Animadversion: Robin Hood – Review by Kamran Jawaid

below is the unedited version of the review that appeared in iMAGES on the 30th of May 2010

RobinHood_01

Bows, Arrows and Facts of the Fable

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

Once upon a time Sherwood forest played host to an animated fox (literary) with a feather in his cap and the name of Robin Hood. This Robin Hood had a harmless supporting cast of furry, sing-along, animals and their biggest threat, King John, sucked his thumb like a spoiled brat. Many decades and remixes later, Robin Hood, still a crackling shot with his rough wood-crafted bow, takes down French castles with pouched-bombs.

In this factuality of a may-have-been fabled hero by the regular team of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, the feather on the hat and the merry men are replaced by real-world history and a prologue.

But that doesn’t automatically make this Robin Hood a bad-deal. Clocking in some 2 hours, Brian Helgeland’s turn on the Robin Hood fable insists a different angle: an origin story, before the days of the hood (here the hood refers to its original meaning ‘the woods’) and robbing the rich.

For good measure Robin’s back-story includes a flashback sequence deep-rooting his links to the current scenario with a near-blind Sir Walter Loxley (an effective Max Von Sydow) whose son, Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) a Knight brining news of King Richard’s death to England is killed en-route. Loxley weighed down by illicit property law has Robin Longstride pose as his dead son. Robin, himself a deserter post King Richard’s death comes into a pseudo–hindi film scenario with Cate Blanchett, the widow Marion.

The romance isn’t instantaneous, but the sparks and side-by-side fighting recreates the image of a 20-something Marion and a Robin into love story of nearly 40-year olds. So they may be younger in the script, but both Mr. Crowe and Ms. Blanchett behave (and look) their age. Mr. Crowe is aware that his Robin is different from Gladiator’s Maximus. Low-priority weight of a bogus genealogy and a shiny twinkle is all he requires to restructure Robin into his image.

Mr. Scott, of recent, is very much into creating authentic ties to his story. Inserting a little political ambiguity here, a little Manga Carta there, he makes a pricy, and mellow, epic.

Still Mr. Scott takes his time setting up scenarios and his supporting cast: Kevin Durand (Little John), Mark Addy (Friar Tuck), the recent villain-in-demand Mark Strong (strongly marking his presence), Eileen Atkins as Eleanor of Aquitaine and the low-worthy King John (Oscar Isaac), a spoiled wimp wrapped around the little finger of Isabella of Angoulême (Léa Seydoux).

But at least Mr. Scott’s having fun with his history and constant zoom-ins, ‘though me thinks a reported $200 million price tag is a tad too much for a history session. Mel Brooks did it with a shorter budget, and it was fun too. So, was Errol Flynn and *gasp* Kevin Costner.

Robin Hood is rated PG-13. Has little arrow plays and minimal blood-shed. The interest it develops is flagged by its predictability.

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/bows-arrows-and-facts-of-the-fable-050

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