Yep. You’re seeing that correctly. Robin Hood is the first zero rating in this website’s history. From the first shot of the veiled Marian (Eve Hewson)’s cleavage, to the cultural appropriation of her Arabic outfit, Robin Hood signals cheap intentions. The film, meant to be a re-telling of a classic story (the story you didn’t know), lacks coherency with an excruciatingly messy screenplay, worse acting, worse costumes, sets, and effects. Every component of Robin Hood should be buried in Sherwood forest.
The film opens with a leather bound “story book” featuring the same amount of detail of a stock prop from an Undergraduate production. Robin Hood (Taron Egerton), known as Lord Robin of Loxley, provides a voice over. This forced convention provides nothing, other than letting us know of this story’s “originality.” Robin, working in his stables, comes across Marian stealing one of his horses. They click because nothing says true love like horse rustling and the smell of animal manure. However, their bliss is interrupted when the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) sends Robin a draft notice to fight in the crusades. In another assist from the props department, there’s a close up of the parchment that just says, ‘Draft Notice.’ As if that information couldn’t have been given through some dialogue.
Robin, sent to Arabia to fight in the crusades, departs for four years. There, a regular soldier with a crossbow (never mind that as a Lord, he shouldn’t be a regular soldier), we find him in a raid. A machine gun, I mean a rapid-firing arrow gun, in a tower makes it rain like 300. Robin and his company of ruthless killers take out the arrow throttling Arabian, but are ambushed because Robin refuses to leave a man behind. They manage to fight off this band of Arabians, capturing John (Jamie Foxx) and severing his hand (he later gains a metal stub to replace his hand, making him a fighting tin can of a man, can, can).
Unfortunately, we’re never granted the glee of anyone referring to Foxx as “Little John” (even this screenplay knows its limits). However, all goes awry when Robin’s compatriots begin executing their prisoners of war, including John’s son. Our morally pure hero can’t idly standby. Overpowered, and stabbed, he’s sent back home rather than hung for treason. Homeward bound, John hides in Robin’s ship, stowing away during the three month journey. How he survived for three months living in the ship’s keel with no apparent food is a mystery to us. How he currently smells is information we don’t want.
When Robin returns, he finds that his estate has been seized. Apparently, the Sheriff of Nottingham pronounced him dead two years ago. Oops. Assuming Robin’s death, Marian now lives in the mines with her new boyfriend Will (Jamie Dornan). Oops. They’re fighting for the people against an over-taxing government.
To avenge his son’s death, John enters a pact with Robin to rob the Sheriff and give to the poor. Robin agrees, hoping to win back Mirian through his thankless deeds. He will rob the rich during the day and schmooze and party with the Sheriff and county elite during the night, in an attempt to enter their inner circle. He’ll wear a mask that only covers his mouth, exposing his eyes. He’ll use his manor as a hideout to plot. In essence, he’s a medieval Batman.
Director Otto Bathurst, completing his first feature theatrical release, lacks imagination with his framing. Most shots are exclusively center framed, even when the composition lacks symmetry. The costume department, in an apparent attempt to modernize this tale, ambiguously centers us somewhere between The Middle Ages, The Fifth Element, and the present day. The effects, in combination with the action sequences, especially during the faux-Chariot race make Ben-Hur look state of the art today…. the 1925 Ben-Hur. The sets lack any detail, instead making Medieval Times the gold standard of production design. While Robin Hood does boast a talented cast, the cheesiness of their script would blunt the sharpest of performances.
In a feigned attempt to give this vacuous film any weight, Robin and co. are ensnared in a larger political power play of treason between the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Cardinal—played by a satin-bedazzled F. Murray Abraham, and Arabia. How this secret pact benefits all parties involved harks to a Middle Age Military Industrial Complex. Not like starving over-taxed homeless peasants needed a governmental and international reason to revolt, right?
But hey, Robin Hood has to set up Robin Hood 2, 3, 4, maybe even 5. Oh yea, you heard me right. An origin story for the hero, this is supposed to be the first in a series. No one wants this universe. No one, except the studio. Now the current survival tactic for all studios, Robin Hood modernizes a familiar story, hoping to get cheap millions for the next 5-7 years. Not a bad plan after watching the success of Venom, I guess.
And reading this review and a few others of this film – make me not so sad that I missed the media screening of this! hahahaha Big Egerton fan and think he’s got such a great career ahead of him, but to have your first big lead film bomb, is hard.
I like Egerton too. Hopefully he bounces back with the Elton John biopic!
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