Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: Robin Hood

Sigh... I'm getting way behind on my movie reviews again, for reasons. In a desperate attempt to catch up, I'm gonna tear through some recent films I saw that I thought were OK but unremarkable. With that in mind, please enjoy this hurriedly-written Micro Review!

Robin Hood was written by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, and directed by Otto Bathurst.

Chandler previously wrote... well, nothing. This appears to be his very first screenplay. Kelly previously wrote (and directed) a short film titled Strawman. Somehow their lack of writing experience doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Bathurst previously directed a slew of various TV episodes. Robin Hood is his first theatrical work as well.

Thank the Christ Baby Jesus there's finally a live-action Robin Hood movie! We haven't had one of those in a good, oh, six months or so! Seriously, was anyone really clamoring for another goddamned Robin Hood movie? Wander over to IMDB some day, type in "Robin Hood" and prepare to be amazed at the sheer number of adaptations there've been over the years. I'm betting that along with Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, Robin Hood is one of the most overused literary characters there is.

This isn't your father's Robin Hood though, laws no. This is a brand new revisionist Hood, updated for the new millennium. I knew we were in trouble ten seconds into the film, when the narrator said, "He stole from the rich, and gave to the poor. He became a bedtime story. But listen. Forget history. Forget what you've seen before. Forget what you think you know.

Jesus wept. No good movie ever starts out that way.

As you might expect, Robin Hood is a huge box office flop. So far it's only managed to gross an anemic $73 million WORLDWIDE against its massive $100 million budget. When you factor in the film's extensive marketing budget, it could end up losing over a hundred million. Sucks to be you, Lionsgate Studios!


The Plot:
It's Robin Hood. If you don't know the story by now, I can't help you.

Robin Of Loxely (played by Taron Egerton) is a British nobleman who meets a thief named Marion, and begins a torrid romance with her. Unfortunately Rob (as he calls himself) is then drafted into the Crusades by the Sheriff Of Nottingham (played by Ben Mendelsohn), and sent to Arabia to fight. 

Rob is wounded and sent back home, where he finds the Sheriff's taken all his property, leaving him penniless. He also discovers that Marion thought he was dead, and has hooked up with Will Scarlett (although he's not called that here).

Rob discovers the Sheriff is secretly working with Arabia in order to gain more power and wealth. He then becomes "The Hood" and begins stealing from the Sheriff and returning the tax money to the poor.

 Robin Hood takes place in a deliberately anachronistic medieval fantasy world. It has to be deliberate, right? There's no way anyone could accidentally get this much wrong!

Among the many inaccurate and nonsensical things in this movie: draft notices, automatic crossbows that fire twenty rounds a second, buildings made of cement (!), Friar Tuck wearing eyeglasses (!!) and a coal mine, complete with mining cars that rode on miniature railroad tracks (!!!). And all that's just off the top of my head!

The costumes are strangely contemporary as well. So much so that the first time I saw the trailer, I honestly though the film took place in the present day!

As I said, this all had to be intentional. I'm assuming the production designer was conducting some stylistic experiment here. Unfortunately it failed. Hard.

 If nothing else, you can entertain yourself by listening to Marion's "English" accent fade in and out all through the movie. Which is all the more puzzling since actress Eve Hewson was born in Ireland. Yeah, I know, Irish and English ain't the same thing, but you'd think she'd be familiar enough with a Brit accent to be able to adequately reproduce one.

Actually EVERYONE'S accents are all over the place in the film.

 Speaking (heh) of accents and speech patterns... Ben Mendelsohn has a noticeable lisp in the film. I never paid that much attention to him before has he always had a lisp, or was it just a bizarre acting choice in this film?

 At the beginning of the movie, Rob is drafted and sent to "Arabia" to fight in the Crusades. 

At one point, Gisborne, his superior office, is about to execute an innocent prisoner. Rob ignores orders and tries to save the prisoner. Gisborne has his men hold Rob while he shoots an arrow into his gut as punishment for his treason. He then tells his men to throw Rob on a "hospital boat" and send him back to England.

Um... if Rob was really a traitor, I'm pretty sure they'd have killed him right then and there, and not bothered to send him home.

 Little John (played by Jamie Foxx), who's just called John in the movie, is an enemy Moor who loses his hand in battle. Gisborne then has John chained up with wrist shackles. Um... how do you handcuff a guy who doesn't have a hand? Shouldn't he be able to just slip his stump right out of one of the cuffs?

 The movie makes a desperate— and hilarious— attempt at making this ancient story relevant to our times. In one scene the evil Sheriff Of Nottingham holds a political rally, in which he ominously warns the public of the godless foreign hordes who are poring into the country, in an attempt to scare them into funding his war machine. He also denounces anyone who speaks out against him, stopping jussssst short of screaming, "Fake news!"

That's right! Robin Hood just turned the Sheriff Of Nottingham into goddamned Donald Trump.

 You haven't lived until you've seen two men chase each other up the steps of a church tower... on horseback! Yes, Robin Hood gives us CGI horses that can somehow run up narrow, switchback staircases.

 As part of the film's revisionist nature, Rob suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yep, you read right— his experiences during the Crusades haunts his sole, and causes him to freeze up during the big battle in the third act. Sigh...

Robin Hood isn't quite as bad as you've likely heard, but it's by no means good either. It's a bizarrely anachronistic revisionist misfire of a film no one needed or wanted, and will likely end up losing far more money than it rakes in. I give it a C-.

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