REVIEW: Robin Hood

Not feeling well today, I opted for a movie.

I went to Robin Hood.

I wish I had stayed home.

This movie is really bad.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse… it did.

The credits are still rolling. Get me out of here.

If I had a gun to my head to find something positive… some of the music was okay. Of course modern effects can do amazing things.  Some characters were fine. There were some interesting animation effects in the credits… like paintings… interesting. But it was a long wait to get to this point.

UPDATE 15 May 1357 GMT:

The Catholic Herald’s review.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    No one who enjoys movies is likely to agree with any one critic all of the time, but Steven D. Greydanus has a gift for movie criticism:

  2. LouiseA says:

    Before going to see a movie, I always check it out on this site:

  3. B.C.M. says:

    I could have told you that it looked like the worst film in theatres right now. I like historical films, and I can abide some license… But this film just LOOKS wretched.

  4. janek3615 says:

    Thank you for posting these reviews. I usually like Russell Crowe and might have spent money on this bomb.

  5. seanl says:

    The fact that it was Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott together again gave me hope. But now I don’t think I want to see it. I had thoughts it might go the way of Troy.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    thanks for the warning

  7. Rachel says:

    I was already going to avoid this movie. Russell Crowe looked far too ponderous and gloomy to play the light-hearted, light-footed Robin Hood. Now I’m doubly glad I won’t waste the money. Thanks for the links, Charles!

    Here’s the Errol Flynn classic Robin Hood in 5 seconds:

  8. I agree with Rachel, Father, the Erroll Morris version is quite good. The music is by one Erich Wolfgang Korngold, an acknowledged master in the world of film composition as well as classical music.

    The Disney version of the story also isn’t bad. The great Peter Ustinov provides the voice of Prince John.

  9. sejoga says:

    I was going to go see this as I’m the world’s biggest Cate Blanchett fanboy, but I’ve heard so many negative things about it I began to waver, and this post is pretty much the nail in the coffin.

    Thanks, Father, for saving me 10-ish bucks.

  10. Maltese says:

    Ridley Scott is, next to Mel Gibson, the most brilliant and original director in Hollywood. I loved his White Squal, as would all those who like the book, “Master and Commander”:

    Gladiator was amazing as well. I haven’t seen his “Robin Hood” yet, but gives me hope I will like it. My 12 year old son and I shall see it and cheer!

  11. Margaret says:

    I am so disappointed. I had high hopes for the Crowe/Scott team to be the ones to finally do the first decent Robin Hood since Errol Flynn (which was silly, but loads of fun at least.) Dang.

  12. RichardT says:

    Russell Crowe apparently left in a sulk halfway through a BBC interview, after being questioned repeatedly about the accent he used for Robin Hood.

    But then Kevin Costner couldn’t do an English accent for Robin Hood either, and his version was hilarious (except I suspect Costner never saw the joke).

  13. liongules says:

    Well, it just shows there’re all kinds of people with different kinds of taste. I saw Robin Hood today with a friend and both of us thoroughly enjoyed it! Is it Academy Award material, NO!, but it was very entertaining.

  14. Traductora says:

    I thought it was klutzy and awful, and while I didn’t expect a profound historical film, I was really amazed by the level of faux history in this one. However, the battle scenes, especially the one on the beach with the French landing, were good. Oh, and there were lots of beautiful horses in it. Focus on the horses if all else fails.

    That said, everybody else in the theater appeared to be loving it, so – de gustibus and all that.

  15. Susan the Short says:

    I haven’t seen it, but in its favor, it is producing hissy fits in the lib media.

    They are calling it the Tea Party Movement of 1199.

    Instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor (which is the Democratic Party platform ) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is about striking back against high taxes and oppressive government.

