Title: Robin Hood
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Studio: Universal Pictures
Film Stock: Color
Run Time: 140 min.
This movie surprised me on a number of levels. First and foremost was the new and unique interpretation of the Robin Hood tale, beginning with a very different portrayal of King Richard the Lionheart, down to Robin's heritage and rise to fame. This movie is almost all back-story; it ends when most Robin Hood legends begin, with Robin becoming an outlaw. It is the story of an archer who travels back to England under an assumed name in order to survive. And yet in fulfilling an oath to a dying man he goes to Nottingham to return a sword. Robin soon learns the full story of his past and takes up a name and a responsibility for people around him that he had never shouldered before. He is a man of character and a man of integrity in a time when both are coming to be in short supply. The movie, and Robin's own past, both focus around an inscription on a sword "Rise, and rise again. Until lambs become lions." Something about it triggers memories from Robin's youth.
There is much to appreciate about this version of the Legend of Robin the Hood, and some that leave to be desired. First, the cinematography is stunning and incredibly well done. Director Ridley Scott uses imaginative transitions and cuts for battle scenes and overall visually the film is very well done. The action by Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett is strong and convincing. William Hurst as an older advisor and lord is a fitting cunning supporting role. Mark Strong as Godfrey, a wolf in sheep's clothing, plays an incredible villain. But what lets the movie down most is the orchestration, the score composed by Marc Strietenfeld. By about half way through the movie it sounds too similar to the Lord of the Rings scores, and at times too majestic for the action on screen. The score is the weakest part of the entire production. The other thing that makes this film rank a little lower for me is the fact that they leave it set up perfectly for a sequel or even a new franchise, and yet there is no indication of a follow-up film in the works. In conclusion, it is a good film, but it leaves you wanting to know the rest of the story.
(First published in Imprint 2010-05-21.)