Taron Egerton Robin of Loxley
Jamie Foxx Yahya/John
Ben Mendelsohn Sheriff of Nottingham
Eve Hewson Marian
Jamie Dornan Will Tillman
Tim Minchin Friar Tuck
Paul Anderson Guy of Gisbourne
F. Murray Abraham Cardinal
Continuing with the weekends theme of Hollywood remakes/re-imaginings, I put Robin Hood into the old Blu Ray player for Saturday nights viewing. I have enjoyed the tale of Robin Hood and his band since I was a child. My father had given me a series of books when I was quite young that had all the classics, Count of Monte Cristo, Tom Sawyer, King Arthur, Three Musketeers, Robinson Crusoe and of course Robin Hood to name but a few. I loved those books and later in life enjoyed the films that were created as a result of these classics. So with these memories in place, I was looking forward to the latest version of the film. But before delving into this latest rendition of Robin Hood, lets take quick recap of other films that were made about Robin Hood over the years.
For decades I have watched many iterations of the film with varying opinions on their quality. In my opinion, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is still one of the best films telling the tale. I saw it for the first time when I was quite young, and while it may be a bit campy by todays standards, it had bright colours, humour and paid the proper amount of homage to the original tale. This early version of this classic is always worth watching, even if it does not match todays style of cinematography or special effects.
The next version of Robin Hood I remember watching was “Robin and Marian (1976)”, a tale of an aged Robin Hood and Marian. The cast was stellar for the day, Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the leading roles (Robin and Marian respectively) with Robert Shaw, Richard Harris, Denholm Elliot and Ian Holm rounding out the cast. This was a fair film, and I thought well done for the day. Especially as it was taking a new slant on the tale, and talking about the heroes when they were past their prime. But, I probably liked it more due to the fact Connery was just off his stint as James Bond and could really do no wrong at that time. (Ok, please forget Zardoz, that was just pure crap!). But it was still a very watchable film with some good acting to ensure an enjoyable experience.
In 1991, Costner tried his hand on the tale of Robin Hood. Titled Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, this movie while it had its own issues (accents, introduction of a Moorish character (Morgan Freeman)), also had an all star cast that kept you watching. The film had action, special effects, a recognizable story that ensured all the characters from the book were included plus a few others. There was great chemistry between Freeman, Costner and Rickman and the dialogue was both intriguing and at times funny. (Ok, again, please forgive Costner’s supposed British accent that would appear/disappear at a whim). Overall, a good film that can be watched several times, especially Rickman, who in my opinion stole every scene that he was in!
In 1993, a comedic take on the story of Robin Hood was released. Robin Hood: Men in tights: starring Cary Elwes hit the big screen. This farce was a parody of Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Nothing spectacular, but it was a light romp that would make you chuckle a time or two. I re-watched part of this film the other day, and it still made me chuckle. But even this farce did not destroy the legend of Robin Hood as this latest piece of fecal matter did, which I will get to eventually.
In 2010, Russell Crowe took on the mantle of Robin Hood. Still following the storyline (to a point), this version was a little darker, bloodier and more intense. I enjoyed this version even with it’s changes to the tale. The all-star cast made it extremely entertaining (Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Mark Addy and Kevin Durand to name but a few) and made this action packed film worth watching. As a matter of fact, I just might re-watch them all to get the bad taste of the latest version out of my head!
Now to the latest piece of fecal matter (or reboot) that no one asked for! It has some up and comers, some solid stars and a huge budget. But did this help make it a film worth remembering? Nay Nay my friend, Nay Nay. This flop with a huge budget of 100 million only grossed 30 mil in the US and 86 million across the globe (according to IMDB). After watching this POS, I can’t imagine how it could have made so much money? In this day of social media and everyone having an opinion on everything, (including me!) how could anyone in their right mind recommend this film to anyone? I just don’t understand it! Again, after watching the film, I did not understand this film either. Was it a rip off of the Matrix, Arrow, was there a Robin Hood story buried somewhere that I missed? This version stars Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx as the key players. Jamie Foxx is an accomplished actor with a resume of films that will make any actor jealous. Sure he has some questionable films, but look at his key roles, Django Unchained, Ray, Amazing Spiderman 2, The Kingdom, and Collateral. These were all great roles for him, not to mention great films themselves. Whatever made him join this production? Did he have a contractual obligation? Poor Agent? Lose a bet? I don’t know, but man o man, was this role a steaming pile of fecal matter. But I will get more into his character later. Now we have Taron Egerton, he is a bright up and comer. I have seen him in both Kingsman movies (first is better then the second) and from what I have heard about his performance in Rocketman, it was also lauded as a masterful. Now you have this…Robin Hood. No matter how much you polish it…still a piece of turd.
