Movie Review

Robin Hood also known as “Nottingham,” “Robin des Bois,” “Robin ton dason,” “Робин Гуд”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure Drama
Length:
2 hr. 20 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
May 14, 2010 (wide)
DVD: September 21, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Bow and arrow in the Bible

Swords

Featuring: Russell Crowe (Robin Longstride), Cate Blanchett (Marion Loxley), Max von Sydow (Sir Walter Loxley), William Hurt (William Marshal), Mark Strong (Godfrey), Oscar Isaac (Prince John), Danny Huston (King Richard The Lionheart), Eileen Atkins (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Mark Addy (Friar Tuck), Matthew Macfadyen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Kevin Durand (Little John), Scott Grimes (Will Scarlet), Alan Doyle (Allan A'Dayle), Douglas Hodge (Sir Robert Loxley), Léa Seydoux (Isabella of Angoulême), more »
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Scott Free Productions, Russell Crowe, Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott, more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Before Sherwood Forest, there was an adventure that made him a legend.”

I reasoned with myself recently that a film directed by Ridley Scott couldn’t possibly be terrible, especially with the star power of Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett backing the ticket. This reviewer is surprised to say that, although it wasn’t terrible, “Robin Hood” is certainly no “Gladiator,” and it has its fair share of flaws.

For starters, this film is not about Robin Hood. The film is not about the rogue who steals from the rich, gives to the poor, and out-duels King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham with his cohorts Little John and Friar Tuck. A more appropriate title would have been “The Origins of Robin Hood” or “The Legend of Robin Hood,” as this film deals strictly with Robin’s past and how he became the myth and hero of his time.

As for the story itself, it is obvious that there were three writers who put this together. The story lacks direction and purpose and felt disjointed. This, along with the almost countless historical inaccuracies that ranged from simple cultural and social errors to a completely fabricated battle, made for a tedious and monotonous narrative.

This, however, was redeemed in many ways by the outstanding battle scenes, particularly those toward the beginning of the film. This made for a promising premise and a thrilling introduction, but a disappointing conclusion.

Violence is heavy but kept in check, and there’s no gore, but there are some intense battle sequences, including people struck by arrows, death by spears, swords, and stabbing, and an attempted rape. Profanity is unusually low, but includes 4 uses of “Christ” or “God.” Perhaps the most unfortunate parts of the script are some very suggestive and sexual one-liners that are, for the most part, inappropriate. The innuendo may be humorous, but only distracts from the “epic tone” I believe Scott was shooting for. Jokes range from dealing with sexual performance to encounters with farm animals, and none are particularly necessary. There’s also a scene in which King John is in bed with a woman, and his mother walks in, and they are, obviously, naked.

Other problems involve character development. Crowe’s chemistry with Blanchett is uncomfortable in places, and their romance is bland, while Oscar Isaac plays a King John character that is largely undefined (like other characters in the film), and King John is, surprisingly, not the antagonist in the film. Robin Hood’s posse may be one of the brightest spots in the film, though, as they are playful, fun and enjoyable to watch on screen.

The score is a bit of a misfire, in my opinion, as well. It doesn’t flow well with the script or the actors, and there are far too many “dance and drink and be merry” scenes.

For whatever reason, Scott and company thought it was necessary to try and add to the story of Robin Hood and to explain his origins and essentially rewrite history. In the process, they jam-pack years of history into 2 hours of inaccurate tedium that I think misses the point. Although the concept is interesting, and the action is stellar, Robin Hood, unfortunately, never comes into his own to become the character we’ve come to know and love over the past 70 years in American cinema. As history gets its arm twisted, you’ll likely wonder why the writers chose this story to tell instead of the myth and legend of Robin Hood, as Ridley Scott’s take on “Robin Hood” is, in contrast, long, inconceivable, and, to be blunt, kind of boring.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I think the reviewer was too hard on the film—it is neither boring nor riddled with sexual content. There are one or two mild innuendos that will go over most people’s heads, although there is unfortunately one scene of partial nudity that involves Prince John and his mistress.

Having said that, yes, the beginning is a little tedious, but by the end I had completely enjoyed myself—and the more I think about the film, the more I love it. The legend of Robin Hood as most audiences know it (from mostly campy and unmemorable films over the years) has been reworked into a serious historical epic that while inaccurate, is very entertaining.

