May 13th, 2010 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Saving Private Robin: Robin Hood Reviewed

The new Russell-Crowe-with-a-bow movie Robin Hood screened two hours after WW's press deadlines, and lasted approximately 457 hours.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

WW Critic's Score: 34

I can't think of a spectacle director from the last 30 years less suitable to the company of Merry Men than Ridley Scott. (Darren Aronofsky, maybe.) Whatever you make of Scott's trajectory from Alien to American Gangster (to me, it looks like a piano dropping out a window), he's never been mistaken for lighthearted. But the Robin Hood legend has always worked onscreen as a joie de vivre thing, from Errol Flynn's daredevil tree-hopping to the crudely drawn Disney fox and bear “laughin' back at forth at what the other one has to say.” For brief patches of his weightily budgeted Russell Crowe-starring battering ram, Scott strains for gaiety—mead, wenches, dick jokes and proto-Dropkick Murphy songs, hey-ho!—but soon returns to the only thing that makes him feel comfortable: Political subterfuge exchanged between hissing power brokers. His Gladiator was burdened by too many of these scenes. Robin Hood barely contains any other kind.

If only the movie's biggest problem were being dour. Its biggest problem is being stupid and boring. (Maybe this is two problems.) It opens with title cards explaining that this film is about Robin Hood and that—I wrote this down—"This is the story of his return home, where, for defending the weak against the strong, he will be condemned to live outside the law." I'm pretty sure the studio mandated that this text be inserted, because otherwise there is no way of knowing for the first two hours that this is the story of Robin Hood. Instead, it is an origin explanation—another needless device the movies have cribbed from comic-book culture—in which we learn that Robin Hood became Robin Hood thanks to Crusades Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Receiving no veteran's benefits, he is condemned to wander the countryside, impersonating a dead knight and breaking the bad news of Richard the Lion-Hearted's death while wondering who his dad was. (His dad is the original writer of the Magna Carta. This is actually the plot.)

He should check the video shelves under “Atrocity”: Robin Hood is filled with events I never wanted to see once, and have now seen twice. British soldiers lock their subjects in a communal building, then set it on fire (The Patriot). Somebody attempts to rape Maid Marian (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). Noblemen argue in a field until a dirt-smeared movie star gives a speech about landowner suffrage, or something (Braveheart). Infantrymen leap from transport ships to be slaughtered on a beachhead (Saving Private Ryan). No, really: The climatic 20 minutes of the picture are a shot for-shot recreation of Spielberg's Normandy invasion, but with bows and arrows. These final scenes, which also feature Cate Blanchett's Marian appearing out of nowhere in full armor, like an Anglo-Saxon Joan of Arc, achieve a certain moronic grandeur—they are, at the very least, not so dreary as what came before.

There are rumblings that Robin Hood will be championed by Tea Party loyalists, who perhaps sense a kinship with the concept of atoning for international despoliation with domestic populism. (The movie's rallying cry, “Every Englishman's home is his castle!” sounds like an editorial on the mortgage crisis.) If this actually happens, it will be delightful on several levels: The poor will be robbing themselves to give to Universal Pictures (which is growing increasingly penurious itself), and these tedious people will be subjected to something even less coherent and less interesting than their own movement. For 140 minutes. After the first hour, I was contemplating nothing but escape, and finally making it. Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a fiasco. PG-13.

Opens tomorrow at Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century at Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99 Stadium 11, Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 IMAX, Cinetopia, City Center Stadium 12, Cornelius 9 Cinemas, Division Street Stadium 13, Evergreen Parkway Stadium 13, Hilltop 9 Cinema, Lloyd Center Stadium 10 Cinema, Lloyd Mall 8 Cinema, Movies On TV Stadium 16, Oak Grove 8 Cinemas, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sandy Cinemas, Sherwood Stadium 10, Tigard 11 Cinemas, Wilsonville Stadium 9 Cinema.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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