The latest ‘Robin Hood’ adaptation is action-packed but bland.
Kernel Rating: 1 (1 out of 5)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 116 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. This updated spin on the ‘Robin Hood’ story is action-heavy, with battle scenes, hand-to-hand combat, a riot, lots of arrows shot by the titular hero, and a segment of the film that takes place during the Crusades. There are various punishments for crimes, such as a hand being cut off and a man being hanged, and people talk about violence and make threats against each other. Some kissing, some flirty behavior, some drinking, some cursing.
By Roxana Hadadi
The latest live-action version of “Robin Hood” desperately wants viewers to believe this is something different from the story you know, but the movie protests more than it delivers. The film has modernized its costuming and production design to set itself apart, but for the most part, “Robin Hood” just feels like a version of “Batman” with a bow and arrow instead of a utility belt.
Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton, of “Eddie the Eagle”) is a young man enjoying his life and his relationship with Marian (Eve Hewson) when he is forced to fight in the Crusades against the opposing Muslims. Far away from home for five years, Robin becomes increasingly disillusioned by the cause and disgusted by the violence of the war, eventually returning home when he can no longer stomach watching Muslim children be killed.
But his return to Nottingham is not what he expected. Five years away is a long time, and his lands have been seized by the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn, of “Ready Player One”), who wants to continue funding the Crusades, and Marian has moved on with Will Tillman (Jamie Dornan), and he learns that he was legally declared two years before. Unsure of what his purpose is, Robin teams up with the former Moorish fighter Yahya (who the movie calls “John”) (Jamie Foxx, of “Annie”), who encourages him to train hard and try to overthrow the Sheriff.
And so Robin takes on the identify of the Hood, using his bow and arrow to steal back the money the Sheriff and the Church took from citizens to support the war. His actions are in line with what Will wants, too, and so Robin begins to put together a band of resistance fighters who want to get rid of the Sheriff for good.
“Robin Hood” basically takes a video game approach to this story to add some excitement, but the modernized feel of those choices doesn’t entirely fit with the time period of this narrative. Men with bandanas pulled up over their faces while they march in the streets feel like one time period, whereas a battle field littered with bows and arrows feels like another; the movie isn’t successful in making those two worlds fit together. And the movie feels even more tonally disjointed when the Sheriff is giving his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim speeches, and when Robin starts being called “the Hood” — because he wears what looks like a hooded sweatshirt — like a comic book hero.
All these attempts to make “Robin Hood” something “new” feel hollow. What does it say about a film when a Disney animated version of this story from 1973 leaves a greater impact on viewers than a $100 million remake? “Robin Hood” gives audiences little to enjoy and even less to remember.
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