What makes this film so horrible…well where do I start? I guess with the concept or storyline if you will. The film starts in Nottingham where Robin Loxley (Egerton) is a rich lord who chases the ladies and spends his money foolishly, that is until he gets his Draft Notice from the Sheriff of Nottingham. Draft Notice? Really? Could they not think of something more apropos for the time period? Like maybe a royal summons? Anyway I have digressed and it is only the first few minutes of the film. He leaves Marian (Hewson) behind and goes off to war. This where it really starts going off the rails! However, I can’t forget to mention the Sheriff, who is wearing castoff costumes from the Matrix, to include a cape swish whenever he moves. Who comes up with this stuff! That must mean he is evil, but we will get back to him later. What ever they were smoking, I want some!
Robin (Egerton) is participating in the crusades, and hmmm, lets see, as a lord, he would have been a Knight, not running around in a get up that almost reminded me of the tactical vest I wore in Afghanistan. But that’s not all! He moves around the buildings, doing a sweep with his longbow like he is on Seal Team 6. Meanwhile, crossbows are firing him at him like Gatling guns, and the cross bow bolts are going through the stone and making explosive sounds. Ok, they are putting the tale of Robin Hood on steroids at this point, but something that is this overjuiced cannot keep level. Don’t the producers, writers, directors realize that the long bow is a distance weapon, not close combat? It is now after the battle and he returns to his “base” to see his commander, Guy of Gisbourne (Anderson) killing all the prisoners. Robin (Egerton) takes umbrage to this (now we have a tale of morality) and tries to rescue the young lad and the father who are prisoners. This turns to open rebellion and Robin (Egerton) manages to free Yahya (Foxx) and they both take off into the wild blue yonder.
Robin (Egerton) returns to England with Yahya (Foxx) closely following. Finding his manor in shambles, and now apparently property of the Sheriff. He also discovers that Marian (Hewson) is now married to Will Tillman (Dornan) and living out a “50 shades of Grey” fantasy. I think Tillman was supposed to be Will Scarlet…but again, they went so far off the mark it was hard to tell. He also finds out how corrupt the Sheriff and Cardinal are and how the poor populace are being robbed blind by the aforementioned miscreants. Yahya (Foxx) convinces Robin (Egerton) into becoming the Sheriff’s (Mendelsohn) inside man so that they can destroy him from within. Ok, I will be honest, this is the only good plot line in the whole film. Following his direction and also receiving instruction from Yahya (Foxx) on how to become a better warrior, just like a modern day Myagi and Daniel from Karate Kid! Robin (Egerton) figures out how to really make a long-bow a close action weapon and he learns to fight like the Arrow on Television. (Another blatant rip-off, not to mention the multi-arrow launch taken from the Costner version!).
In a nutshell, Robin (Egerton) starts robbing from the rich, giving to the poor, tries to win back Marian (Hewson) and does at least meet Friar Tuck (Minchin). I must say, he is the only character that I liked in the whole film...kind of a bumbling, well meaning village idiot. But at least he did it well. Of course he becomes victorious, over throws the Sheriff, exposes the Cardinal and hides into the forest.
I don’t know how I suffered through the whole film without literally tossing it into the garbage midway through. I can’t believe I paid 15 bucks for it! Having said that, the disc did not go into the collection, but went past go and directly into the Garage sale pile…Maybe I can pay someone to take it!
Ok, I have digressed yet again! Besides the crappy plot that I described above, what else was wrong with the film. Hmm…besides everything! I will try and be a bit analytical here.
Costumes: This was a melange of the worst pieces of various films. They tried to rip of the Matrix, The Arrow, high couture and modern day stylings. No matter what they tried, it just didn’t work. Robin (Egerton) looked like a poor imitation of Oliver Queen from the Arrow, with chain mail resembling a modern day tactical vest (that really is not tactical in this case) thrown in. Even the party scene was completely laughable, where was this director/writer going here?
