Not the Robin Hood of old

2010-05-17 00:00

“HE robbed from the rich to give to the poor,” says one 12-year-old to his friend, standing behind me in the queue for popcorn before we make our way into the cinema. “Ya, I know,” replies his friend.

The irony is that in this movie, he doesn’t. The first glimpse we get of the romanticised version of Robin Hood only emerges in the closing minutes, which is both the triumph and the problem with Robin Hood … we’re expecting a one-upmanship on the Kevin Costner version, and instead we get a this-is-what-actually-happened, which combines Gladiator team Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott for the fifth time.

Robin Hood begins with Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett) chasing off a group of young scavengers. She fires an arrow with pinpoint sharpness and hurls insults at the youths — an immediate demonstration for any intuitive viewer that the expectation of Marion as the “damsel in distress” character should be shelved, and with it any notion of what we think we know about the story of Robin Hood.

No sooner has that scene started than it’s ended, and we’re into more familiar territory — the Crusades — although England is led by a demoralised and drunk King Richard “The Lionheart”.

It is here that a commoner Robin Longstride (Crowe), an archer in the ranks, finds himself in the frontlines of the war.

When Richard and his close minions are slain, Robin masquerades as the deceased Sir Robert Loxley in order to gain safe passage home to England on a ship.

His journey and sense of loyalty to a dying man lead him to Robert’s widow, Marion Loxley (Blanchett), and father Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow), who insists that he stay on, and in return offers insight into the history of Longstride’s father.

It turns out, Robin’s father was a visionary and leader, with an acute sense of justice, something that lives on when Robin challenges the new King John (Oscar Isaac) to give liberty to the people.

Once we get past the fact that this is a prequel and not the Robin Hood we were expecting, the after-taste is bitter-sweet. In one sense, it’s a complete let-down that Robin Hood isn’t the swashbuckling do-gooder sending an “up yours” to corrupt authorities, which has long been the legacy.

Instead we encounter a lost soul with heaps of potential as the film maps deeper insight into a normal human being and his relationships with the people around him. In the end, it’s infuriating (and on the other hand, exciting) to consider what the formidable actor-director team of Crowe and Scott could do with a sequel.

The cast is of the highest calibre, with the likes of Crowe and Blanchett at the forefront, and the action sequences, in the capable hands of Scott, are out of the top drawer. Previous film instalments (like the Sean Connery and Kevin Costner versions) seem like bubblegum offerings after watching this.

Here, there is an overriding sense of straightforward storytelling, and so Robin Hood isn’t the fable most will expect. It is a retelling of the story from “an arrogant” (to quote Crowe at Cannes) point of view, but generally quite admirable.

***

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.