Best of all, Lady Marion has been transformed from a damsel in distress into a strong female lead who is more than capable of taking care of others and herself when it comes right down to it. I found that new dynamic, and as such her equality with Robin, to be very engaging and it increased the romantic tension dramatically—I have rarely seen two people with more on-screen chemistry than Robin and Marion.

I think if audiences go in knowing this is the origins of Robin Hood, not a Robin Hood story set in Sherwood Forest, they will enjoy it. Having never been particularly fond of the accepted figure in legend, I enjoyed a new approach that had the director’s typical flair—gorgeous scenery, massive battle scenes (refreshingly, without obvious CGI enhancement), and occasional instances of touching emotion and humor. Overall, I loved it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Charity Bishop, age 27 (USA)
Positive—Okay, first off, I don’t understand why people keep bashing this film, saying it isn’t historically accurate or it’s too boring or the story makes no sense.

One, the film doesn’t try to be historically accurate, nor does it have to be with a character who is a myth that has such a weird story as it is.

Two, the film is not boring by any means. I very much enjoyed sitting through this two and a half hour film, and was not once bored.

Three, the story does in fact make sense: a guy fighting for freedom for his country. And to those of you saying it isn’t “Braveheart” or “Gladiator”… if you wanted those movies, why did you go to a movie titled “Robin Hood”? Rather than go to your DVD shelf and get one of the two?

As far as the content goes, it was kind of funny to me, because Gladiator, with an R, wasn’t actually as violent as Robin Hood. We aren’t talking gory details, just widespread violence in battles. There is a part where the prince and his french mistress are naked in bed, and when his mother is scolding him, he stands up buck naked (you don’t see anything, but you know, since it is used as a joke).

The reviewer did mention Robin’s men and the women of the town, so enough said there. The language really isn’t a problem. I heard probably one word throughout the whole movie. Overall, I believe the reviewer was going WAY too hard on the movie. Who cares if it’s historically accurate? I doubt many people are going to see the history rather than the battle scenes (you know it’s true). No it isn’t “Braveheart,” but it’s wasn’t trying to be, nor was it trying to be “Gladiator.” When they say it’s from the director of Gladiator in the trailer, for those of you who seemed to be misinformed, it wasn’t saying “This is movie is ‘Gladiator,’ just a different character!” it’s saying the dude who made one movie is making this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ricky, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Maybe it takes the over 49 year olds to really appreciate this movie. The scenes are unbelievable. The thatched roofs, the muddy yards, and the general landscapes, this was wonderful.

Now about the story, my husband and I both love all types of movies and this one to many seemed slow, to us, seemed right on in introducing the legend of who. what. when, where and most of all… why this man’s life was so fun to watch.

The casting was right on perfect. Russell Crowe best choice, and Kate was great, she was the right size and sassiness for this part. The whole cast was as one would imagine them to be. Not the pretty perfect beauties and strong dudes that perhaps the younger folks would expect. But to perfection. To sum it up, my hubby and I are hoping for a Robin Hood 2,3,4, etc.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—M. Boll, age over 49 (USA)
Positive—I went to watch this movie with only moderate expectations, particularly after reading the Movie Guide review, and some negative comments from others. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. While the story was quite different from the traditional Robin Hood, I found it a rather refreshing take on the old tale (which could not be considered history anyway). Russell and Cate were exceptional as always. And the movie flowed well with a not too simplistic storyline, good effects and some spectacular scenery.

Morally, the movie was OK; the main characters were portrayed as moral people, even though the church was portrayed as weak and corrupt (which it well could have been in that era)—God was not belittled. Some of the other characters, King John, Robin’s friends, etc, were somewhat immoral. I wouldn’t classify the violence as extreme, but it was quite intense at times.

All in all a good watch-far better than the majority of tripe that comes out of the major studios. I’m looking forward to the sequel!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John Phelps, age 54 (Australia)
Positive—While I enjoyed this movie, there were a few things that were not good. The battle scenes were good, but, too often, women and children were killed. War is bad enough, but women and children should be protected at all cost, even if it means a few more men would die to protect them. I do not know if this was historicaly correct or not, but I do not like thinking that women and children were murdered like this.

I did enjoy seeing how Robin came to be the legend that he is. The king did not follow through on his agreement.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ron, age 26 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—From watching “Robin Hood,” I say it’s a bit neutral. There isn’t a whole lot of profanity or sex but there is a scene where Prince John is frolicking with his mistress and his mother walks in on them. There are assorted uses of the word, b******.

