Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by:Brian Helgeland
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Elieen Atkins, Mark Addy
Released: May 13, 2010
Grade: B

From what I can remember as a kid, Robin Hood was that guy who “stole from the rich and gave to the poor.”  I don’t think that’s changed but it’s not the focus of Ridley Scott’s movie.  This fresh adaptation of the Robin Hood tale features on how he came to be.

The story begins in the late 12th Century with King John (Isaac) appointed to the English throne following the death of his father.  The power has quickly overwhelmed him.  Persuaded by his new advisor, King John demands that taxes be raised.  Those who do not pay will see their houses burned to the ground.

It turns out King John’s advisor has an ulterior motive.  His name is Godfrey and his loyalties lie elsewhere.  Hiding behind the King’s mandate, he uses his soldiers to obliterate townships across England.  His plan is to incite a civil war and leave the country open to attack from the French army.

A man by the name of Robin Longstride (Crowe) will stand between Godfrey and his ambitious goals.  You could call him an accidental hero.  After returning from battle in France, Robin goes to the small northern town of Nottingham to fulfil the last wish of a dead solider.  He asked that his sword be returned to his estranged father (Sydow).

With no home of his own, Robin is welcomed into the family of the late soldier.  His eyes are then opened to the oppression suffered by the townsfolk.  Despite all their hard work, their money is taken by the King and their food is taken by the Church.  The time has come to unite the people of England and fight for equality.

It’s hard not to compare this film with Gladiator.  Both movies are set in long-ago times.  Both movies are directed by Ridley Scott.  Both movies star Russell Crowe.  Unfortunately, Robin Hood can’t match Gladiator in terms of its passion and excitement.  It’s slow to start and things don’t start to get interesting until the second hour.  The momentum achieved is then lost with a rushed, clichéd conclusion.

There are some good performances amongst the cast.  The wonderful Max von Sydow shines as Sir Walter Loxley, the father of the slain soldier.  He’s such a great character to listen to.  Cate Blanchett is also nice as the feisty Marion Loxley, Robin’s developing love interest.

I can’t say the same for Russell Crowe.  I admire him as an actor but his monotone demeanour doesn’t work here.  There’s no life in the character at all.  The supporting players (such as King John and his influential mother) offer up more interesting dialogue and storylines.

With no expense spared on sets and costumes, Robin Hood ticks many boxes in its quest to be an epic blockbuster.  The direction of the action scenes late in the film was a little haphazard but on the whole, this is a well made production.