Thursday, 3 June 2010

Robin Hood

After the jury began splitting over the goodness (or terribleness) of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood I began wondering just what I was expecting when I listed it as my #4 most anticipated film of the year. sure, I’m enamoured with Miss Blanchett (who isn’t) and though I’d say that Crowe has been snubbed by awards too often in recent years I don’t particularly love him. True, I did read the original script for the then titled Nottingham but with all the changes made that was an entirely different beast. Naturally I was disappointed with the tepid response, thus my expectations were somewhat lowered. I expected less and watching Robin Hood I got less.
Half an hour into Robin Hood two things truck me. The first was more obvious, I was feeling bored. However, more than this, I found myself remembering a book on screenwriting I’d read a few years ago. Sid Field had said that it’s always good to have a back-story to your screenplay so you’d know what happened to the characters just before the credits roll. She went on to say that sometimes writers like their back-stories so much they end up using it as part of the screenplay. Herein lies one of Robin Hood’s earliest issues. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland seems to be altogether too fond of his work and he chooses to open the movie forty minutes before it actually begins. It’s not that the running time is outrageous, but it feels like a chore. Note, I watched this the same day as the 190 minute Doctor Zhivago (my review), and I didn’t look at my watch once during that one. Even more he has a tendency to write some blandly expository dialogue that even Cate Blanchett (she thrives on those exposition passages usually) falters at times. It’s actually what does in Oscar Isaac who I was impressed with in Agora. Ridley Scott, or Helgeland or maybe Isaac himself seem so enamoured with making John a lascivious villain that he spends half the film shouting inane lines in a VERY LOUD VOICE. Pass.
And yet, don’t think I’m trashing Robin Hood because as it picks up I find myself charmed by its machinations. I’ve heard more than a few persons recognise Scott’s skill with battles, but I’d have preferred if he’d tried to make Robin Hood an introspective character study than an amalgamation of what we’ve seen before. The entire point of rebooting the series depends on it offering something different. Hence, it’s the new portrayal of Maid Marian that stands out in this incarnation. Yes, I am unfairly biased to Cate. It is what it is, but it’s a register that I like her in. She’s not as irrepressible as Kate or formidable as Elizabeth, but the toned down but nonetheless strong woman is something she plays excellently. It’s not her best, by any means, but her decision to show bits of emotion at the strangest parts turns her Marian into the most realistic portrayal of the film. Sure, it ends with a somewhat misguided monologue from her but the almost chaste attraction between Hood and Marian work. Marian is past her prime, and more than a heated romance she wants a man she can finally depend on and stand by. Thus Ridley’s decision, to make it less about the physical and more about the intellectual, works for me.
            
More than any film Robin Hood thrives with the promise of what could have been…but I’ll put the possibilities out of my mind. Robin Hood is imperfect, but in its own way it was divertingly charming. Certainly not the comeback Scott and Crowe were looking for, and after a year and a half without Cate I’m unsatisfied. Still, they could do worse. I came in expecting less, but I didn't get nothing.
              
B- [almost a C+, but not quite]

13 comments:

Jose said...

I love Cate too but the way the screenplay turns Marion into a hybrid of Arwen and Kate Hepburn are enough to make sure not even Blanchett herself can save her.

Ross McG said...

fair mark. not the best movie ever but good fun

Robert said...

I wanted to see this because of Cate but the critics kind of turned me away since these movies aren't my favorite anyway. However, I'll probably still check it out!

Castor said...

Not a great movie by any means but certainly entertaining enough especially once it starts picking some steam. Happy to see you enjoyed Cate's performance!

Luke said...

A very honest review. I haven't yet seen it (and haven't decided if I'll subject myself to it yet), but you've made me at least see the redeeming qualities in it. I mean, I'm kind of a big fan of the '70s Disney version, so if it's anything like that... :)

Heather said...

I enjoyed the back story, something I will probably like more upon a second or third viewing, but I agree that it weighed it down, especially in the way it was structured and paced. I enjoyed it a bit more than you, but I also found the relationship of Robin and Marion to be the most enjoyable and tangible part of the film. The ending was a bit melodramatic, but it needed to end on an overly high note maybe.

I LOVE OSCAR ISAAC. Just sayin. :)

Runs Like A Gay said...

Stodgy and a strange mix of historical detail and ludicris anacronisms.

The worst thing is everyone involved can do so much better, why didn't they at least try?

Alex in Movieland said...

oh, I'm waiting for that winter screener to see this :)

Walter L. Hollmann said...

It's an ironing movie. Good enough to watch, but you're not missing anything if you choose to iron at the same time.

Dan Stephens said...

You're not the first to mention the slow, tedious start. But Ridley Scott has never been one to rush things. However, I'm guessing the difference between this and the quicker pace of Prince of Thieves is turning some people off.

Top10Films/co.uk

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose kate, arwen AND eowyn. her appearance at the battle did make me do a little eye roll.

ross good fun when it's not trying too hard.

robert looking forward to what your thoughts will be.

castor but i suppose me liking cate is a given...

luke you and your animation!

heather glad i'm not the only one liking the cate/russell dynamic. [well then, maybe that ass shot of isaac was for you :)]

runs like a gay that is the worst thing. they can all do so much better.

alex ouch!

walter and ouch again. (i love that comment!)

dan i don't think it's really scott's fault, he tries to make it as visual as possible but helgeland isn't really helping him much.

CrazyCris said...

I think it would have worked better had it not been a Robin Hood story but just an epic tale from the Middle Ages... lacked the whimsy I like to see in my Robins! ;o)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

crazy cris i love that concept.