  16. Alison says:

    This is so sad but I really didn’t plan on seeing it because I think Russell Crowe is too old to play Robin Hood. Of course there would be the obvious reasons that I would love Robin Hood. He fought for the good King Richard the Lion-Hearted. He gave resistance to the over taxation by the evil King John by stealing back the money and giving it to the rightful owners. I didn’t realize until I was reading H. E. Marshal’s story of Robin Hood to my children that he also was able to use his tactics to get a High Mass sung for him and his merry men by a Bishop no less. This version can be purchased from Yesterday’s Classics.

    “Little John brought the Bishop’s money bags and counted out five hundred pounds upon the ground.

    “Now let him go,” said Robin.

    “Master,” said Little John, “it is a long time since I have heard High Mass sung, or indeed since we have had any service except what Friar Tuck gives us. May the Bishop not sing Mass before he goes?”

    “You are right,” said Robin, gravely rising and laying his hand on Little John’s arm. “I have to-day much to be thankful for. The Bishop shall sing Mass before he goes.”

    So in the dim wood, beneath the tall trees which formed an archway overhead, as if they had been in a great cathedral, Robin and his men, and the Bishop and his men, friend and foe, knelt together side by side while the Bishop sang Mass. The birds joined in the singing and the trees whispered the amens.

    The Robin called for the Bishop’s pony. He set him on it and let him and his men back to the broad path through the woods.

    There he took leave of them. “Go,” he said the Bishop, “thanked God for all His mercies to you this day, and in your prayers, forget not Robin Hood.”

  17. wanda says:

    Sorry to hear you are not feeling well, Father. Nothing serious, I hope. Will say a prayer for your speedy recovery. Maybe it was all that talk about dog meat, ick.

    I am a huge fan of Russell Crowe since Gladiator. I will probably go to see the movie. I really, really liked the other Robin Hood, too, with Kevin Costner.

  18. Timbot2000 says:

    You should have seen Iron Man 2 instead, 2 hours of pure movie fun IMHO, with 1st calss performances by Downey, Paltrow, and Rourke.

  19. yatzer says:

    I was looking forward to Robin Hood, since I loved the story as a kid. Russell Crowe is a good actor, too. However your evaluation was about the same as others I know who generally react the same as I do to films, so I guess this one isn’t for me.
    I have heard good things about Iron Man2, however, so that one might be a go.

  20. Sorry, as a medievalist I avoid “historical” movies set in my period that distort history and take themselves too seriously. E.g., Braveheart–great fun.

    This movie seems to fail on both counts (and not because Robin is a historical figure, he isn’t).

    The best remake of Robin since Flynn remains: _Robin Hood: Men in Tights_ (1993).

  21. Opps. Make that “unlike Bravehart”

  22. Zosimas says:

    Father Thompson,

    We are of one mind. Robin Hood: Men in Tights was without a doubt the the best Robin Hood since Flynn.

    “Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!”

  23. Jon says:

    My wife’s out of town for the weekend. As she dislikes shoot ’em or cut ’em up flicks, I took advantage last night and took my boys, 13 and 15, to Robin Hood.

    Wish we’d stayed home and played another game of Risk instead.

    The best part of the entire movie was Max von Sydow.

    The worst part of the movie was, at his death (I’m not giving anything away), the villagers made a public barbecue of him like so many pagan hottentots rather than the good Catholics they should’ve been. After the cliched praise of Moslems, and shots at the Crusades and the Church, though, I wasn’t surprised.

    Even my boys cringed.

  24. ckdexterhaven says:

    Russell Crowe…. meh. I know he has won an Oscar, but his acting lately consists of surly and surlier.

  25. JonM says:

    I’m not surprised much given the promotion spots indicated a lack of historical fidelity.

    @Jon, I knew they would have to include some anti-Crusade element to the movie! That is a requirement of Hollywood studios, I’m convinced.

    Kingdom of Heaven similarly warps history by portrays Saladin as a religious pluralist (insane), the Bishop of Jerusalem as coward (completely untrue), and Crusaders as barbaric rapists terrorizing Saladin’s sister (a discredited tale of the Gallicanism age.)

