starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Mark Addy, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Devin Durand, Matthew Macfadyen, Eileen Atkins and Max Von Sydow
screenplay by Brian Helgeland
directed by Ridley Scott
It was okay, but doesn’t surpass previous Robin Hood movies. I was surprised because the story did not dwell on Robin and his Merry Men living as outlaws in Sherwood Forest. Instead, that’s where the movie ends. Before that comes 2½-hours of not uninteresting story telling about early 13th century England almost up to the time of the Magna Carta of 1215. (Remember, it is the same evil King John, younger brother of crusading King Richard the Lionheart, who was forced to acknowledge basic rights in written form by signing the Magna Carta at Runneymede on June 15, 1215. Who can forget?)
There have been dozens of Robin Hood movies from the silent movies to the present, television movies, and TV series. These three are the ones that impressed me the most:
1) Robin and Marian (1976) directed by Richard Lester, starring Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn and Robert Shaw
2) Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) directed by Kevin Reynolds, starring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, with a cameo by Sean Connery
3) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighly, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
The 1938 Errol Flynn movie is exceedingly silly by today’s standards, but it’s legendary and as a little boy I enjoyed it. Who doesn’t? No Robin Hood movie, though, surpasses the 1976 Dick Lester film starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hephurn. I have watched it repeatedly. One of the things that attracts me to it is the bright yellow light that suffuses every daylight scene. Lester used a similar lighting effect in The Three Musketeers: The Queen’s Diamonds (1973, with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch and Richard Chamberlain). So I love watching both these movies if for no other reason than because they are pleasant to look at and make me feel warm. (John Sturges achieved the same lighting effect in his 1963 movie The Great Escape, starring Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen. It is just a pleasant movie to look at.)
Russell Crowe looks pretty good. But I can’t figure him. In movies like Gladiator (2000) and Robin Hood he looks pretty buff with his shirt off. But when I see photos of him in magazines or newspapers he looks a little chubby. What does the real Russell Crowe look like? Maybe he is naturally heavy but then trains up and slims down for movie roles.
Mark Addy, appearing as Friar Tuck, steals almost every scene he’s in. Good for him! I’ve also seen Addy in The Full Monty (1997), and A Knight’s Tale (2001). I almost confuse him with actor Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, 2007).