If you expect the new release of Robin Hood to mimic the storylines of the 1938 classic, The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Erol Flynn or the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, it won’t.
I almost skipped watching the movie because I wondered, how much can they change the same old storyline?” I was wrong, and almost missed strong performances from Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion.
Unlike the earlier movies, modern-day filmmakers would term this Robin Hood a prequel. That could be why the two previous versions weren’t just named Robin Hood minus the caveats to the title.
This version traces Robin’s roots. From service in the army of King Richard Coeur de Lion, aka Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston), to his childhood, through the use of flashbacks and the memories of Sir Walter Loxley, played my Max von Sydow.
After serving King Richard for many years, Robin ends up in stocks after answering the King’s question honestly. Robin has had enough, and along with his band of men, including Little John (Kevin Durand), would leave as soon as they were freed from the stocks. Richard dies the next day during battle and Robin and his men are released.
Following the escape, Robin and his men come across the dying Robert of Locksley (Douglas Hodge), who is returning the king’s crown to England. Robin promises he will return the sword the dying knight took from his father Walter in Nottingham.
Once he returns the sword, Walter makes a deal with Robin to impersonate his dead son to prevent his land from being confiscated by the crown. In return, Walter will tell Robin about his past. Robin agrees, and finds himself with a ready-made family with wife, Marion.
With King Richard dead, and King John in control of England, Godfrey (Mark Strong) weasels his way into the king’s service as Earl Marshal of England while pillaging small villages and towns under the guise of collecting royal taxes and simultaneously helping the French plot to invade England.
Ultimately, King John promises the people of England concessions on taxes and equality if they will join the fight against the French.
Does he keep his promise? Does Robin get in the good graces of the king for his actions and heroics? Do Robin and Marion stay together? And, will there be a Robin Hood II?
Some of these questions are answered, and some remain to be seen.
Overall, the movie was good once I realized I was watching what should have been advertised as a prequel. Since I didn’t know it from the start, I probably didn’t get the full impact of the movie, but it is still worth watching.
Next week’s review: When in Rome starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Anjelica Huston and Will Arnett.