Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Robin Hood: Movie Review

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Robin Hood: Movie Review

Article excerpt

This retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale is a somber, violence-heavy take that's slim on poetry or romance.

Do we really need another Robin Hood in the movies? From the high

points of Errol Flynn and Sean Connery to the low point of Kevin

Costner - Robin Hood as surfer dude - I think we've had quite

enough already. But never underestimate Hollywood's penchant for

revisionism - i.e., the recycling of old goods into new money. The

revisitionist bug has claimed Superman and Batman, so I guess Robin

Hood was inevitable. So let me put this another way: Do we really

need a revisionist Robin Hood?

After seeing Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," starring Russell

Crowe, I would unhesitantly answer that question in the negative. I

much prefer Mel Brooks's "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" to all

this doomy somberness. Why take the legend so seriously?

It would be different, I suppose, if Scott and his screenwriter

Brian Helgeland were trying for some kind of grand-scale epic a la

"Lawrence of Arabia." That wasn't merely an epic-sized film -

it was an epic of ideas. There are no big ideas knocking around in

"Robin Hood," no vision beyond the rudimentary: Life was really

really grim way back in AD 1199.

IN PICTURES: Past Robin Hoods

I'll say this much for Scott. He doesn't make it look as if the

Brits back then, not to mention the invading French, belonged to a

dental plan. One of my big complaints about historical movies is that

people are always sporting Pepsodent smiles. Not in "Robin Hood."

The not-so Merry Men, in particular, look as if they could use some

instruction in flossing.

In Scott's version of the Robin Hood legend, Robin Longstride is a

Briton serving with King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) during

the interminable Crusades. Fighting his way like a Zen archer through

France on his return from the Holy Land, he ends up in possession of

the killed king's crown and passes himself off as Sir Robert

Loxley, Nottingham's knight of the realm, to Richard's snivelling

successor King John (Oscar Isaac). …

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