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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Russell Crowe
Cate Blanchett
Mark Strong
Alan Doyle
Scott Grimes
Kevin Durand
Danny Huston
Oscar Isaac.
Directors
Ridley Scott.
Screenwriters
Running Time
144 minutes

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Robin Hood
The new-look outlaw takes a bow. A bow. Oh, please yourself


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Plot
1199. As Richard The Lionheart (Danny Huston) returns from the Third Crusade, both he and his right-hand man, Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), are slain in France. It’s left to one of their archers, Robin Longstride (Crowe), to return Richard’s crown to London and Loxley’s sword to Nottingham. There, compelled to pose as Loxley, Longstride finds himself embroiled in Plantagenet politics — and has to tackle a French plot abetted by the traitorous Sir Godfrey (Strong)…


Review
Robin Hood
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When was the last time you saw a big, action-packed movie that felt like it belonged in its summer-release slot yet didn’t treat you like a 13 year-old boy? That had a coherent story, a zinging script, a confident edit, restrained use of visual effects and didn’t stink like an extended advert for its own merchandise? Last year’s Public Enemies doesn’t count; that was only a ‘summer movie’ by virtue of a bizarre scheduling brain-fart. Which leaves us with… The Dark Knight.

Now, comparing Rid ’n’ Russ’ bold take on the Robin Hood legend with Christopher Nolan’s towering crime epic is perilous; rather too much expectation inflation. But it really does feel like this is the first time since that movie that we’ve managed to get the sunshine without the lollipops. If you will.

Perhaps a more sober comparison is Sherlock Holmes. Both films take an icon on the fringes of fiction (we’d wager many think Holmes is as historical a character as Hood), both offer a fresh spin (no mean feat in either case), and both cast Mark Strong as the villain who isn’t the villain — just as he wasn’t Holmes’ Moriarty, here he is neither Prince John nor The Sheriff Of Nottingham… or even Guy Of Gisborne, poor chap.

There’s one more Holmes/Hood similiarity: they’re both… fun. Oh yes. For all the blah of ‘Gladiator with bows’ (guilty as charged), the fifth Crowe-Scott collaboration is a much airier affair, the one-time Maximus here employing more of the twinkle we saw in Master And Commander or State Of Play than the scowl that so often defines his work.

Crowe’s Robin is dignified, assured, and his only flaw is his tactless honesty — yielding one very amusing visual punchline. Yet he’s not humourless or simmering with bloody, vengeful intent. Rather, dumped via a well-handled plot contrivance (which has a strangely satisfying Sommersby vibe) into the sticky web of late 12th-century aristo-politics, Robin’s the bluff, simple-but-not-stupid yeoman with bluff, simple ideals: “Honest, brave and naive. There’s an Englishman,” notes King Richard (Danny Huston) handily.

But for the big laughs you do have to look elsewhere. The three Merry Men — never referred to as such, thankfully — wisecrack accordingly, and there’s a true sense of bonhomie with Robin, aided no doubt by the fact that Kevin Durand, Alan Doyle and Scott Grimes are Crowe’s real-life pals.

Then there’s the bad guys, by which we mean the bad guys: Oscar Isaac’s Prince-then-King John and Matthew Macfadyen’s Sheriff Of Nottingham. Neither play as centrally antagonistic a role as Strong’s scarred, dark-eyed Sir Godfrey, but you’ll remember them more. Macfadyen’s Sheriff is hilariously sidelined (is it an accident that he resembles Alan Rickman’s 1991 showstealer, only shabbier?), and you can count his screentime in minutes on one hand, but he slithers like the best of them.

Isaac, though, is this Robin Hood-movie’s showstealer. Oozing with decadence and burning with ambition, his John is every inch an Edmund Blackadder, right down to those tight, black curls and manicured facial hair. It’s a superb performance, containing the kind of deliciously sour detail you rarely see in a movie with a ‘family’ rating: after being interrupted in flagrante with a bit of “French pastry” by his mother, Eleanor Of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins), he responds to her lecture by dismissively plucking what we can only assume to be a pubic hair from his tongue.

Back-on-form scripter Brian Helgeland isn’t afraid to give John all the best lines, either. After Eleanor compares the new king’s punitive taxation policy to milking a dried teat he sneers, “Spare us your farming memories, mother. They’re not real, and I don’t understand them.” You’d cheer if you weren’t booing.

