Robin Hood - Blu-ray Review - CLIPS ADDED!
By Jeff Swindoll Sep 21, 2010, 15:43 GMT
Robin Hood chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin Longstride (Oscar winner Russell Crowe) travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion (Oscar winner Cate Blanchett), a woman skeptical of the identity and motivations ...more
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe team up for a trip to Sherwood Forest in what could be called Gladiator Hood.
That’s part of the gag since the duo have gotten tired of being asked for a sequel so they’ve made Robin look as close to Maximus as a visual gag.
However, the film is more of a prequel to the Robin Hood tale.
In 1199, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is an archer in the service of the king, Richard the Lionhearted (Danny Huston), during the Crusades.
Robin and three other soldiers, Alan A’Dale (Alan Doyle), Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes), and “Little John” (Kevin Durand), earn the ire of the king and are put in stocks.
When the king is killed during the siege of a castle, the imprisoned men see their chance to desert and head for home. Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), confidant of the king, takes the crown and heads for London to inform of the death and so that Prince John (Oscar Isaac) can ascend to the throne.
King Phillip of France (Jonathan Zaccai) has his eye upon invading and conquering England and has employed Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong), whose loyalties lie with France, to do so.
First order of business is to intercept and assassinate King Richard, who they do not know is already dead. They do intercept the party escorting the late king’s crown and murder them, although the crown is on the king’s horse that bolts from the slaughter.
Robin finds the horse and his merry men who track it back to the site of the ambush. Robin comes upon the dying Loxley and swears to return his sword to Loxley’s elderly father Sir Walter (Max von Sydow). They also assume the identity of the murdered crown bearers because they know that it will get them back to England.
After depositing the crown with John, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins), mother of John and Richard, the royal mistress Isabella (Lea Seydoux), and royal advisor William Marshal (William Hurt), Robin heads for the Loxley estate in Nottingham.
When Robin arrives with the bad news of Loxley’s death the wily Sir Walter comes up with the scheme that Robin will masquerade as Robert since Robert’s wife Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett) cannot inherit the estate since women are not allowed to do so. Robin is smitten with her so it’s not a problem.
What is a problem is when John disposes Marshal and appoints Sir Godfrey in his place and also decides to tax the country to make up for lost funds, giving the duplicitous Godfrey the power to squeeze the money out of England.
Nottingham is seen ripe for picking and Godfrey has a score to settle with Robin, who will discover that his past is closely tied to Nottingham.
The legend of Robin Hood has been around so long that the origins are lost to time. Was he a fed-up aristocrat who rebelled and was hunted by the crown or was he a normal citizen rising against fiscal tyranny? Were his origins based on a real person on just on the idea of “stealing” from the rich to give to the poor?
Ridley Scott’s film began its production in a traceable timeline. The project was shopped titled as Nottingham and was a completely different plot. The hero would be the Sherriff of Nottingham (presumably played by Crowe) and would be told from his point of view, therefore making Robin Hood the bad guy.
Although an intriguing idea, Crowe says that the screenplay came across as CSI: Sherwood. So Scott and Crowe, who also produced, decided on a day one rewrite to make it fall into more traditional Robin Hood territory - to a degree.
Although the film as made comes across as a prequel to the legend that we all know, it still offers a gritty and realistic take on the character. The film also takes those competing origins and combines them into one. Expect people of the time to get dirty and in the mud.
Though they do mention Gladiator, the Scott project that Robin Hood might more closely follow is Kingdom of Heaven (set 20 years before this film). Ironically, much of the armor and some costumes were made for Kingdom and the production rented them back from the rental house that they were sold to.
I’ve seen some reviews that complain that the film has a lack of heart or lacking the gusto of Errol Flynn’s version (any Hood film is always compared to Flynn, with good reason since it is the gold standard). I’d respectfully disagree (though still loving Flynn) and found this new version rousing and enjoyable.
Crowe may not have the smile of Flynn, but he does offer a certain dour charisma (I kept thinking of Sean Connery and even flashing to the time that Connery played Robin in a similarly gritty take on it).
Scott certainly knows what to do with a camera. The film may have a deluge of villains, Strong is the more dastardly, Zaccai plays as a self-serving liar only out for himself but seems in the background compared to Strong, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfayden) is around but only a minor mischief maker, and even Richard is portrayed differently than he usually is and not exactly on good terms with his Robin and his men not the returning hero of most every other Hood film.
Cate Blanchett is a women’s lib Marion who helps out the “Lord of the Flies” orphans of Sherwood, but still has enough strength, sexiness, and femininity that we see why Robin falls for her.
The remainder of the cast (Hurt, von Sydow, our Merry Men, Mark Addy as Friar Tuck, etc.) also has moments enough that they make an impression. It’s certainly a great, modern take on the legend. The final coda also makes it sound like perhaps a second film would take on more of a traditional take on the material (hiding in Sherwood from the Sheriff, robbing the rich, giving to the poor).
Robin Hood is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). You get a theatrical cut (141 minutes) and an unrated version (156 minutes). Special features are in high definition unless noted and include the picture-in-picture “Director’s Notebook” that has production stills, storyboards (Ridleygrams), interviews, and a host of other goodies.
Next are 13 minutes of deleted scenes that start with an introduction with editor Pietro Scalia and an optional commentary by him as well. The 62 minute “Rise and Rise Again” is a comprehensive, standard definition three-part making of that covers pre-production, production, and post-production.
The Art of Nottingham is a set of galleries (that also pop up during the Director’s Notebook). The Marketing Archive has two trailers and six TV spots (totaling 7 minutes).
The disc is also BD-Live enhanced, has bookmarking abilities, Pocket Blu enabled, and D-Box enabled. Disc two is a DVD copy of the film and disc three is a digital copy.
You can’t escape the buoyant spirit of Errol Flynn, but Ridley Scott’s gritty look at Robin Hood does have some smashing action and performances. Made even more smashing in high definition and great special features (although I still would’ve delighted in a Scott commentary).
I wouldn’t be surprised if another special edition is somewhere in the future, but this release has plenty to offer whether you be rich or poor.
Visit the DVD database for more information.
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&CCate Blanchett Biography -
Cate Blanchett Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesMax von Sydow Biography -
Max von Sydow Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesRussell Crowe Biography -
Russell Crowe Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sitesWilliam Hurt Biography -
William Hurt Links - M&C is not responsible for the content in external sites
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