The story of Robin Hood has been retold many times in a variety of forms. Walt Disney's Robin Hood was a feature-length animated depiction of the titular character as a roguish anthropomorphic fox, while Ridley Scott's gritty epic of the same name featured Robin as a veteran returning home from the crusades. There have been plenty of adaptations in the near-40 years between these two examples, but Scott's revisionist take is a potential low point. It maintains a meager 43% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with complaints that it lacked the sense of thrill and adventure synonymous with the character. Undisturbed by this, Lionsgate is attempting another gritty retelling of the iconic folk story with Robin Hood: Origins.
Origins' star-studded cast includes Kingsman prodigy Taron Egerton as a young Robin Hood, Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx as Little John, and in-form villain Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as the deplorable Sheriff of Nottingham. However, producer Basil Iwanyk believes that Robin Hood: Origins is a worthwhile venture beyond the pedigree of its cast.
The producer discussed so much during an interview with Collider, offering the following food for thought about Robin Hood: Origins in the process:
"Exempting the killer cast, I feel that it captures the adventure and the fun and the spirit of Robin Hood, but because it’s the origin story—it’s a kid going off to war thinking he’s going on a great Crusade, and realizing it’s all bullshit and coming back with some PTSD and realizing he’s been lied to, and coming back to kind of a fractured society that doesn’t really accept him and realizing, ‘Okay the super rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.’ You could describe that now. What Joby Harold, our writer, was able to do is make it feel very allegorical and very contemporary, and feel youthful but not youthful in a YA way, youthful in a kind of, the anger, the energy, what people when they were 25 feel, without it being pandering like ‘Look, we’re the young version of the movie!"
He went on to discuss how the stunt work of the movie was inspired by the Keanu Reaves-led hit John Wick:
"The images of Robin Hood, the imagery we have, the production design, the stunt work that we’re doing—a lot of it was inspired by the John Wick stunt work. The stuff we’re doing with the bow and arrow, it’s the same thing that Keanu does with the gun. The costumes, it just feels different than any other Robin Hood we had."
Admittedly, Iwanyk's comments about a relevant and youthful approach to the story in Robin Hood: Origins don't necessarily suggest the film will bring anything that new to the tried and tested Robin Hood formula. Ridley Scott's own Robin Hood epic took a similar approach after all, albeit with an older version of its iconic protagonist.
That said, Iwanyk's reference to John Wick, one of 2014's's best surprises, is reason enough to consider another trip to Sherwood Forest. The action romp John Wick maintained a sense of fun without sacrificing the often hard-hitting violence of its criminal underworld. Its stunts were visceral and outrageous, as were the characters populating its original world. If Lionsgate's excellent cast can capture that same spirit, then Robin Hood: Origins might have something different to offer after all.
- Robin Hood (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018