Unlike its hero, Robin Hood is by no means flawless. While the plot skews older, the action, right up to the roaring, climactic Dover-beach clash, is notably bloodless — that old rating compromise. The accents, meanwhile, suffer from Hollywood Drift (Crowe’s goes from Leeds to Sheffield via Edinburgh — although anything’s better than Kevin Costner’s “Notting-ham” drawl). It’s also worth noting that this is very much an ‘origin story’: by the time Robin and co. settle down in Sherwood to assume Sheriff-confounding duties, the credits roll. On the plus-side, though, it certainly leaves you wanting more. To further stretch the Batman comparisons, you could call it Robin Begins.


Verdict
Grown-up but not too serious; action-packed but not juvenile… Not only is this the mullet-free Robin Hood movie we’ve been waiting decades for, it’s also Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe at their most entertaining since Gladiator.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Robin Hood
Empire Star Rating

Robin Hood Review

A fantastic prequel to the legendary hero that boast some fine performances and some gripping action sequences and both Scott and Crowe are at their most entertaining since Gladiator. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 13:32, 14 February 2012 | Report This Post


Thrilless...

Despite an interesting start, this is tiresomely long and uneventful lacking any particular drive. Russell Crowe's accent is a little distracting and his dry acting style robs him of any charisma or anything interesting. The whole production may feel quality but its just plain dull and the entire middle section incredibly forgetable. Caught somewhere between recapturing the fun adventure and a dark historical thriller, it doesnt really know which to become. Unfortunately more of the later would ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 22:36, 12 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

Just caught some of this on Sky Premiere. Absolute rubbish is probably the most polite way of putting it. None of the character were particularly compelling, the rebooted back story is totally needless and not one of the actors could pick an accent and stick to it. Russell Crowe went from Aussie to Irish to Welsh to Scottish to Liverpudlian in one conversation at one point. The action scenes were pretty decent but I couldn't force myself through the rest of it. 1/5 ... More

Posted by chilipenguin at 12:11, 27 March 2011 | Report This Post


Average. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:37, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


RE: bad bad movie

i disagree it should be about action then more action, nothing happened in this movie it was so dull, well thats my opinion. ridley scott is good at boring lately though see also a good year and body of lies zzzzzzzzz ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vinnyjones at 14:23, 13 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: bad bad movie

I wouldn't say it's boring Vinny - Welcome to the Forum BTW - We're just so used to Robin Hood being about action then more action, a few dastardly words from the sheriff of Nottingham and green tights! ... More

Posted by Sphinx at 19:53, 12 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: What's the big deal?

L: Sphinx Firstly, it's Ridley Scott and he rarely screws things up A good Year being a curious exception....and I for one like Legend. Secondly the critics savaging the accent was't really called for. So crowe's voicebox wanders up the Tyne, then through the yorkshire dales with one, ONE detour to Dublin - quite a few actors are guilty of that. Cate Blanchett is reliable and very feminist in her portrayal as Marion, Max Von Sydow well is Max Von Sydow. I liked the idea of Robin bei... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 09:19, 09 October 2010 | Report This Post


What's the big deal?

Firstly, it's Ridley Scott and he rarely screws things up A good Year being a curious exception....and I for one like Legend. Secondly the critics savaging the accent was't really called for. So crowe's voicebox wanders up the Tyne, then through the yorkshire dales with one, ONE detour to Dublin - quite a few actors are guilty of that. Cate Blanchett is reliable and very feminist in her portrayal as Marion, Max Von Sydow well is Max Von Sydow. I liked the idea of Robin being this jaded hired... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sphinx at 00:45, 09 October 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not my cup of tea

L: vad3r Scott has only made 3 good films. No point guessing which 3 those are. Everything else he's made could literally be made by any director and you couldn't even tell. And of course that they're boring, bland and just poor. sp; In my opinion he's made 2 great films (Alien, Blade Runner), 4 excellent ones (The Duelists, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise and Black Hawk Down), and quite a few films that have been very decent. I'd say he's made only 3 stinkers; GI Jane, White Squall ... More

Posted by Jasper_29 at 14:14, 26 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not my cup of tea

