Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Robin Hood" is Wildly Entertaining

While watching this film, I sat with wonder as to when the stories we've all heard of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, would present themselves. However, in continuing the long line of recent prequel films, this new film of the legendary archer evolves so that we may better understand the inner workings of the man in the hood and his group of merry men.

Russell Crowe stars as the title character, known in the film as Robin Longstride. Along with his loyal followers, Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale, and their muscle, Little John, they return to England after a long battle in France, one that has cost them the life of King Richard. Upon their return, they encounter a dying man named Robin of Locksley. Locksley begs Longstride to return to his village, Nottingham, with a gift for his father, Walter. Once there, an aging Walter convinces Longstride to pose as his late son in order to save Nottingham from royal seizure by the newly crowned king of England, Richard's brother, John. While in Nottingham, he meets and falls for Locksley's widow, Marian (played by another Oscar winner, Cate Blanchett). She appears to be skeptical of his actions at first, but quickly realizes his intentions are pure. On top of that, the evil English Baron Godfrey infiltrates the King's inner circle under the moniker Earl Marshal. He begins to terrorize villages under the false pretense of collecting royal taxes. Longstride must save his new village, the woman he loves, and defeat the Baron, the French, and the evil tyranny of the crown.

The film was directed by Ridley Scott, brother of Tony Scott. Whereas Tony Scott is mostly known for his film work as director, Ridley has been behind the camera for several television shows, and served as producer to several Tony Scott directed films. His filming style is similar to that of his brother's. He employs the use of hand held cameras, which is what gives these films the jerky, choppy camera movements. The use of sound, be it the arrow of the expert archer flying through the air, or a crackling fire, adds to the poignancy of the film. Russell Crowe does an excellent job in such a seemingly large and intimidating role. Crowe is a very intense actor, bringing everything to any role he's in. Blanchett plays her role as she does others she's cast in. She comes off, firstly, as a bit cold, someone who would not give a man the time of day. As the film progresses, she begins to open up into a warm and compassionate woman. As with any other film, the supporting cast is just important as the main cast. This film is certainly no exception. All the way down the line to the young children of the village, the casting is excellent. However, I did find Oscar Isaac's portrayal of Prince, or rather, King John, to be a little over the top and sporadic. In one scene, he would be a dastardly, maniacal ruler, and in another, he would be throwing out one-liners with biting sarcasm. As with any of the Scott brothers' films, the action sequences were excellent. While they were, at times, bloody (as you would expect war to be), they add another level of drama to a film rife with many other dramatic components.

I was never bored watching this film. While some films be long and tedious, this adaptation of the classic story was never dull. I highly recommend it.

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