a new Ridley Scott movie I know I’m in for some type of treat. His films range from being elaborately beautiful to simplistic and bloody. No matter what direction he decides to go in you can rest assure a good story will be told. Here’s a man who directed a variety of classics such as: Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and Gladiator. These are only a fraction of the quality movies he has directed in his time and I feel ashamed not to mention them (I HIGHLY recommend Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage…HIGHLY). As usual Scott incorporated the same style of directing as he always does in these dramatic action films. The camera is up close and personal with the actors to provide a deeper connection with the audience. The battle scenes are properly filmed with a combination of wide aerial and ground shots. Due to my vast amount knowledge I did spot a carbon copy action scene from Gladiator and I felt that was a cop out. (If you care to know what it is just ask) As I mentioned earlier the film was a bit long…2 ½ hours to be exact. Still, Scott should be praised for his efforts.

    Overall: B-

    http://www.themovietitan.blogspot.com

  8. Plot (C+): I honestly had no clue that this movie was going to be an origin story. Since establishing this blog I try not to read any reviews or spoilers before seeing a film. I only go by the trailers. This way I can form my opinions on films. Robin Hood was much different then I had anticipated and I don’t mean that in a negative way. If anyone was expecting to see the classic Robin Hood story I’m sorry to say this isn’t it. As a historian, I will tell you that there are no conclusive records on who Robin Hood was exactly, which is why there are so many different tales. More specifically, the legend of Robin Hood stems from English folklore. With that said, the story which was presented did keep me interested. Many of the classic Robin Hood virtues are present in this film but he doesn’t rob from the rich and give to the poor. While I did find the movie to be interesting I wasn’t fully captivated by the story. The film lacked a sense of energy. Also, it was definitely too long and slow to develop. Certain scenes could have been cut out and just added to the DVD. Usually I like movies to be long but I felt that the lengthy time factor worked against it.

    Action (B): Action movies that are set in ancient or medieval times have always caught my interest mainly due to my love for history. When I see those types of movies the battle scenes and fighting styles have to be accurate. If they are not, you can expect people, myself included, to get pissed and call it crap. Movies like Gladiator, 300, Alexander, and Kingdom of Heaven correctly displayed the battle techniques used during those periods thus adding to the films authenticity. While Robin Hood’s plot may have not been the strongest I did like the battle scenes. The combination of archers, cavalry, and infantry proved to be England’s greatest strength during times of war. There was a decent amount of action throughout the story however I felt that battle scene at the end of the film was too short and anticlimactic. I don’t need a 25 minutes battle scene, but something a little more than 7 minutes works for me.

    Acting and Dialogue (B-): It goes without saying that Russell Crowe is a very good actor. His dedication to this role is clearly seen throughout the film. From his accent to his skill with the bow and arrow one must applaud his effort. Does Crowe have the same impact as he did in Gladiator? Certainly not. However, he correctly portrays a man who holds his morals very high. Cate Blanchett appropriately fitted the role of Marion: strong, stubborn, loyal, and a tender loving heart. I expected much more from Mark Strong. After seeing his villainous role as Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes I was confident that he would deliver as Godfrey, the Englishman who betrayed his country for France, however that was not the case. He came off a bit dull in my eyes but I think that was just his character. He probably would have been better for the role of King John although that would have meant even less screen time for him. Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Constant Gardener) who played King Richard was a delight to see. His acting was entertaining and properly gave life to man who has been dead for 811 years. What I thought was really funny about him was the way he looked. Huston looked extremely similar to the Lion from The Wizard of Oz after he got that makeover in palace…no joke. He sported long curly hair and thick beard. How appropriate if you think about it.

    Sex Appeal: N/A

    Director (B): Every time I watch a new Ridley Scott movie I know I’m in for some type of treat. His films range from being elaborately beautiful to simplistic and bloody. No matter what direction he decides to go in you can rest assure a good story will be told. Here’s a man who directed a variety of classics such as: Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, and Gladiator. These are only a fraction of the quality movies he has directed in his time and I feel ashamed not to mention them (I HIGHLY recommend Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage…HIGHLY). As usual Scott incorporated the same style of directing as he always does in these dramatic action films. The camera is up close and personal with the actors to provide a deeper connection with the audience. The battle scenes are properly filmed with a combination of wide aerial and ground shots. Due to my vast amount knowledge I did spot a carbon copy action scene from Gladiator and I felt that was a cop out. (If you care to know what it is just ask) As I mentioned earlier the film was a bit long…2 ½ hours to be exact. Still, Scott should be praised for his efforts.