  26. Charles E Flynn says:

    Steven D. Greydanus has posted links to three of his essays about movie criticism. If you care about movies, their influence on our culture, and the issue of discerning what is suitable for various viewers, these essays are well worth your time:

  27. chloesmom says:

    It cannot be much worse that Kevin Costner’s abomination — but I will see it on cheap Tuesday and make my up my own mind. Anything by Crowe and Scott, with Cate Blanchett, can’t be all bad. (Though I will always hold the two “Elizabeth” films against her.

  28. chloesmom says:

    oops, I meant “than” Costner’s abomination … BTW, my own favourite Robin is the late great Richard Todd, of “The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men” a Disney flick from the 50’s.

  29. RichardT says:

    No, no, chloesmom – the Costner version was hilarious. Watching Costner playing it straight, thinking he was making a serious movie, whilst everyone else around him was massively over-acting, camping it up and generally enjoying themselves. Even Morgan Freeman, who starts off playing it seriously, is reduced to farce by the end.

    The only thing I can’t decide is whether the director intended it to be serious and lost out to the actors who decided it was ridiculous, or intended to make a farce but didn’t tell Costner. But given that it starts with Brian Blessed trying to play a tragic character, and ends with Sean Connery trying to play an English King, I suspect the latter.

    That’s why the Mel Brooks “Men in Tights” didn’t work for me – “Prince of Thieves” was just beyond parody.

  30. Dr. Eric says:

    I gotta go with the Disney version with Robin Hood as the fox and Little John as the Bear from Jungle Book (same voice too.) Prince John as the snake from Jungle Book was also a nice addition (with great voice acting by Terry Thomas.)

    Although, I thought the end of the Robin Hood movie with Costner in it had a nice surprise by having Sir Sean Connery as King Richard.

  31. sawdustmick says:

    My wife has just read this post. She then said to me, “Father obviously didn’t hear me (all the way from Wetsminster Diocese) – This film is BAD”. Still laughing – sorry Father.

  32. Jordanes says:

    The Catholic Herald’s movie review stops abruptly halfway through, and then without warning turns into a review of a movie about Benito Mussolini. For a moment I thought Ridley Scott had completely lost his mind in his usual unforgiveable historical revisionism. “Mussolini??? I don’t remember any Mussolini in medieval English history or in the Robin Hood legends!!”

  33. Emilio III says:

    I think the best comment was on Insight Scoop:

    I’m a little bummed: I had hoped this movie would avoid the politically-correct nonsense of stealing from the rich medieval heritage to feed poor contemporary myths and biases. Silly me.”

  34. bookworm says:

    “You should have seen Iron Man 2 instead”

    I second that comment… me and hubby and daughter just went to see it, and we loved it. Non-stop, fast paced action without being overdone.

  35. Melania says:

    I just saw it. Loved seeing Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, but the screenplay was a disaster. The audience was laughing at points where they weren’t supposed to laugh.
    Brian Helgeland wrote this embarrassment. Funny. He also wrote the screenplay for “L.A. Confidential” which was a very good movie … violent but good. He did a good job in that case of taking James Ellroy’s very big, complex novel and making a coherent two hour movie out of it. Maybe when asked to come up with a plot on his own, he just can’t cut it. He’s also responsible for “Green Zone.” ‘Nuff said.

  36. irishgirl says:

    I didn’t see it-why do today’s film producers and directors have to put a ‘politically correct spin’ on historical personages and events?

  37. Latter-day Guy says:

    Huh. I actually had a good time. The film wasn’t amazing, but I found it enjoyable. Reminds me of that line from Pauline Kael: “Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them.”

    I thought the scene, where Max von Sydow helps Russel Crowe recover “repressed memories” from his childhood, was pretty hokey––I kept hoping that von Sydow would start saying, “The power of Christ compels you…”

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