Scott has only made 3 good films. No point guessing which 3 those are. Everything else he's made could literally be made by any director and you couldn't even tell. And of course that they're boring, bland and just poor. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 02:33, 26 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Not my cup of tea

times new roman"]are that from now on, Ridley Scott, for directing the utterly boring, joyless mess that is Robin Hood and successfully making a film worse than Hannibal, G:I Jane and more misjudged than 1492: Conquest of Paradise, to be declared an OUTLAAAAAAAAAAW! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Deviation at 03:08, 25 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

I had a good time with the flick. Fun and exciting. A bullseye. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kazuya at 17:56, 24 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

I can see why people didn't like this film but for me I found it very entertaining. I found the direction to be brilliant and some of the scenes were very well put together, but my only problem is cate blanchett I have yet to see a film where she impresses me. She looked bored most of the time in the filbunny that aside everyone else was brilliant. Will definitely be purchasing on blu-ray come pay day. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rocky5780 at 09:20, 24 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

just watched the Director's Cut on HD Blu-Ray and thoroughly enjoyed it!! great direction, beautifully shot and looked fantastic in HD the political wranglings of King and country, mesh well with the story of Robin Hood a great alternative take on the Robin Hood story which is very fresh as an "origin" rather than a re-hash of the merry men in the forest depiction that previous Robin Hood films have stuck to definitely one to add to my HD collection a solid 4/5 from me ... More

Posted by hampstead bandit at 20:24, 18 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

A good film, but not breathtaking. I thought Cate Blanchett was an interesting choice as the love interest. I've not read the book personally, but I'd never see her as Maid Marian - nonetheless, it worked well ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by velpix at 17:59, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Gladiator this is not (Oh and a mild spoiler)

it's okay but what the fk was up with Crowe's liverpulian, Scottish, irish and other unrecognizable mish mash of accents that changed every 2 minutes ... More

Posted by kargon at 14:26, 03 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: re: Robin Hood

I doubt 17 mins could improve this mediocre movie much, but you never know..... ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 15:11, 25 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: re: Robin Hood

Robin Hood will get a Director's Cut when it is released on Blu Ray / DVD in October:   www.schnittberichte.com/news.php?ID=2101p; Unofficial sources say 17 more minutes. ... More

Posted by grucl at 09:01, 25 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: re: Robin Hood

This was the first movie I'd caught in a while due to the football taking up most of my viewing time, but no 12.30 games meant I could catch an early showing before the England match, and what better film to get you in the mood for it?! I thought this was great fun, how anyone could describe it as boring is beyond me. I was worried it might be a tad similar to Kingdom Of Heaven in tone, (now I was slightly bored by that!), but my fears were quickly dispelled. 4 Stars and bring on the next ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 11:25, 24 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

overrated, disappointing, just like the gladiator... come ON Cate BLanchett, why did u choose THIS MOVIE!!! ... More

Posted by thescout at 17:56, 03 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: woah....

Overwrought film, too grainy and just... dull. Ridley Scott can do better! Even if I was expecting a lot after orshould have at least been a great film. But no, oodortunately average. ] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 21:05, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

That could be a great movie! Not with the people behind this one though! ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 23:09, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

L: Timon We have seen that story countless times and this is meant to be the 'Story Behind the Legend' and it that regard, it's fantastic. It's great to see a new take on such material and seeing as Robin Hood is a legend, then you can essentially do whatever the hell you want with the character. sp; Exactly. p; It's not as if there were any defintive Robin Hood stories. What was exciting about Scott's version is that he took a lead from that fact, thought about what might hav... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 19:22, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

L: Axel Foley L: MoBiUGeArSkIn ... Fucking Awesome!!! I was right about those trailers, they do a shit job selling Ridley's Hood. There is dialogue taken out of context, that ridiculous "are you ready to be who you are?" line is nowhere to be seen. "I declare him AN OUTLAW!" Sure you do... in the last ten minutes of the film! This isn't Robin Hood as you know it and it actually works as a genesis movie. This basically leads into the "robbing from the rich" story w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Timon at 10:09, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Robin Hood

Mixed feelings about this...loved the first hour.  Really action packed; some brilliant scenes.  However the film dragged for me once Robin Hood got back to Nottingham.  Infact there was a really large section where he wasn't involved in the main action.  Thus you had scenes with King John, Godfrey and William Hurts character with dull scenes of Robin trying to adjust to domestic life and whole flashbacks to his father, which were done too many times IMO. The best thing... More

Posted by princessa at 20:26, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


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