Movies · Reviews

Robin Hood: 10 Things I Liked, 5 I Didn’t

By  · Published on May 16th, 2010

Editor’s Note: This article has what you might call SPOILERS and should not be read by anyone.

Film School Rejects is like any other big, dysfunctional family. Neil Miller is the dad, Cole Abaius is the mom, and the rest of us are the children of that illicit union. And like any family there are going to be fights, squabbles, and disagreements… the latest of which is in regards to dad’s recent review of Robin Hood. Like most of the blogosphere (and half of the mainstream critics) Miller isn’t a fan of Ridley Scott’s new film. At all. Robert Fure and I disagree with him, and while neither of us love the movie we both think it deserves a fairer shake than the D+ grade Miller awarded it.

10 Things I Liked:

10. The Villainous Mark Strong

Sure he’s played a villain in his last three roles, but actors should stick to their strengths and I thought he was cool here. [Fure]

9. Supporting Actors And Characters

We already highlighted Strong above, but I actually found much to like about several of the supporting characters and actors including Max Von Sydow as the blind old man, Oscar Isaac as the devious and slippery King John, and Matthew Macfadyen as the underused but humorously spineless Sheriff of Nottingham. [Hunter]

8. Realistic Slant Instead Of A Mischievous Romp

I don’t get why people bitch that this isn’t the legend. The real story takes nothing away from the legend. What did you want, dancing bears? [Fure]

7. The Merry Men

Kevin Durand is an awesome Little John (and a lot better suited for this role than he was for the recent Legion), Scott Grimes plays Will Scarlet for fantastic comic relief, and Alan Doyle… well he strums that little guitar like he was a born musician. The entire crew was cool even if they didn’t have enough to do. [Fure/Hunter]

6. Russell Crowe

Say what you will about his attitude, but he’s a good actor. And for all the obese non-Academy Award winning online people who call him portly, challenge him to a shirtless competition. Crowe is in shape here. [Fure]

5. Cate Blanchett

Fure knocks Blanchett’s visual appeal below, but I actually think she looks fantastic. Gorgeous, filthy, and quick with a retort is just how I like my lasses, and Blanchett makes the character far more appealing and engaging than any previous incarnation. Her final battle charge is stupid, but her overall spunk and personality is appreciated and entertaining. [Hunter]

4. Epic Final Battle Scene

What’s more exciting, an archery contest or two guys in armor sword fighting hip deep in the ocean while surrounded by chaos? Yes, these kinds of scenes seem better suited for a Kingdom of Heaven but they work in this grander version of the Robin Hood tale. The arrow assault from the cliff-side looks fantastic, the beach skirmish is sharp and gritty, and even if the carnage skirts closer to a PG than an R rating it’s still an epic action scene. [Fure/Hunter]

3. It’s An Origin Tale

It stands apart from most of the other versions because it’s different. If this was just another Robin Hood movie filled with every last familiar bit we’ve already seen a hundred times people would be bitching about how unoriginal it is. You can only have it one way… the same old same old or the unfamiliar new. Robin Hood may not have needed an origin, but at least it’s a fresh take on the story with events and scenes we’ve never seen before. [Fure/Hunter]

2. Archery Nods

Sure, there is no big contest, but Robin uses his bow often and makes two incredible shots and several other impressive ones. [Fure]

1. Ridley Scott Makes Fantastic-Looking Movies

Regardless of any issues the film may or may not have, the one common point of agreement is that the movie is incredibly well-made and beautifully shot. The scale is large, the scenery and locales are gorgeous and believable, the weapons and wardrobe are authentic-looking, and the action is well-choreographed and entertaining. The reason it keeps getting compared to Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven isn’t just because Scott directed both of them… it’s because he’s almost the only director making these kinds of movies anymore. John Woo’s Red Cliff fits the mold, but Scott may be it for the Hollywood crowd. [Hunter]

5 Things I Didnt Like:

5. Cate Blanchett Looking Ugly

My stance on ugly chicks in film is well known. I want none of them. Hot her up or hire someone else. [Fure]

4. The First Hour Ramble

For everything I did like about the movie, it’s definitely too long and somewhat disjointed. The film’s first hour is the biggest problem in that area as it tosses names and locations at the audience with little semblance of a structure or point. The story and characters start to come together better after that, but it’s slow going at first. [Hunter]

3. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck

For a serious movie, this guy is far too much of a cartoon character to be here in any capacity. [Fure]

2. Godfrey’s Death At The End Of Robin’s Shaft

Remember, we did post a spoiler warning at the top of this article… but you shouldn’t be surprised that Strong’s bad guy dies anyway. My problem though is in the way he dies. After a fierce sword fight on the beach with Robin Hood, Godfrey retreats on horseback and attempts to get away. Robin takes aim at the retreating man, and fires off an arrow that impales Godfrey through the back of the neck. It’s an awesome shot, and maybe it’s just me, but I prefer my heroes to actually be heroic. And that means not shooting someone in the back. [Hunter]

1. Feral Children And The Shetland Brigade

Simply put, what the fuck? Why the fuck would Marion lead children into battle? Are the French so pathetic they couldn’t even slaughter wee babes on ponies? It’s bad enough the little bastards sit on the fringe of the story for over two hours without getting their narrative due, but watching them charge into battle on tiny horses was laughably ridiculous. [Fure/Hunter]

So there you go. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is almost as far from being a great movie as it is from being a disaster. It’s a bit bloated, it avoids the moments we all know and love from past Robin Hood movies, and there are more than a few questionable narrative choices throughout… but it’s also beautiful and well-made, filled with fantastic actors, and it features some solid action scenes both big and small. If Fure and I were to agree on a grade it would probably be a B- or so, and if you like Scott and/or Crowe you should definitely check it out in theaters. If you don’t… I’d suggest a rental in about six months time.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.