Props: Molotov Cocktails, Long Bows with Brass Knuckles, Pleather, Quarter-staffs that looked like twisted walking sticks, explosive cross bow bolts, automatic cross-bows…and the list goes on. What other thing could they thrown in this film to make it more crap…hmm..I don’t know, maybe some costume cast-offs from Battlefield Earth?
Special Effects: ok, here I have to admit the effects were pretty good, even if they were not appropriate for the time period or film. Great explosions and fight scenes, they would have been better in Arrow instead of this film, but the effects and fight scenes were not bad.
Directing/Dialogue: Besides the story line itself, the dialogue and direction were so abysmal, it makes you laugh. There were tighter scenes in an old 3 stooges film compared to this, and the dialogue was far better!
Now it is time to take a look at the cast of this so called feature film.
Taron Egerton as Robin of Loxley: The first principal character in this poor example of cinematography is actually, what I believe an up and comer in Hollywood. I first saw him in The Kingsman and really liked the character he portrayed. The first Kingsman was great, the 2nd, still watchable, but not as good as the first. I have yet to watch Rocketman, but I have heard great things and am looking forward to giving it a try. If I am not mistaken, he even won awards for that film and was nominated for many more. I have to give him credit for getting instruction in archery and his physical acting. But I am sorry he did not have much to work on from a directorial standpoint or script. I truly hope that he can recover from this film and continue to make great films.
Jamie Foxx as Yahya/John: This was my biggest disappointment. Foxx is an extremely talented actor and for him to take on this role, it was just hard to digest. What made this role even worse, is that somewhere along the line, he gets morphed into “Little John” from the book with a cross of Mr Myagi. It was just hard to watch. Even for Foxx, who is talented and can carry comedy, action and drama (not to mention a musical number or two) he should be safe as this film really should not hurt his career, especially considering the that he has a solid base to work from. I must say, that through most of the movie, his facial expression looked pained…I think even he realized what a stinker this production actually was.
Ben Mendelsohn as Sheriff of Nottingham: I actually had to look him up to see where I had previously seen him. Even though he was in several films (some good, some bad) that I had seen before, I could not place him. In this film, dressed as combination Matrix/Mad Max type of Sheriff, he did not have much to work with. His script was weak, tiresome and extremely clichéd, pretty much like the character. I actually laughed at one point as he reminded me of Gary Oldman from the Friends episode…but the laugh I am sure was not meant to happen. Will wait and see what he comes up with next. I did see that he is in “The Outsider” series based on Stephen King’s book. Maybe he is better there.
Eve Hewson as Marian: As the “love” interest for this film, Hewson as Marian did not really add much to the film. Funnily enough, when she came on screen my wife and I both said, “where have we seen her before, she looked familiar”, so back to IMDB. Lo and behold, she was actually in Papillon the night before as his love interest. Though only for a few scenes. I think she may have potential, but from this farce it was kind of hard to tell.
Jamie Dornan as Will Tillman: As the husband to Marian, and the supposed Will Scarlet from the books, this character was laughable. Dornan played this role with the same skill and talent that he did for “Fifty Shades of Grey” … basically none at all. He is pretty much one dimensional and emotionless at all times. Even when he tries to emote…well, just looks like he is confused...very sad.
Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck: I actually liked this character. I hope he was supposed to be the comic relief for that is what he felt like. He made me laugh and his character gave the lighter notes to an otherwise dreary and horrible film. I still prefer the traditional character versus what was portrayed here, but at least his career should not be harmed too much from this atrocity.
Overall, as you can tell, my wife and I detested this film immensely. I would have stopped it 20 minutes in, but I did promise my brother aka “The Chairman” two reviews this week so we soldiered through. It was a time vampire, and sucked away two hours of my life that will never be returned to me! Would I recommend this trash? That is a big fat NO, but I do have some recommendations from some of the key cast members if you are looking for something good to watch.
Our rating 0/10 (if I could give negatives I would)
If you are interested in some GOOD films with the cast, please consider the following recommendations.
Taron Egerton The Kingsman, Rocketman
Jamie Foxx Collateral, Ray, Django Unchained
Till next time!