This week I was a bit nonplussed to see Robin Hood. The reviews were lukewarm and it just all seemed to be getting very little buzz. Thankfully the movie deserves a better fate than that. The first thing to know is that the previews are entirely misleading. If you’re expecting a re-telling of the classic 1938 Errol Flynn version then this isn’t it. What we get here is a prequel and, just like I said above, such efforts tend to appeal to me more.
While it’s far from perfect it is a very enjoyable, if a bit long, movie in its own right. There’s not a bad acting effort to be found. Russell Crowe does a wonderful job as Robin. He brings a fresh, but entirely engrossing, persona to the role. It’s definitely not your grandfather’s Robin Hood. Max von Sydow is always great to see. Here, in fact, his role parallels that of Alec Guinness‘ effort in the first Star Wars. Robin’s various “Merry Men” are all present and do a commendable job. The antagonists all, likewise, turn in strong performances. However, without a doubt, the stand-out of the entire film is Cate Blanchett who manages to steal the entire movie. Every time she’s onscreen your interest picks up another notch. She manages to create wonderful chemistry between Lady Marion and Robin. She also brings a much-needed, but subtle, comedic element.
Also worth mentioning are the efforts of Elaine Atkins and William Hurt as Queen Eleanor and William Marshall.
I always wince when writers re-imagine elements of classic stories and often I can’t be sure who is being more true to the original. Here, several elements most of us have come to know as the norm have been dramatically altered and it remains to be seen if it’s for the better.
The bottom line for this film is that it’s essentially one of the longest previews you’re going to encounter. It’s all very much a lead setup for another film. The big question I have is, will we get that film? Crowe doesn’t have it listed in his upcoming work schedule and nothing has been said about it that I’ve seen. I’ll be very disappointed if this is all we get as time and again you’re continually evoking how all their elements and approaches would play out in later scenes that never come.