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"Robin Hood" - (2010) - {Blu-ray}- (Wayne's Review)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Universal
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
9/20/10
Special Features:

Unrated "Director's Cut", featurettes, deleted scenes with commentary, "Ridleygrams", PIP option with behind-the-scenes interviews/outtakes/footage Rated: PG-13/Unrated

Review:

If you're a huge fan of Errol Flynn's version of "Robin Hood" you'll be surprised (and perhaps disappointed) by Ridley Scott's ("Kingdom of Heaven", "Gladiator", "American Gangster", "Body of Lies", "Alien" and "Blade Runner" among other films)variation on the legend of Robin Hood. Interestingly, this gritty representation of the Robin Hood legend eschews just about every element in the various Robin Hood movies and TV shows made over the years. Scott went on record as stating the only Robin Hood movie he thought was good was "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" by Mel Brooks. You should keep all of this in mind when renting or buying "Robin Hood" as its link to previous versions of the same legend are tenuous at best. ***

SPOILERS: Robin (Russell Crowe)serves under King Richard (Danny Huston in an all too brief appearence)as an archer and isn't anything more than an intelligent peasant. Richard and his men continue to plunder other kingdoms on their way back from the Crusades to rebuild the coffers of the king. When Richard is killed in battle, Robin takes the opportunity to return home masquerading as Robert of Loxley a Knight ambushed and killer while trying to return the King's crown to England by Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong)an English knight secretly working for the French. The dying Robert convinces Robin to return his sword to his father (Max Von Sydow)to make amends as the two had a falling out years before. Pretending to be Robert of Loxley has its privledges but also forces Robin and his compatriots to stay in Nottingham with Robin playing the role of Robert husband to Marion (Cate Blanchett)so as to protect the Loxley land from seizure by the Sheriff of Nottingham (an idea proposed by Robert's father). In the process Robin discovers a secret to his past and the fate of his own father. END OF SPOILERS: ***

Taking substanial liberties with the Robin Hood legend, Scott and writer Brian Hedgeland ("L.A. Confidential")takes a number of creative and unexpected turns in retelling the legend of Robin. Based on ANOTHER screenplay that tackled the same subject giving the Sheriff of Nottingham a more sympathetic role, the film went through rewrites up to and including the actual shooting of the film. Usually this results in a disjointed project (and isn't that unusual for Scott's films but often results in mixed results)but Scott and his cast manager to pull the film together. Reportedly the film had uncredited rewrites by playwright Tom Stoppard as well to give a sense of depth to the characters. Crowe does an interesting variation on his performance from "Gladiator" here creating a Robin weary of war who just wants to return home. --- Image & Sound:

The Blu-ray looks quite nice capturing the earthen tones and gritty look of the film. The textures are nicely reproduced from the theatrical version of the film and the presentation is crisp and clean. ***

Audio sounds quite nice with good direction use of the lossless Surround mix. ---

Special Features:

We get both the theatrical and "Director's Cut" of the film (the latter runs about 15 minutes longer)as well as deleted scenes, featurettes, etc. that give us some insight into why Scott chose to go in the direction he did with this project. The theatrical vesion can be viewed with the "Director's Notebook" which has behind-the-scenes footage, drawings by Scott and interviews. Interesting, Scott chose not to do a commentary track for this edition (or Universal is withholding it for a deluxe edition later down the line). We also get a DVD version of the film as well as a digital copy designed to download to portable playing devices.

Final Words:

Although "Robin Hood" lacks the dramatic power and impact of Scott's last two historical epic films ("Gladiator" and "Kingdom of Heaven"), he does a nice job of defying expectations based on previous tellings of the same tale. This is a marked improvement over Kevin Reynolds' film (with Kevin Costner) from over a decade ago and Crowe at least makes Robin a believable character within the context of Scott's universe. This is far from Scott's best film but it is entertaining and if it runs a tad long (both versions), the performances will keep you engaged. I liked the film (which means I had to give it four stars--I would have given it three which to me means it's a "good" but not outstanding film if not for how amazon defines 3 vs. 4 stars). ***

I suspect many of the negative reviews reflect disappointment with the way the story has been told compared to previous incarnations of "Robin Hood". The "Director's Cut" IS superior to the theatrical version adding in a couple of scenes and extending others that improve the drama. "Robin Hood" is more of a period film with action rather than an action film with period touches. The action isn't quite as intense as "Gladiator" or "Kingdom of Heaven" but they are also in service to a very different story. ***

I'd recommend "Robin Hood" with reservations--the pacing in the first half ia a bit turgid and it plays more like a prequel to ANOTHER film about "Robin Hood" but is still enjoyable.

 

 
 
 
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