“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Robin Hood

ROBIN HOOD (2018) was part 2 in my “have to be out of the apartment during certain hours but THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB starts too late” programming series. I probly shoulda just seen CREED II again, but you know how it is. Sometimes you want to see ROBIN HOOD.

Taron Egerton (LEGEND) plays Sir Robin of Loxley, a reverse Kingsman raised as a “spoiled toff,” he later fights with the commoners against the government, without his fancy clothes. The movie opens with a narrator bragging about how this is not the “bed time story” you know, and it kinda plays as a super hero origin story (in fact it was originally announced as ROBIN HOOD: ORIGINS). It’s a Robin Hood trained by his mentor John (Jamie Foxx [STEALTH]), a Muslim P.O.W. who, in an act of defiance, he freed during the Crusades, even though the dude had almost killed him. Through some decent training montages (sadly lacking in Stan Bush songs) he gets even better at shooting off a whole bunch of arrows real fast, including when whirling through the air in slow motion. Which I am in favor of. Much of the action (which includes exploding carriages and what not) is shot a little shaky to remind you of that not-a-bed-time-story thing, but luckily they can’t resist the occasional slow motion leap or rope swing.

I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s goofy KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, which this seemed to resemble in the advertising. It did sometimes remind me of the scene where the long range archer laid out his bow and arrows on a blanket in the style of a contemporary sniper. Here the Crusades (depicted as a bullshit war based on a lie) are clearly designed and shot to remind you of movies about American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their outfits are medieval takes on desert camo and body armor, they crouch and creep around corners of dusty structures with their bows up ready to fire, they get shellacked by machine-gun-like crossbow fire that explodes through stone walls, and it’s all got that slight yellow tinting that signifies “Middle East” (here called “Arabia”).

This goes for the costumes throughout the movie, designed by Julian Day (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES). Marian (Eve Hewson, BRIDGE OF SPIES) wears dresses and scarves not too medieval to be worn to a coffee shop. Many commoners wear almost-hoodies, and in a climactic uprising sequence they add bandanas over their mouths, and could be mistaken for modern anarchists or anti-fascists if not for the metal helmets worn by the riot cops who are clubbing them. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn, KNOWING) wears a powder blue leather duster.

And Robin has a jacket that looks like it could almost have a North Face logo on the back.


I got nothing against the story. Robin is a happy rich guy until he’s drafted and sees his side committing war crimes. Sent home, he finds his estate ransacked and Marian with a new man (Jamie Dornan, MARIE ANTOINETTE) under the impression that he’s dead. John convinces him that stealing from the taxes collected can defund the unjust war. The sheriff is an atheist conspiring with the Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham, LAST ACTION HERO), an asshole who brags about the church making up the concept of Hell to scare people. They’re war profiteers who get pissed at Friar Tuck (Australian comedian Tim Minchin). Tuck (who was the narrator at the beginning, it turns out) has a look that suggests Russell Brand was the first choice, and when he wore a hat I swear he looked like the eclectic bassist and producer Bill Laswell.

I got a kick out of that stuff, but this is no KING ARTHUR because it’s seriously lacking in giant elephant monsters with pyramids on their backs, and director Otto Bathurst (Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders) doesn’t seem as interested in flash, humor or absurdity as Ritchie. There’s some witty banter here and there, but the movie looks and feels a little too dour to seem light-footed. The d.p. is George Steel, but I looked it up and it’s not George “The Animal” Steele, it’s a guy who mostly shot British TV shows including Peaky Blinders. It’s not entirely desaturated, but personally I could use some more orange fire and blue clothing items to brighten things up. And how bout some red? We used to have so many colors and I guess in retrospect we took them for granted.

With all due respect to composer Joseph Trapanese (TRON: LEGACY, THE RAID, WOLF WARRIOR 2), I think the Zimmery bombast of his score is a problem too. It’s nice that it’s not the expected instrumentation for a Robin Hood movie, but I really think if the emphasis was on fun and adventure instead of intensity the whole tone of the movie would be improved.

It’s kind of funny that Foxx is playing Little John but his makeup and connection to Robin Hood make it transparent that he’s inspired by Morgan Freeman’s character in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. I wonder if the screenwriters of that got paid under the table? If not they oughta sue. Anyway I like action hero Foxx even if he’s never gonna match his DJANGO UNCHAINED badassness. And I like that due to a behanding he has a metal stump cover that works as a shield. I think part of the idea is that he was a great archer but with only one hand he can’t do it anymore. It doesn’t stop him from helping Robin improve his skills, but he’s unable to fulfill one of the duties of his Disney counterpart.


Mendelsohn is good, of course, and I’m thankful that it was somebody who’s always interesting to watch. But I’m not sure how different this guy is from ROGUE ONE‘s Krennick – even some of the outfits could almost work for both. I hope he doesn’t get stuck playing these think-they’re-superior evil politician villains forever. He was so much more exciting as, to name one example, the weird slimy creep in KILLING THEM SOFTLY.

I noticed this came from Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way. He should’ve played the sheriff. This won the battle between three competing Robin Hood projects fighting to make it into production.

If they were trying to make it seem Ritchie-esque that was a weird choice, because LEGEND OF THE SWORD has a terrible reputation, and this seems to be an even bigger flop. And it’s one of those sad movie-going experiences where I went in knowing that and then the ending very presumptuously sets up what would be the villain in the next one and you can only think “Oh, bless your heart.”

