Universal/Big Home Video
The last time director Ridley Scott and raw material Russell Crowe teamed up, we got a gritty update on Spartacus. This time, the two combine forcesto get down and dirty with Robin Hood. For one, the hero in this movie isn't called by his rapper name, it's Robin Longstride, a longbow man, the equivalent of a sniper with specific enemy targets, and he's neither clean shaven (like Kevin Costner in the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) nor is he pointy bearded (like in all the adaptations since Douglas Fairbanks took up the role in the 1922 movie). What we get is the actual grit and grime of 12th century England where most of the scenes look as if it's in Chadni Chowk after a rainy day.
Robin is a returning soldier from Jerusalem in King Richard's army. Richard (Danny Huston) is shown to be not so lionhearted but more of a monarch with a bloodlust in the George W. Bush-in-Eye-Raq mould. As Richard dies and a French plot is hatched to usurp the kingdom of England, Robin assumes the identity of a knight, Robert Loxley, who dies in an ambush sprung by French hitmen as he is returning to England with the dead king's crown. On his return to England, Robin continues to 'play' Loxley. Loxley's father, a blind Sir Walter (Max von Sydow) knows that this is another man, but he accepts him as his son and tells his daughter-in-law Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) to accept Robin as her husband. The politics of it is pretty much 'eastern UP' — if the news of Loxley's death is made public, the lands of Nottingham that belong to the Loxley family that has no heir, becomes the property of the crown under King John (Oscar Isaac), a snivelling, paranoid, tyrant.
If the object of the film is to recreate the grime and muck of 12th century England, Robin Hood does a good job. There are no men in green tights or pointy hats; there is chain mail and a grungy look instead. But the problem is that nothing much seems to happen in terms of a narrative — it's there: good, strong man returns to put tyranny right, but you forget it once the title credits come up in the end. And you can see Crowe in Gladiator pop up all the time. Nice period, but no drama, alas.