Movie Review: Robinhood

Making a movie set in medieval times takes a lot of effort and a lot of balancing acts – you overdo it, and the movie becomes a silly comedy; on the other hand, putting less effort makes it look like a cheap shot. 
Robin Hood succeeds in giving us a new take on the legend’s life, focusing primarily in his part in the crusades of Richard the Lionheart, how he met Maid Marion, and how his band of Merry Men started.

Director Ridley Scott’s take on this legend takes more from the more recent stories surrounding Robin Hood from the 14th to 15th centuries – here he is depicted as the son of a former nobleman, instead of the commoner depicted in the stories from way back in the 11th century. However, he does succeed in portraying Robin Hood as a sympathetic character, and the film focuses on his personal life rather than his legend as an outlawed bandit.

Given that the two leads are both Oscar winners (Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett), one is almost guaranteed of a solid performance; even the supporting cast does very well and one would love to hate Godfrey (Mark Strong), the traitorous Englishman conniving with the French, and Prince John, later King (Oscar Isaac), who borders on stupidity to craziness.

But perhaps the strongest point of the movie is its cinematography – each village, each scene has that genuine feel and transports you to medieval Europe; indeed, each dollar of its $200M budget is well spent on lavish sets (that is, after you deduct the expected ginormous salaries of its main stars and its director).

However, at almost two and a half hours, this movie has moments when you just want to yawn and curl to sleep; in fact, I almost wanted to slip out of the cinema within the first thirty minutes because while there were action sequence playing out in front of me, it took a good deal of time to establish how Robin Hood was fighting in the crusades and how he ended up going home. The build-up of the story took a much longer focus than the actual story. And that is its fatal flaw.

Still, I would recommend this movie if only for the scenery and the maniacal Godfrey and King John – and little John, whom I also found hilarious. But I won’t expect another Robin Hood in the next twenty years.

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