Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An early review of Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood"

These things can always end of up being fake, but with movies often holding test screenings earlier and earlier, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there has been at least one for what hopes to be one of the first blockbusters of the summer movie season. I'm quite excited for this film, and to hear it be compared to Gladiator and the lesser-but-still-good Kingdom of Heaven makes me happy; I love period action films, and for this one to start off with some solid early (real?) buzz is encouraging.


Hey just got back from the "Robin Hood" screening here in Las Vegas.

The most surprising thing about “Robin Hood” isn't really so surprising at all: Ridley Scott has made a variation on “Gladiator” that switches out swords and sandals for bows and arrows. Russell Crowe is back in fighting form (looks like he lost an entire person since “State of Play”) and takes his place where he belongs, playing a hero square in the middle of a big period action epic, bellowing orders, galloping on horseback and just generally kicking ass.

Forget the green tights, pulling on the sheriff version of “Robin Hood.” This is a dirty, brutal, muscular, serious origin story that introduces the characters we've seen in movies and read in books that only meets up with the familiar story literally in the last scene.

The story here is about an archer from the Crusades who assumes the identity of a fellow soldier who died on the field. Robin returns home to England and discovers a secret he never knew about his past which puts him on a path to help his country from a despotic king (btw, don’t know who plays King John but he’s awesome). The first two-thirds of the movie are about Robin figuring out his destiny and rallying the people together against King John’s thugs and the usual cast of characters starts to come together: the Merry Men, a tough Maid Marian (I don’t understand how Sienna Miller was ever supposed to play this role), the Sheriff of Nottingham, Friar Tuck.

The last third is an extended action sequence set at the edge of the sea as Robin and his countrymen face off against the invading French navy attempting to land and take over Britain. This is pure “Gladiator”/”Kingdom of Heaven” Ridley Scott with a lot of hand-to-hand combat. There’s another nice surprise: there doesn’t seem to be much of a reliance on computer imagery outside of that French navy. This is action on a huge scale made the old-fashioned way: armies of thousands, swords clanging off each other, arrows shooting through bodies, ships crashing on shore all staged right there on the beach, not in a computer.

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