Sunday, 25 November 2018



Yes, again. Yet another trip to Sherwood Forest with the Merrie Men and the boo-hiss Sheriff and comely Maid Marian, reimagined for another generation after the tedious slog of the Ridley Scott version with Russell Crowe and his internationally roaming accent. Happily the results this time are a lot better: a comicbook romp of anachronistic dialogue, reinvented characters, impossible whizzbang action sequences that must at some point have been conceived with 3D in mind, and a sense of fun that Scott and Crowe completely discarded. It's still not very good, and the spectre of Guy Ritchie (specifically King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword) hangs over it, but as big-scale popcorn nonsense goes it zips along and probably has more chance of a followup than King Arthur did.

Despite Robin's opening voiceover telling you to forget what you think you already know, the first half of Robin Hood follows the familiar story: Robin Of Loxley (Taron Egerton) returns home from the Crusades to find his mansion a ruin, his beloved Marian (Eve Hewson) missing and the Sheriff Of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) crushing the peasantry underfoot in the mines. He's helped by a Moor (Jamie Foxx) whose name roughly translates to John, who stowed away in the ship back to England when Robin heroically tried to stop prisoners being pointlessly executed. John teaches him the astonishing archery skills necessary to get their revenge of the Sheriff and the whole corrupt establishment....

What this amounts to, essentially, is a Batman story: by day he's landowner and philanthropist Sir Robin Of Loxley, but by night he's The Hood, fighting for justice for the people because ineffectual wannabe politician Will Scarlett (Jamie Dornan) isn't strong enough. (He's also Marian's new partner, setting up the love triangle and ultimately positioning him as the new villain in any potential sequel.) The opening war scenes are basically Full Metal Quiver, with a squad of British squaddies pinned down by a sniper with a mechanical archery device (I'm sure one of the poor Tommies even called out "Incoming!" at one point). Personally I'm still on the fence about Egerton, but Mendelsohn is magnificently evil, easily out-Rickmanning everyone else in the film. Comedy relief is supplied by Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck, blimey-it's-him surprise star value is supplied by no less than F Murray Abraham as a scheming Cardinal.

It's fun enough, and it's very silly, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's certainly not the worst of the film versions (which for me is still Ridley Scott's, a film which made me wonder whether I wanted to even bother with mainstream, general audience cinema any more). The endless concessions to the modern audience, extending to a thudding rock song over the closing credits which is way, way worse than Everything I Do from the Costner version, are only to be expected these days and they don't get in the way of a decent enough superhero action movie.


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