Robin Hood (2010)

★ 1/2

If someone had told me last year that the two most disappointing movies of 2010 would be Tim Burton/Johnny Depp, and Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe collaborations, I might not have believed them. Sadly, this is how it turned out. Robin Hood was muddled, boring, and historically revisionist. I'm a huge fan of the surge of reinventions that have been turned out in the last few years, but Robin Hood crossed a line. It is fine to make up historical events, but it's another thing to re-write one of the most important events in human history. Worst still, unlike Gladiator, the historical fabrications actually detracted from the legend. This is Ridley Scott's fourth botched history lesson. He should stick to fiction.

Even if we ignore the numerous offenses against history, there is not much of interest in Robin Hood. It strayed too far from the original legend. The central point of the Robin Hood legend--reclaiming tax dollars from the rapacious Sheriff of Notingham--was hardly even an afterthought. The plot was too ambitious. Fabricating a connection between Robin Hood and the Magna Carta neither made the plot more interesting, nor did it make it more politically relevant. In fact, it undermined what ought to have been an extremely timely political message. Several commentator argued that Ridley Scott turned Robin Hood into an icon of the Tea Party. That is exactly the opposite of what he did. Rather, he took a tax crusader, and turned him into an crusader for representative government. The two are by no means incommensurate, but they are different issues altogether.

Perhaps the most dissatisfying part of the film is that it simultaneously attempted to de-mythologize Robin Hood, while leaving in several mythological aspects. The most notable of which would be the legend surrounding his lineage. The number of coincidences involved in this subplot could be forgiven in mythology, but not in a gritty realistic reinvention (which is what Scott presumably was trying to create.) This is especially true, given that the entire subplot was invented to make Scott's Quixotic point.

Aesthetically, the movie turned out about average. There was an early siege scene that was done quite well, though there were a fair share of scenes that were poorly done. Most notably, there were several musical scenes, most of which seemed like irritating fillers. There were also several scenes with extremely choppy cinematography that was hardly worthy of a made for TV movie. There wasn't really anything wrong with the acting. It was an average role for Russell Crowe--in other words, the role was better than average. Cate Blanchette was about as depressing as Scott intended her to be, so mission accomplished for her.

If you're just looking for an action flick where plenty of heads role, you may enjoy this. Otherwise, save your money. It was 140 minutes of my life I wish I had back. You can blame screenwriter Brian Helgeland if you like, but Ridley Scott set the creative direction. Besides, who in their right mind would hire the screenwriter who wrote The Postman?