Perhaps Ridley Scott has become a little origins obsessed. With not one but two Alien prequels on the cards, it’s not too long a bow to draw to see the director looking to give the mythologised man in tights the same treatment. Reteaming with his mainman Russell Crowe, fans may have been hoping for Gladiator 2, but instead the duo serve up an entertaining, though ultimately unimpressive portrait of Robin Longstride, before he came the legend of Sherwood Forest.
While there is a modicum of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, the film is more reminiscent of The Return of Martin Guerre (or the saccharine remake Sommersby), where a man returns from war to assume the place of his fallen comrade. Layered on top is a dense political history of the dastardly King John (Oscar Isaac) and the first rumblings of the Magna Carta. Like Scott’s earlier crusade epic Kingdom of Heaven, the result is a rather muddled account, that one imagines will be properly elucidated upon the release of a much more detailed director’s cut.
Indeed the film suffers from a lack of depth and nuance. There can be no real stakes when Robin Hood is characterised as an omnipotent hero – albeit it one with father issues – and the stellar supporting cast (Mark Strong, William Hurt) are relegated to the sidelines. And despite the inspired pairing of Crowe and Cate Blanchett, neither actor, nor Scott himself, escapes from the shadows of their previous epic successes.
Published by Street Press Australia
Australian release date: 13 May 2010