What I did like about the film was the faith of Marion (Cate Blanchett). While a parish monk chastises her for her sins (she came into their chapel to pray after the crops have been stolen; the priest believed that her situation was the result of her sins), she “tells him off.” When people pray while being in tight situations, the last thing they need is someone in authority to condemn them for their sins. I disagree with the film’s reviewer; I believe that Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe had great chemistry. It’s only when they first meet is when the two are apparently awkward together.

The film is good; not great but good. There were some weird scene jumps here and there. One of the battle scenes seemed to be a rip-off of “Saving Private Ryan.” Other than that, it’s good entertainment but I would advise those who want to watch it to wait until it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Shannon H., age 28 (USA)
Neutral—To have looked only at the plot of this film was to have missed the entire point. This film is not really about the story of Robin Hood, but was instead a critique of organized religion that is viewed as being oppressive, reactionary and insensitive to the individual rights of persons. It indicates that the free masonry is responsible for the freedom of modern Europe and the rest of the world and not religion.

The film has made some strong points in advocating individual freedom but its attempt to paint all religions leaders as corrupted tyrants was erroneous, superficial and tasteless.

However, the battle scenes, intensified through appropriate music and brilliant cinematography were well done. The female protagonist was of good moral character but unfortunately, as many other movies, the sexual encounters of Robin Hood friends were seen as just one of the elements of having a good time. Ridley Scott has to make up his mind about whether he is anti religious or anti Christian.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Michael, age 50+ (Canada)
Neutral—This movie may be summed up in one short sentence: Lots of people die. By being burned, stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, stung, and drowned (I might have missed a method or two). It would be interesting to see if anyone had an actual head count. In addition, it is littered with infidelity, attempted rape, some crude comments, and partial nudity. Much of the movie is dark and somber. And unfortunately, for about the first half, I wasn’t quite sure what the plot was or if there was one. On the flip side, there were some generally funny moments and I did laugh. The scenery, when it wasn’t scattered with dead bodies, was really quite lovely. And I enjoyed the music. The acting appeared to me to be quite excellent and I am ignorant enough of English history and Robin Hood lore that the discrepancies did not bother me. In the end, I am not disappointed that I saw it. However, to be honest, I think I like the animated Disney version better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sarah C., age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—At first I was going to give my personal opinion, but after reading this review I can just say it sums up everything I could have written, because I completely agree with all of it. As much as I’d like to have thought Ridley could do no wrong after movies like “Gladiator,” he made “Robin Hood.” I was disappointed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Andrew, age 28 (USA)
Negative—My negative rating is based not on “moral” quality, but rather on artistic shortcomings. Russell Crowe was poorly cast as Robin Hood, and fails to get the accent right; having lived in England for four years, I know what an English accent sounds like! Crowe was just poorly cast for this role. It’s such a pity, since the other actors did such an good job.

The script is also weak. The story involves too many characters, and action does not flow seamlessly from one scene to the next. While there are some intriguing political themes, the plot lacks the unit to fully communicate them to the audience. I would recommend skipping this film. If you must view it, rent it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Cornelius, age 22 (Canada)
Negative—If you’ve read a book, taken a history class, or watched the history channel, you’ll probably hate this film. The countless, ridiculous instances in which you’re expected to throw reason and intelligence out the window will drive you crazy.

Want some examples? This is a prequel, Maid Marian prior to the tale of Robin Hood would have been roughly 16… not 50 like Cate Blanchett. In one scene, Walter Loxley (Marian’s father in the film) is asked by Robin Hood what became of his father. Loxley responds by saying “you already know” and then asks Robin to just close his eyes and does a ridiculous Vulcan Mind Meld impersonation to reveal his past to him.

The French invasion fleet is made up of wooden ships that are eerily similar to that of the US army’s during WWII, complete with deployable front for easy beach access. King John is portrayed in a positive light, when in fact John was one of the worst kings in the history of England. The only good thing that EVER came out of his reign was the signing of the Magna Carta, and that only happened because he was forced to.

Russell Crowe catches some form of weapon in two different battle scenes while riding on a horse …Gladiator anyone? Robin Hood shoots a total of approximately 12 arrows, and favors swords and hand to hand combat. King Richard gets killed by a cook in a siege attempt… Richard actually was not killed in battle, but made it back to England after getting shot, and died of gangrene in his mother’s arms.

