Robin Hood: 3 of 5

My pal Ryan and I wanted to see a movie during my recent visit, so we decided to check out Robin Hood, which I otherwise might have passed on even though I'm definitely a Ridley Scott fan (how could I not be with my love for Blade Runner?). The film is pretty interesting, since it's essentially a prequel to the Robin Hood legend that we all know (in other words, there's no double bulls-eye archery scene!). We get to see Robin and his pals (who later will become the Merry Men, all terrifically cast) fighting in the Crusades in gritty battle scenes that really display the horrors of a castle siege. It's also soon established that Robin is an honorable guy, played with Russell Crowe's usual gentle stoicism (he actually seems a little pudgy in this movie, but that makes him a little more likable). Soon the story moves to England, and the expected characters of Prince (later King) John and the Sheriff of Nottingham (who does almost nothing, but I suppose they're saving him for a possible sequel) appear, along with Maid Marion and her father, expertly played by Max Von Sydow in the best performance of the movie. Robin and his men actually only "steal from the rich" once, and in fact more time is spent developing Robin's background story, which builds up to a speech that turns him into a kind of Thomas Jefferson! Ridley Scott gives the film an amazing look (as expected) with lots of real-life feel (although there is one helicopter shot that seems terribly out of place), but eventually succumbs to Hollywood's need to end every story with a big battle. This time it's with a French invasion on the beach using boats (and even underwater camera angles) straight out of Saving Private Ryan. Overall Robin Hood is extremely well-made and enjoyable, but ultimately not the kind of swashbuckler that most people are probably expecting. While this new approach is definitely admirable and interesting, it sure could use a dose of fun to even out the mood.