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Robin Hood (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

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It simply doesn't feel like a movie about Robin Hood, no matter how many familiar names we hear.

 

The legend of Robin Hood is well-loved for many reasons. In one package you get a love story, a cool outlaw/anti-hero to root for, and the promise of medieval ass-kicking action. But anyone taking a trip to the theater for Robin’s latest incarnation should know that this Robin Hood is not like the others.

Robin (Russell Crowe) may still have his Marion (Cate Blanchett) and traipse around Nottingham while the sheriff tries to collect his high taxes, but that is so not the point of this movie. This Robin Hood is an origin story and, as such, we get lots of exposition, lots of talking, lots of historical plot lines, and very little good, old-fashioned Robin Hood hijinks.

Now, I’m not saying the movie isn’t well acted, directed or written, and I’m not saying it’s not good. The unfortunate truth, though, is that it simply doesn’t feel like a movie about Robin Hood, no matter how many familiar names we hear. Rather, it comes across as an above-average historical drama—not a bad thing, but certainly not what I was expecting.

First off, there’s way too much going on in this movie. We’ve got a war with France and France’s retaliation, warring factions within England, a king being betrayed by one of his men, tax collections running rampant, and a wild band of thieving children, to name a few plot lines. As you might imagine, all this activity takes away from the supposed main point of the film: the legend of Robin Hood.

To quote a guy who sat behind me in the preview, “Wow, there was no stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in this thing at all.” And, save for one ten-minute scene where Robin and his men take measures to keep the people of Nottingham from starvation, he was totally right. The best part of the Robin Hood story is largely left out. I think what most people connect to in the tale is the idea that wealth brought by ill-gotten gains or the abuse of common folk can (and will) be taken away and given to someone more deserving (i.e., you and me).

The filmmakers abandoned the predominant tenet of the Robin Hood saga for historical drama and, in the process, sucked out much of the fun. We never get to watch the underdog win, because there is no underdog here. The main battles are between England and France, not Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham (who, just so you know, barely shows up).

At the end of the film, we get the perfect set-up for a sequel that would be a more traditional telling of Robin Hood, but if the audience comes away from this origin story feeling cheated, we may not get one. | Adrienne Jones

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