May 23, 2010

Robin Hood- I’d rather wait for the sequel !!

As I stepped in the theater last weekend with a large bucket of popcorn in my hand, I expected to see a feel-good familiar tale of everyone’s favorite childhood hero Robin Hood who robs the rich to give to the poor. I expected a tale full of adventure and comedy and goodness and above all, fun! Sadly enough, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is none of those. Instead it is a gritty, overly serious epic all jazzed up with brilliant technology. Well, we already knew that the terrific duo of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe could deliver “epic”- after all, their impeccable history speaks for itself ! But where their vision faltered, was in not giving this brilliantly shot film a “soul” and a bit of “merry”- after all, isnt that why we fell in love with that vagabond thief in the first place?

Robin Hood is played by Russel Crowe with an extremely serious, and grouchy expression, often times appearing uninterested- definitely NOT the merry, and more importantly, the inspiring Robin Hood I anticipated! I think the first hint of a smile appeared on his face after three fourth of the movie was over! The film is set in the England of 12th century where our hero is an expert archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston). The plot is extremely convoluted (sometimes appearing like a documentary) where the English are fighting the French. After the King dies, Robin Longstride assumes the identity of a nobleman to bring back the crown to the future King John, the tax-happy brother of Richard (played superbly by Oscar Isaac).

Robin also has another mission to accomplish- return the sword to the dead nobleman’s blind father (von Sydow) in Nottingham. There he meets the nobleman’s widow, the proud and fiesty Lady Marian played brilliantly by Cate Blanchett. This is where you see the phenomenol actors that Crowe and Blanchett really are! Their scenes together can only be defined in one word- Awesomeness! The climax battle scenes are perfectly shot -quite muddy and bloody! Quite a cinematic experience seeing those aerial shots of the English and French armies and all the arrow wizardry going on! But with a runtime of 140 minutes, by the time the movie reached its climax after a long winding history lesson, my popcorn was all gone and I was more than ready to leave! The last few scenes show Robin Hood as an outlaw- FINALLY!

In the end, the movie just attempts doing too much- an epic revisionist drama with a complex political narrative but ends up being a heavy mishmash of a not-so-engaging tale. It has been accurately described as a story behind the legend- a prequel to the story we all know and love. I left the theater wishing I had waited for the sequel instead!!