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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #529 (Vol. 11, No. 20). This edition is for the week of May 10--16, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Robin Hood"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Robin Hood"  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and William Hurt
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 27 mins

Robin Hood has been around for what seems like forever. The story has been told on film over 50 times, beginning in 1908. Though film was still a new medium, by 1914 there had been five films made featuring the character. The great swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks played Robin Hood in 1922. In 1938 he was immortalized by Errol Flynn in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” In 1991 Kevin Costner and his muddled English accent gave the character a shot, though Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham stole the film. Now it’s Russell Crowe’s turn at telling the familiar story. Only this time it isn’t that familiar.

1199. While King Richard I (Danny Huston), better known as Richard the Lion Heart, continues his crusade in France his younger brother, John (Oscar Isaac), makes plans for his turn on the throne, much to the chagrin of his mother, Eleanor (Eileen Atkins). Fighting alongside the King is Robin Longstrides (Crowe). Handy with a bow and arrow, Robin is one of several marksmen that help storm the various castles that King Richard chooses to plunder. During a lull in the battle Robin meets Robert Loxley, a man who speaks often of his wife and family in the Nottingham area of England. When their paths cross again Robin is given a task…one that will not only change his life but that of his countrymen.

Do we really need another Robin Hood movie? That depends on what your definition of “another” is. Like other recent films (the “Batman” franchise, the most recent “Star Trek”), the story here is a “re-telling” of the story…a kind of look behind the scenes at what made Robin Hood hide in Sherwood Forest and start his “take from the rich, give to the poor” business. And the story is a long one. About 40 minutes too long. Written by Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”), the film has some great moments and some funny tongue in cheek references. But it also has battles, battles and more battles. Battles at the castle door. Battles in the woods. Battles in the village. Heck, there’s a battle on the beach that I’m sure lasts longer than the opening of “Saving Private Ryan.” Yes, Ridley Scott is a great action director…but we don’t need this much action.

In between the battles there are some fine scenes with some fine actors, led by Oscar winners Crowe, Blanchett, Hurt and Max Van Sydow. And fans of the legend will be happy to see that most of Robins’ merry men are also in attendance, including Friar Tuck (Mark Addy from “The Full Monty”), Will Scarlett (“ERs” Scott Grimes), Allan A’Dale (ironically played by the similarly named Alan Doyle) and Little John (Kevin Durand, whose appearance here with Crowe turns the film into a mini “Mystery, Alaska” reunion). The bad guys are represented well also, led by perennial bad guy Mark Strong, best known as the bad guy in “Sherlock Holmes,” “Kick Ass” and soon to be the bad guy, Sinestro, in “Green Lantern.” Someone needs a new agent…try a comedy some time, Mark.

The film’s production values are also top notch, with early 12th century England recreated pretty faithfully. The battle sequences, though long, are well-staged, although in my opinion some of the battle’s violence pushes the PG 13 envelope. Helgeland does keep the film historically accurate, which means you won’t see King Richard riding around in between battles like Sean Connery in the Costner version. Or Patrick Stewart in Mel Brook’s comedy “Men in Tights.” Speaking of Mel Brooks, I can remember a short lived television series in the 1970s based on the story called “When Things Were Rotten.” This Robin Hood isn’t rotten…but it isn’t great.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Robin Hood”  

This week's movie review of "Robin Hood" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.