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Movie Review: Robin Hood (2010)

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If you see Robin Hood, make sure and stay for the end credits. They are colorfully animated like expressionistic paintings come to life that retell the basic plot of the movie in about two minutes. They are bold and exciting and bloody. And did I say colorful and vibrantly so?

At movie’s end, I sleepily pried myself from my seat, but then those images made me pause. Two minutes later I felt like applauding. I was smiling. I was in a state of bliss. Too bad only four other moviegoers enjoyed this little masterpiece with me – and two of them were necking, experiencing their own different sort of bliss.

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” And by the end of Robin Hood I could really relate. I really needed to pee something awful by the end. Of course, the even longer Avatar had the same effect, but having a good time makes one forget about such things.

At 140 minutes, Robin Hood really felt long. The first half hour especially dragged as it labored to set things up. This is one of those movies that opens by filling the screen with stuff to read and when it goes away, dang it, it’s replaced by more stuff to read.

I’ve long thought that most movies could be improved by getting rid of everything that happens before, you know, something good happens. The snaky, love to hate him villain of the piece doesn’t begin to pose a problem until about the half hour mark. Why not start there? That would bring the length down to less than two hours.

I admit – and feel free to disagree – that I don’t care for Russell Crowe. And I think he’s horribly miscast here. Sherwood Forest is filled with trees. And any one of them would’ve been a better match for his wooden acting abilities. *

Crowe registers a big zero as Robin the Hood. He wears the same expression throughout – sort of a cross between confusion and constipation. He doesn’t manage any heat during his scenes with Cate Blanchett as Marion, although she isn’t much help either.

And, most damaging of all, the guy simply doesn’t have a sense of humor and in these post-Robin Hood: Men in Tights times, that simply won’t do. I’d love to see a Jar Jar Binks style fan edit removing every trace of Crowe. Just pretend that Friar Tuck is the hero. Or, better yet, replace Crowe with Jar Jar. That would at least be funny.

The movie is filled with big scenes of, well, scenery. But none of it looks very picturesque. Hollywood has a funny habit lately of digitally dialing everything into some limited color palette, usually so they don’t have to worry about the colors matching during filming, reducing costs.

Unfortunately, they went a little crazy while spinning the dials this time and everything has been reduced to mud, sort of a dead grey. This is probably why those vibrant animated colors at the end came as such a relief. If all that scenery isn’t even pretty, I say cut it. There goes another 30 minutes.

Honestly though, the only way to really fix this Robin Hood would be to trim everything away, leaving only those last two minutes.

* I apologize for being so snarky. I’ve seen too many disappointing movies lately. If you love Crowe, this may be just your movie.

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About Todd Ford

  • Anne Lund

    End credits ARE terrific. As to this review, gimme a break! There is beautiful rich color in the movie where called for; Russell as Robin L. certainly displays a sense of humor when called for; and as an action/adventure story, it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

  • jepressman

    Couldn’t disagree with you more.Especially about casting Crowe,who is a really fine actor. He made a fine Robin Hood.This RH isn’t one of those superhero flicks with hyper action,perhaps you should stick to those.

  • Chuck Apple

    Robin Hood was terrific. This is something of a hobby of mine. I’m 62, so I’ve seen most Robin Hood efforts first run. This one does the entire legend a service by rewriting the overall storyline and giving it a nice, grown up boost. I completely agree with the other 2 comments. Crowe is fine especially since this is not a movie about jokes, but about times that are very dark. We have way too many comic book movies that neither address anything on the minds of the adults in the room nor do they offer a reasonable upbeat, hopeful resolution that does not involve blood and gore and those little bags that you get on airplanes.
    This was a real popcorn movie. The reading didn’t bother me. I love print and the little bit here was just fine. As were the terrific credits that the reviewer notes. My sweetie says that a movie has to pass the Cynthia butt test. This Robin Hood certainly achieved that test.
    One last point. Despite the fact that this movie plays fast and free with the historical facts in question (it is a movie after all), it does introduce a good deal of history that never gets any attention, namely, the dreadful reign of John, the invasion of the French, and the civil war in England.
    While no one will ever replace Errol Flynn or Richard Greene for me, Russell Crowe certainly shows me a new vision of Robin and does so along with a wonderful action movie.

  • Paul

    “…Forest is filled with trees. And any one of them would’ve been a better match for his wooden acting abilities”. These are insults. Mr Crowe is a high-class actor and Robin Hood a great film. Seldom I´ve read a film critics which is so wrong (and abusively). And this Robin Hood movie can´t be too long, it´s just right.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/todd-ford/ Todd Ford

    Paul – You should’ve read my first draft. I considered his acting more suited to playing a shrubbery. But my daughter thought I was being too mean.

    No, I obviously disagree with the four commentors above. I don’t find Crowe to be a fine — or even good — actor and a quick survey of his credits at imdb just now revealed only four movies that I liked, namely “Romper Stomper,” “L.A. Confidential,” “The Insider,” and “Master and Commander.” But those mostly worked for me in spite of his presence.

    To me, this “Robin Hood” made the same mistake as “Batman Begins.” It is ponderous, overlong, and takes the whole story way to seriously. But, just as some people who live and breathe Batman would love a hyper-serious take on that franchise, someone who studies Robin Hood for a hobby will probably love this.

    I guess I’m just an Adam West and Errol Flynn kind of guy.

    A quick note on the style of this review: I really have been beaten down by a depressing string of disappointments lately and was not in a good mood when I left the theater after “Robin Hood” — other than those marvelous last 2 minutes of course. So I decided to have some fun and try writing a really snarky review. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me because I’m not generally the snarkiest of guys, but I did laugh more than usual while writing it, so I’ll forgive myself.

  • Ashley

    This movie could have been made about someone other then Robin Hood. Mel Gibson was going to play Robin Hood but when two other versions went into production at the same time he backed out and did Braveheart instead. In this movie they changed the Robin Hood story so much that it could have been a completely new character. It could of been called “The Mumbling Archer and the Action window” So why did they wreck the Robin Hood story?

  • Mukhtar

    I think it is just the best ever Robin Hood movie. I just loved the historical bits in the movie.

    I hope there is a part two..

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