by NIR SHALEV
Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is a prequel to the popular legend that we’re all familiar with. But because Robin Hood is a fictitious character Scott and his writing staff had decided upon tweaking the legend, allowing it to exist in a possible realistic world.
The film begins sometime during one of the Crusades and we meet Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), a soldier in King Richard’s army. He and his newfound soldier buddies tire of the war and decide to desert. As they do so they uncover a conspiracy to murder the king and deliver the crown to his son, John (Oscar Isaac). Richard is then killed (unlike in all other popular re-tellings of this story) and Robin Longstride pretends to be a man named Robin Loxley so that he can return to England in disguise and deliver the crown to its new king. From then on, he must continue to pretend to be Robin Loxley and husband to Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett), so that the real Loxley’s father Sir Walter (Max von Sydow) can continue to boast that his son Robin is back from the Crusades and that he’ll fight to keep their land. Longstride likes the new life he’d been given and eventually finds out how his actual father was friends with Sir Walter.
The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew MacFadyen) is nothing more than a nuisance, sort of a comic relief, and King John eventually becomes Longstride’s enemy due to a bit of evil politicking, his being an evil man. He pretends to be a man of reason and one that cares for the well being of his citizens but as we all know, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Ridley Scott is one of the best directors working in the business today. With a great body of work including Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Legend (1985), Thelma & Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), Matchstick Men (2003), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), and American Gangster (2007) one can easily tell that not only is he a diverse storyteller but a director that has outstanding visions. All of those films have one thing in common and it’s that they are all gorgeous looking films. Ridley Scott really cares about what his movies look like because the moving pictures must tell a story through images first and exposition much later. This film is no exception.
The editing here might be a tad too tight and one can tell that there was great interference on the production side. This could have a been an “R” rated film, an action epic with blood and guts like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven but instead it’s PG-13 at the most, and I think that this story could be told in a darker setting, seeing that Ridley Scott chose a more realistic setting to tell this age old tale. Regardless, it’s worth a watch and seeing that Longstride becomes Robin of the Hood in the final 10 minutes of the film I’d say that a sequel is in the works. Maybe not in the near future but a sequel does need to surface at some point. I liked this version of Robin Hood enough to want to see Longstride come back and kill more bad guys.
The DVD comes as a single disc, barebones release and a two-disc set that contains many special features. The Blu-ray version contains a nice Bonus View option called “Director’s Notebook,” with the theatrical version only; deleted scenes; editor Pietro Scalia’s optional commentary; “Rise and Rise Again,” an hour long behind-the-scenes documentary; a short feature called “Art of Nottingham;” and a “Marketing Archive.”
New releases this week: Babies, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, Get Him to the Greek, Iron Man 2