No.166 (6/25/10)

Robin Hood

By Robert Finleyn
Chief Writer

gRob from the rich and give to the poor!h That's the slogan most associated with that heroic outlaw of English folklore, Robin Hood. In Ridley Scott's latest epic, Robin Hood, Russell Crowe takes up the bow and arrow to lead the charge and give audiences a new version of the hero's origin. Robin Hood and his band of merry men that stalk Sherwood Forest trace their history back to the 15th Century, when the oldest recorded verse pertaining to the famed archer was recorded: gRobyn hode in scherewode stodh (roughly, gRobin Hood in Sherwood stoodh). Countless retellings and adaptations have popped up since the 1400s. In modern times, popular adaptations such as Disney's animated Robin Hood or the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves have continued the trend. This summer, director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator) gives audiences his own spin on the legend with his film Robin Hood.

Production for Robin Hood followed a somewhat unconventional path. In 2007, Universal Studios purchased a script entitled gNottingham,h which re-envisioned Nottingham' sheriff as a heroic figure. Russell Crowe was expected to play the main character, and Scott was on board to direct. However, Scott was not happy with the script, so filming was delayed until it could be rewritten, and the story evolved into one focusing on Robin Hood and how be became the man who would rob from the rich and give to the poor.

Scott's telling of the Robin Hood folklore is staged in the late 12th Century. Robin Longstride (Crowe) is a skilled archer as part of King Richard the Lionheart's Third Crusade. Once the king is slain in the battlefield, Robin and a small group of his colleagues decide to head home, as it has been 10 years since they were last home. From there, they become enthralled in a conspiracy against England.

The film bears many of the characteristics of a Ridley Scott fi m. Gritty, earthy tones, peculiar close-ups, and of course, Russell Crowe, all represent his imprint on the legend and create a slightly bland epic. Mark Strong is excellent as the main antagonist Sir Godfrey, and for the most part, the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest were very well cast. Cate Blanchett, who plays Lady Marion, gives a surprisingly uninspired performance, and Crowe's uneven accent is distracting at times.

These are minor flaws, however, when compared to the action and drama of the story (written by Brian Helgeland, with the story credited to Helgeland, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris). Scott certainly knows how to fi lm tension and action, and if thatfs what you are looking for, you'll find plenty to enjoy here. Robin Hood is rated PG-13. The run time is 140 minutes.

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