I’m sure I would’ve watched it, though, especially if I was locked out of my apartment.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018 at 11:52 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

16 Responses to “Robin Hood”

  1. “It’s kind of funny that Foxx is playing Little John but his makeup and connection to Robin Hood make it transparent that he’s inspired by Morgan Freeman’s character in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES.”

    It’s even funnier when you learn that the screenwriter of PRINCE OF THIEVES based Azeem on Nasir, a character he saw in an earlier BBC adaptation, thinking that character was taken directly from history/folklore. When that character turned out to be an original creation of the miniseries’ screenwriter, the makers of PRINCE OF THIEVES had to scramble to change the name so as not to get sued. So now we’re almost 30 years on from that fuckup and we’re at a point where everybody takes it as a matter of course that there was a Muslim in the Merry Men when there is absolutely no evidence, historic nor anecdotal, to suggest that. It’s just one screenwriter ripping off another screenwriter ripping off another until enough time passes and it becomes truth. It’s probably the most legitimately folkloric aspect of this whole enterprise.

  2. It will be a weird and funny surprise if the other person who saw this movie frequents and comments on this websight.

  3. It really seems hard to read this story as anything but a thinly-veiled critique of the Iraq war. But, wha? Was this actually written in 2004 and just sat around until it no longer made any sense when they finally decided to make it?

  4. So the Girl in the Spiderweb was the movie Vern wanted to see. Isn’t that another that recently came out that nobody liked?

  5. My dad watched the BBC version of Robin Hood when I was a kid, and I remember wanting to love it and thinking it would be so cool but being terribly disappointed. It did have one guy who dual wielded swords which I thought was awesome and formed the basis for much of my World of Warcraft career, but of course this is a quick way to get killed in a real medieval warfare setting. I don’t remember a Muslim in the show but I only watched maybe two and a half episodes before I got bored of the soap opera BS.

    Kevin Costner ROBIN HOOD is elevated greatly by Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, and Michael Wincott, and delevated by M E Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, and of course Costner. But it is kind fun to watch Costner fail.

  6. I saw Girl In The Spider’s Web. It’s allright.

  7. I wonder why these films feel the necessity to make Robin a nobleman. I know this isn’t a part of the original stories, and a quick search of Wikipedia tells me that this part of the legend doesn’t appear until the end of the sixteenth century. But wouldn’t it be better if they make the class warfare aspect of the character more explicit and more personal. Instead of being a nobleman who sympathizes with the little people, just make him of humble origins. We already have a ton of superheroes who are aristocrats using their wealth to help others. We don’t need to continually try to recreate Robin Hood in that mold.

    Otherwise, I’m down to catch the CW’s Robin Hood whenever it hits streaming.

    And one more thing: I still don’t know why Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur got such a bad reputation. It’s so much more fun and stylish than your average blockbuster.

  8. Just re-watched PRINCE OF THIEVES a couple weeks ago and that movie is a weird one to me- I don’t think I actually like it at all, but I can’t ever stop watching it if I happen to catch it. Kevin Costner’s refusal to even attempt an accent is borderline-hysterical, and there’s maybe two enjoyable performances in the whole thing (one of which only lasts about 20 seconds), but it just…draws me in somehow, like Mowgli being hypnotized by Kaa.

    Anyway, probably won’t see this one just because something about Taran Egerton’s face just sets me off. Barely made it through the first Kingsman and had to quit halfway through the second because every time the main character was onscreen I wanted to reach out and strangle him. Nothing against Egarton personally, I’m sure he’s lovely- this is a *me* problem.

  9. The Moor character from that Hollywood movie with Costner was plagiarised from Nasir in “Robin of Sherwood”, so Richard Carpenter’s ghost should be collecting royalties for that character and all the others flicks and TV series that copied his “exotic member of the Merry Men” formula afterwards… and there certainly have been many of those.

  10. I don’t know. I’m watching an anime series called Mad Bull 34 and all of my outrage is burnt out.

  11. I remember watching the BBC version of Robin Hood as a kid, but can’t remember anything about it, other than it blew my mind when in one episode Robin Hood died and was then replaced by a whole different Robin Hood. (The BBCs way to acknowledge the two different origin stories, that exist about this character.)

  12. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 4th, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    The Kurgan – you quit Kingsman 2 halfway through? Then you missed the best part! That climactic fight against Pedro was probably the most enjoyable fight scene of 2017. Its a shame you feel that way about Egerton, as I think he’s a charming dude, but do get that type of feeling you have with him. Personally have it with Casey Affleck and a couple others.

    Havent seen this ROBIN HOOD yet but I feel like I might end up liking it more than most others, depending on a few things that I’ll only know when I see it for myself. I really like the cast though and think the look of it seems pretty damn cool. I like the weird anachronistic clothes and the whole thing of using bows n arrows like machineguns.

  13. I really hated Egerton in KINGSMAN too. In all fairness, I hated the whole movie, but in terms of acting, he was the weakest part. However after seeing in him some other movies, I came to the conclusion that he is actually a really good actor.

  14. Did Wonder Woman really kill a bunch of people? It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I just remember that iconic scene that was all about running through a war zone NOT killing people. I figure I would’ve remembered her having a body count since people practically threw a march on Washington when a Superman fight wrecked buildings that were not specifically said to be abandoned.

  15. Adam: Why would you do that yourself…

  16. Anybody else find it strange that the final scene (bad guy holds up Wanted poster of Robin Hood but Robin from the shadows shoots an arrow into it before bad guy can nail it up) was an EXACT restaging of the final scene from the Russell Crowe ROBIN HOOD?

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