Cannes Review: Ridley Scott's Robin Hood - It's No Gladiator
by Alex Billington
May 12, 2010
I know it's not exactly ideal to instantly compare Ridley Scott's Robin Hood to Gladiator, but I can't really help it, especially because Gladiator is one of my all-time favorites (and a nearly flawless film), and because Russell Crowe is a little too similar to Maximus Decimus Meridius while playing Robin Longstride in Robin Hood. I finally saw the movie earlier today in Cannes and it's not terrible or a failure, like some people have been saying, but it's not great either. It's definitely no Gladiator, and although Ridley's production values are speculator as always, the story felt a little muddled and it lacked the true epicness of Gladiator overall.
While we all know the story of Robin Hood (e.g. steal from the rich, give to the poor) this movie had nothing to do with that story. Well, not entirely at least, and as you may have heard (and this isn't a spoiler), it ends saying "and so the legend of Robin Hood begins." Over the course of the movie we see how (like Gladiator) a commoner named Robin Longstride deceptively works his way up the ranks in feudal, medieval England to prevent the French from invading and become a hero and a legend. And as interesting as that may sound on paper, the script is where most of the problems lie, especially in the middle where it just felt muddled.
Despite that very rough story, Robin Hood does have a lot to admire, from its great production values to the impressive cast with quite a few very memorable performances (from Mark Strong, William Hurt, Max von Sydow and Scott Grimes), but it just doesn't seem to live up to the level I usually expect from Ridley Scott. And it's not really his fault because he seems to deliver excellently on all of the aspects that he could, but it was the script and the story and the way it came together in the end that dragged this down. There were just too many characters introduced too often (and some never got any explanation even though they needed it).
I can't say I loved it, but I did enjoy some parts of it, almost anything with action (Scott is still a master at that) and I did enjoy watching Robin's story and his rise to the status of legend. Although I wish we could've seen more of the story after that point (when he actually becomes Robin Hood and meddles with the Sheriff of Nottingham), it ended right at the point where it would've started to feel too long anyway, so maybe that's a good thing. This Robin Hood needed to be more epic and more polished to truly be spectacular movie up there with Gladiator, and while it isn't one of Scott's best movies, it definitely is not one of his worst either.