Movie Review: “Robin Hood”
Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) is a Lord of Nottingham. He lives alone in his mansion, but he has met a girl named Marian (Eve Hewson). Robin and Marian have fallen madly in love and are hopeful for their future, but everything changes when Robin is drafted to join the English army in the crusades. Robin goes off to war, but when he comes back years later, he learns that he has been presumed dead for over two years, Marian has moved on, and his mansion has been seized and left in ruins.
Robin has not returned to Nottingham alone, however. He is accompanied by an expert bowman, Little John (Jamie Foxx). Little John has become a mentor to Robin, and the two learn that Robin is not the only resident of Nottingham who has suffered from misfortune. In addition to seizing Robin’s property, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) has been severly taxing the people in order to pay for the war. Most of the population lives in poverty, while the Sheriff and Lords live in luxury. Thus, Robin and Little John set themselves on a mission to restore balance by stealing the taxed money and giving it back to the people. Unfortunately, this will not be an easy task, because by taking the taxed money, they are also stealing from the church and crippling the war fund, which is not something that will go unnoticed.
The Pros & Cons
Robin & John (+4pts)
The Hood & The Plot (-10pts)
The Action (+3pts)
Will & Marian (-4pts)
Ben Mendelsohn (+4pts)
The Costumes (-4pts)
Pro: Robin & John (+4pts)
My issues with Robin’s origin story withstanding, I found myself enjoying the relationship between Robin and Little John in this movie. Little John feels that he owes Robin a great deal, but on top of that, Little John sees an honorable man in Robin. Thus, he decides to teach Robin what he knows. The two make a typical dynamic, where Robin is the cocky young student, and Little John is the well-intentioned mentor who tries to keep Robin on a tight leash. We have seen these characters done before, but I liked the chemistry between the two actors. The characters were typical, but their chemistry made it feel fresh.
Con: The Hood & The Plot (-10pts)
This movie starts by immediately making me concerned for the direction that the filmmakers would take this story. During the first moments of the film, a narrator tells the audience to forget everything they think they know about this character. Basically, the filmmakers tell the audience, through narration, that they attempted to revamp Robin Hood. By doing this, the filmmakers admit to trying to drastically change the character. They basically made a Robin Hood, that is also a vigilante like the Green Arrow. It was like the filmmakers were given this project in the middle of them binging a bunch of seasons of Arrow. They even straight up call him “The Hood”.
They clearly made Robin a vigilante (more than a thief) as a cheap attempt to make a modernized action hero out of the character, but they did not add anything interesting to his story. He still steals from the rich and gives to the poor, but the character is fairly one-dimensional. Who Robin is at the beginning of the second act, is who he is throughout the rest of the movie. This makes the plot boring and predictable, because the character does not have any development or growth. It is a poorly written character and a poorly written plot. The result is a lazy attempt at modernizing this character.
Pro: The Action (+3pts)
The action was decent. It was nothing special, but it kept me entertained while arrows were flying. I liked all of the archery, but it was the war-zone vibe that I liked the most. We see Robin fighting as an archer for the English army in the crusades, which provided some cool scenes. We see him in a unit of other archers, and the whole thing ends up feeling like a chaotic war-zone. This was cool to see, but the later action sequences maintained this vibe. When Robin tries to rob the bank, and when he goes to the mine, he is met by a ton of enemy soldiers, and takes them on using his bow and a whole lot of arrows. The action felt hectic and, while it was not amazing action, it was entertaining while it was happening.
Con: Will & Marian (-4pts)
These characters were a prime example of the filmmakers trying desperately to set up a franchise. Marian is the love interest to Robin, sure, there is no problem with that. Will, however, was only in this movie to set up the next movie. Marian and Will are a couple when Robin comes back from war. This adds tension to this movie, but the amount of screentime and development that was given to Will made it seem like the filmmakers were more concerned with setting up sequels than they were with making this movie good. Case in point, Will gets a lot more development than Robin does. Rather than make the main character interesting in this movie, the filmmakers developed a side character that would not have any pay off until a sequel.
Pro: Ben Mendelsohn (+4pts)
Ben Mendelsohn is a great actor and, while his character is severely one-dimensional, he does the best he can to make the character interesting. He is one of those characters who just wants power and is evil for the sake of being evil. There is nothing more to the character, but Ben Mendelsohn made the movie so much more entertaining when he was on screen. He is always able to add a ton of intensity to his roles, even when the characters’ stories do not have much to them. You know exactly where this character’s story is going, but Ben Mendelsohn made it interesting anyway. There was a lot I did not like about this movie, but it was definitely better for having this talented actor playing the main antagonist.
Con: The Costumes (-4pts)
I had seen this complaint in a number of reviews, and honestly thought it was ridiculous that people were mentioning the costumes as a reason for why they did not like this film. I mean, come on, it is crazy to think it matters that much, right? I have never seen a movie where costumes have been that crucial in determining my opinion of a movie. After seeing Robin Hood, I can no longer say that.
The costumes just felt so out of place that it was visually jarring. The most blatant examples of this were Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham. At times, Robin seems to be wearing stylish dress shirts, but it would not really be noticeable (or I would have been able to look past it) if it were not for the Sheriff of Nottingham’s costume. The Sheriff of Nottingham wears what looks like a high quality leather coat from a store like Macy’s or Guess. Sure, this is a fictional story and these are fictional characters, but the movie is still a period piece. Most other characters are wearing appropriate costumes, but the Sheriff of Nottingham’s costume was so out-of-place that it continuously pulled me out of the movie. This is the first movie I have seen, where costumes have played such a major role in determining my opinion of a movie, but let us hope this is also the last.
Grade: D+ (68pts)
I was hoping this would be a good movie because I like Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, and I thought a modernized take on the role could be interesting. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were so concerned with giving this character an origin story and making him a vigilante, that they forgot to make the character interesting. He gets almost no development, so ends up being fairly one-dimensional. The same is true for the film’s antagonist. Ben Mendelsohn adds a ton of intensity to the role, but his character was written very poorly.
I liked the dynamic between Robin and Little John, and I liked the action to an extent. Unfortunately there was not much more going for this movie. The bad definitely outweighed the good, in my opinion. This is a movie that I wanted (so badly) to be good, but the filmmakers did not give the characters any interesting development, which made the movie feel stale and meaningless.