    Overall: B-

  9. It shouldn’t have been called “Robin Hood.” Something in the title should’ve indicated that it’s more of a prequel than your led to believe by the trailers.

    The Robin pretending to be Robert because the father asked him is a clever plot device and a nice twist on the Robin Hood tale. They however loose my interest with a subplot involving Robin’s childhood and his relationship with his father. Then by consequence, Robin’s father’s relationship with Walter Locksley. It got very “Braveheart” and I really could’ve cared less. That whole subplot could’ve been taken out and the movie would’ve continued along just fine.

    The end of the movie reminded me of a combination of “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” A lot of attempted epic battles scenes that looked ripped off in the end. Plus, I didn’t know that England had aboriginals. Did Crowe and Blanchett bring them over from Australia? In the credits they’re listed as “feral children.” Haha.

    What I loved most about this movie was the lack of CGI. Ridley Scott might rely heavily on the “epic” battle scenes, but you can pretty much gaurantee that there are several actors (read stuntmen) performing the actions. That there really are boats in the water. That they are riding on real horses. Thank you Ridley Scott for making a movie with real people and locations. I’ve been missing that lately.

    Overall, this was a decent picture. You don’t get a real sense of time passing, so I thought the ‘I love you’ between Robin and Marion came a bit soon, but for all I know he was there months… It’s not as much like “Gladiator” as you think going in. That seemed to be a conscious thought by Scott as the “battle” scenes didn’t go as far as they could have. However there also wasn’t a great focus on character development. I didn’t really understand Robin’s motivation for anything: if he was supposed to be a straight up good guy or perhaps a little rakish and a scoundrel. He didn’t come across as a good mixture of either or clear cut as either one. Scott should’ve focused on one aspect (battles or characters) as he didn’t do a great job combining the two.

  10. I really liked the film, give it 5 stars. lots of action and never a dull moment.

    I like the twists in the story, – only thing, is that this film chanels zorro(banderas movie) – he pretends to be a noble man at the same time as he is a vigilante. I found it funny do :)

  11. I agree, it was a mediocre film at best. Why the hell would you turn the Merry Men into throw-away bit parts?

  12. In the 12 century, a lowly uneducated orphan peasant will rise to the occasion to champion democracy! This summer, in the blockbuster dissapointment of the year.. Robin Hood will receive the backstory you never heard, won’t believe, and didn’t ask for.

    It was junk. Good visuals, amazing setting, good actors, cool battles, but the story was rubbish.

  13. I thought this movie should have been rated R. I took my two tweens and it was not age appropriate. I have never seen a PG13 that was like this. The rating seemed to be given on virtue of the film title and not content. It was blood soaked, suggestive, and difficult to follow.

  14. Grechin Markblud seconded. Great technique, but a feather-brained storyline … it’s larger than life almost in a bollywood way. The story has lots of gaping holes. And of course, the Sheriff of Nottingham should have got more screen time.

  15. I was unsure whether I would like this film or not. Most of the critics seemed to say pretty much what Vic said above, but were more scathing.

    But I liked it, and gave it four stars out of five. I knew beforehand that it was a ‘prequel’ to the traditional legend, so was not disappointed in the departure from tradition.
    Russel Crowe was convincing, as were all the supporting actors. I must say I was relieved that his men were not too “merry”, and the film had a darker atmosphere more in keeping with modern historical films.

    I particularly liked the sweeping views of the English countryside as it must have been before we wrecked it all – small villages scattered among huge tracts of wilderness. There is a wonderful view of London — little more than a sea of huts clustered around the Tower of London.

    Although it is rated as a ’12′, the battle scenes are still good, but without the mandatory gushes of blood. The death of King Richard is very convincing and looks particularly painful!

    As long as you are prepared for a different storyline, I would recommend this film.

Be Social, Follow Us!!