Countless other annoyances clutter the film, it would take pages to list them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Mark BC, age 24 (USA)
Negative—First off, “Robin Hood” is not a good movie. It’s quite bad. The story is convoluted, the characters are muddled, and it doesn’t ever give you a sense of adventure.

The acting is fine, and the cinematography is so-so, but this is hardly any consolation.

As far as content, it’s a mixed bag. Robin and company are genuinely heroic, but the film glorifies war and violence. It seems we can’t have heroes anymore that restrain from slashing someone’s head off. Which brings me to the violence, quite intense for a PG-13, especially towards the end. Perhaps more worrisome, Robin’s pals, Little John, Will Scarlett and the other guy who’s name I can’t remember, have casual sex (off-screen) and little is made of it. We DO see Prince John and his mistress having premarital sex (or at least foreplay) although it is under covers and very brief (however, Prince John is not shown as honorable in any way).

Avoid at all costs, this movie is a bad excuse for a film. While not great morally, it’s real problems lie in the lack of a good story or characters, and the botching of an extremely well-loved literary character.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—John Harland, age 18 (USA)
Negative—This movie was not good at all. It was not only filled with historical lies, but, also, just dumb dialogue and very few uninteresting scenes. Ridley Scott is an antichristian, and, besides “Gladiator,” he has no good films.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: none
—Ken, age 39 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—This movie is not what I expected it to be in the fact that it was more of a setting up future movies and explaining where Robin Hood came from than an actual Robin Hood story. I did enjoy the movie for the most part, the acting was top notch, it was filmed amazingly, the story line was engaging and as long as you paid attention it was easy to follow, and some of the landscapes were beautiful. However, there was a lot of unnecessary sexual content and language. There was no s words or f words, but the term that refers to your parents not being married was used many times. Also there was so much sexual content, there was lots of remarks and there is an unmarried couple shown in bed together, and in that scene there is some nudity. So all in all, it would have been an excellent film were it not for those details.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Katie, age 16 (USA)
Positive—As with all movies, there were pros and cons to this film; however, I felt that this movie’s positives outweighed the negatives. Throughout the film, a prevailing theme is doing what is right. In various instances, the main character is faced with issues of morality, and, without fail, does what I would believe to be the right thing to do.

It must be understood that, unfortunately, there are some sexual scenes. It is nothing explicit, and reveals no “private parts,” but it is contrary to what Jesus would have us do. Furthermore, there are a few times when mild profanity is used.

As far as the movie went as a story, if you are looking for a retelling of the original tale of Robin Hood, you will not find that here. The movie covers what the older movies did in ten minutes. That is to say, it is nearly entirely about Robin’s return from the Crusades. Regardless of this, I found the plot to be original and, for the most part, captivating and clean for a major motion picture.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hayden, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I went into the film thinking “Oh, great. Russell Crowe doesn’t look a thing like Robin Hood. I’m going to hate this film.” I admit that I was wrong. This movie dealt more with a Robin Hood who actually might have been known to history, instead of the swashbuckling action hero that past movie’s have made him out to be.

For a couple of years, I have been studying the time period of the Magna Charta, so I was happy when they took events from history and put them in their film. The death of Richard by an arrow, the war with Phillip of France, King John’s mistress, the baron’s rising against John, and them wanting him to sign the Magna Charta were all historical events. The only thing wrong with these events is that they happened over a twenty-year time period in actual history, not in two hours.

Some reviews I have read say that the film is confusing and hard to follow. I did not get this feeling at all. Of course, studying the time period might have helped me to follow the plot line. I really enjoyed this movie on its history level.

But there is some morality issues that are present in the story. King John is an adulterous man, thinking more about himself than of others. He beds a young women near the beginning of the film. He even tells his mother “I can bed any women I want, I can wed any women I want.” Very offensive. There is also a couple of sexual jokes that are said.

The language is mild, “B**t**d, H*LL, Bloody” and the like.

The violence in the film was mostly epic battle scenes, but the gore was kept to a minimum. It wasn’t like “The Lord of the Rings” battles with beheadings right and left. Mostly action with occasional blood trickling down the face. That was it.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this film on its historical and action level, but the sex scene at the beginning could have been cut down more. I would not let young children see this film. Too mature for them. But on an older level, this film would be enjoyed by teens and adults who love action, and the legend of the famous outlaw.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Peter, age 16 (USA)