Every decade or so, Hollywood will inevitably come out with a new Robin Hood movie (or two). From the swashbuckling Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks to the older and more experienced Sean Connery version. From the Disneyfied red fox in green tights to the bland and forgettable Patrick Bergen edition. From the purposefully humorous Carey Elwes to the not-so-purposely hilarious (but hee-larious nonetheless) Kevin Costner take. Robin Hoods from Italy, Japan and India - even a porn version in the seventies. I think my personal favourite rendition was the Rat Pack in Robin and the 7 Hoods, complete with an Ole' Blue Eyes Robin, a Dino Little John and a crooning Bing Crosby as the film's resident Tuck. I suppose this inevitable trip back to the well is due to the fact that the character is in public domain and thus no one need be paid royalties. It's a no-brainer really. Unfortunately, this latest version directed by Ridley Scott and starring his beefcake muse Russell Crowe as the titular Sherwood Forest hoodlum, is a no-brainer in its own right.
This latest version of the story of Robin Longstride and his merry men is all bloated and bombastic bells and whistles, replete with head-throbbing and eardrum blasting battle scene jump cuts and achingly painful and quite unnecessary slo-mos. In other words, it is a typical Ridley Scott movie. Sure, it could have been much worse (Costner could have been involved) and Crowe is very possibly the most talented actor to seriously take on the role, but in turn, it could have (and should have) been much better. The history and mythology of the character is fascinating and could make for an enjoyable movie (and has on occasion) but all the fun inherent in the character seems to have been sapped out of the movie by Scott's insistence on using his usual overblown staging and ham-handed, hyper-tensed camerawork to visually and audibly assault his audience - and in the same stroke, cut the proverbial balls off of his usually powerful leading man. Scott is one of those directors (along with James Cameron) who can somehow have the screen constantly filled with action yet at the same time bore the pants off of anyone with an IQ higher than their shoe size.
Sure, Cate Blanchett as the earthy and ruggedly sexy Maid Marion of Loxley is stunning in both looks and performance (as always) and Danny Huston is a delight (as always) in the role of Richard the Lionheart (although, we could have done with Huston's rather short screen time being elongated, but alas...) and it is always enjoyable when Max Von Sydow shows up on screen and Crowe certainly doesn't embarrass himself in the role as Costner did (a thing Costner seems to take giddy delight in doing in film after film after film) but it is so difficult to get past Scott's abrasive, aggravating and downright annoying (and quite wearisome) directorial style in order to see fully these performances, one merely gives up and calls it a day. Something this critic did rather early on in this tediously exasperating bully of a movie. And just think, judging from the film's finale, sometime in the not so distant future, we are in for a whole lot more of the same bloated and bombastic bells and whistles mentioned above - another franchise is born. Ho hum. [06/03/10]