Opening 13 May 2010
Ridley Scott (Gladiator) directs Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) as Robin, Cate Blanchett (LOTR, Elizabeth) as Marion, and William Hurt (Into the Wild, Vantage Point) as William Marshall in a new take on the Robin Hood legend. The screenplay is by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River).
As in previous (but not all) versions of Robin Hood, the legend is set in the time of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) and his brother and successor King John (Oscar Isaac). In this adaptation, Robin's true name is Longstride. He is an accomplished bowman, who witnesses the death of King Richard in the battlefields of France. On his way back to England with a few comrades in arms, he rescues Richard's crown from an ambush and, in the process, promises to return the dying Robert Loxley's sword to his father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow). After returning the crown, Robin sets off to Nottingham to fulfil his promise. Sir Walter is very taken by the gesture and asks him to step into his son's shoes, in part also to secure the future of Robert's widow, Lady Marion: thus, Robin Longstride becomes Robert Loxley. At first Marion is wary of Robin's motivations, but gradually recognises that he is a champion for the rights of the poor and downtrodden. However, before he can really get down to making changes for the better, England is threatened by an invasion from King Philip II of France. As Robert Loxley, Robin manages to convince the Barons of Britain to put aside their intended revolt against King John and support the monarch in protecting the country. After successfully repelling the French, John goes back on his word to grant the Barons more rights and declares Robin an outlaw. The legend is born...
While there is no proof that Robin Hood actually existed, the film makers have made a significant effort to recreate a more accurate picture of England at the end of Richard's and the beginning of John's reigns. The country was in a mess, burdened by heavy taxes to pay for Richard's crusades to the Holy Land and battles in France. John only made things worse, which finally led to the rebellious barons forcing him to seal the Magna Carta in 1215.
With the competent kind of acting one would expect from such a cast, Ridley Scott's new version of Robin Hood is well conceived and crafted. It is more historically accurate and gives little space for swashbuckling archery stunts, unlikely romanticism or comic relief. Consequently, it does not really qualify as family entertainment. (Osanna Vaughn)