Originally, this began as some weird thing called Nottingham (that was, in fact, the original entry tag I had for news about it), where Russell Crowe was going to play both Robin Hood and the Sheriff, and at one point it was supposedly a multiple personalities thing; there may have been another point when it was just a "one actor, two characters" thing. Then they were talking about just doing the story from the Sheriff's point of view, where Robin Hood is basically this marauding serial killer shooting up the Sheriff's men and stealing all his rightfully-collected tax money (which at least would be interesting and unique, as retellings of the legend go, and probably have a satisfyingly tragic ending), and rumors went around that they were talking about Christian Bale playing Robin Hood. That, obviously, did not happen. Although they probably could have just filmed the on-set brawls that would have broken out between Christian Bale and Russell Crowe and sold tickets to that. This summer, phones will fly! IN 3-D.
What I saw today was, instead, a fairly serviceable "historically accurate" fantasy about a Crusader with a Past, one "Robin Longstride," who wore a hood once or twice and pretended to be married to Lady Secret Widow Marian so she wouldn't lose her land, leading the English to defeat those dirty, dirty French with a rallying cry of "
(By the way: if historical accuracy is important to you, you will have an aneurysm in the first ten minutes of the movie, when Richard dies in battle. Which not only is that not how it happened, but most Robin Hood legends are about Robin holding down the fort, so to speak, against Prince John until a glorified fantasy version of Richard comes home to England and sets things right. I mean, I'm not terribly miffed about this, because it's not like Richard was even like that, or that Robin Hood was real; I'm just always amused by "historically accurate" This Is How It REALLY Happened retellings of legends that do not, in fact, have anything to do with How It Really Happened. And poor Danny Huston, this is the second movie in a row I've seen where he only gets five minutes of screentime.)
Here is my actual problem with the movie, Crazycakes Version: I am a huge Robin Hood fangirl. I grew up on the Disney version with the foxes, which was awesome and I will hear nothing against it. Everyone who wants to fangirl Robin Fox has to get in line behind me. And Fox Maid Marian was pretty awesome, but I also really, really like Olivia de Havilland (see icon) in the role. Okay, generally the Errol Flynn version is fantastic all around, and I'm rambling. Alan Rickman is my favorite Sheriff because I was twelve years old when that movie came out and I was kind of obsessed with it once it hit cable because SHUT UP, and Alan Rickman is the one part of that movie I can look back on and not totally hate myself about. Because he is awesome.
You know what all three of these movies have in common? Everyone hanging out in the forest having fun, while Robin and the guys cleverly waylay royal jerks and steal their gold. In at least two of them, the Sheriff has a thing for Marian and so there's also a love triangle issue at play, which makes it personal, not just political. Also: archery competitions. Even though the Kevin Costner version didn't have an actual royal tournament, which is one of my favorite parts of the traditional story, they at least had merry men shooting at targets for bragging rights at some point. People, I have a migraine and this is the most lucid I'm going to get. Do you see what I'm saying? It's fun, it's light, yet it's about chivalry and honor; it's about the little people against The Man, it's about loyal rebels standing fast against the day that their savior will finally return, it's about doing the right thing in a crazy world where right is suddenly wrong, and Robin Hood is the merry Lord of Misrule who turns it so far upside down on behalf of the oppressed that the world and the way it should be goes all the way back to right side up.
You know what Russell Crowe and his "merry" men steal? GRAIN. ONCE. And it's their own grain (well, it's Marian's), so they're just giving it back to themselves. THAT IS ALL THE ROBBING THEY DO. (Granted, they then plant the grain by moonlight, which is kind of cool.) The rest of it is riding around all serious and stubbly, trying to keep the French from burning everything down, while Secret Widow Marian slowly comes to think that maybe there are some other fields she might want her not-husband to plant by moonlight. The only people who live out in the forest are these feral orphans, I am not kidding you, and occasionally Marian is all like GET OFF MY LAWN!! but that's it. And here is the worst indignity of all: this movie has the Worst. Sheriff. Ever. EVER. I love Matthew Macfadyen; this is not his fault. It can't be his fault, because he only gets about ten minutes of screen time. He gets a token opportunity to harass Marian; a couple of scenes to eagerly ally himself with the approaching French; and then "Why you burn my house down? ) : " THAT IS IT. WHAT KIND OF ROBIN HOOD MOVIE DO YOU PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE MAKING. DO YOU EVEN GET THE POINT OF ROBIN HOOD BECAUSE I DON'T THINK YOU ARRRRRRGHHHHHHASLFKJLKAFSDJLKAJDIGN'';LL
I'm okay. Seriously, I'll be fine. Let me go get a couple of Aleve. You just wait here.
Okay. So. Here's the part that everyone's talking about (well, I say "everyone," but there weren't a whole lot of people in my theater, so who knows how many people will actually be talking about it), and it is: the ending. MAJOR SPOILER: Robin unites all the nobles and musters an army for King John and shoots up the French before half of them can get out of their boats and yay, "Robin Longstride" saved England! Only, the condition of doing all this was that King John sign THE MAGNA CARTA, BECAUSE THAT SO TOTALLY HAPPENED, and King John's like, "I will totes do that later. Maybe tomorrow," and then they're all meeting up after the battle for the Big Historically Accurate Signing of the Magna Carta Because This Is So How It Happened and John SETS IT ON FIRE all like "Robin Hood? OUTLAW, LOL" and so Robin and Marian and the gang hoof it to Sherwood and THAT IS THE END OF THE MOVIE. I got snookered into paying $7.50 for a ROBIN HOOD PREQUEL. Pardon my Anglo-Saxon, but WHAT THE FUCK.
I will say, Cate Blanchett was pretty fierce. But then, Cate Blanchett is always pretty fierce. This is not unexpected. Although I do question Lady Marian's decision to lead the Feral, Totally Unarmored Orphans into battle. Also, she actually sounded like she was doing some kind of Northern England accent, which Russell Crowe claims he was trying to do, and stormed out of a radio interview when it was suggested that he sounded Irish. Of course, I was sitting there watching the trailer going, "Is he supposed to be Welsh?," so maybe he's got a point.