A tale of the re-distribution of wealth seems to be a very apt plotline for the year. In the midst of recession and political overhaul Robin Hood could have been a significant film in a time of economic and political uncertainty.
But who needs to make a political statement when you can have Russell Crowe charging into battle slow-mo charge into battle and POV arrow fire at the bad guys?
An origins tale that nicely sets up for a sequel, Riddles and co seem to have taken a leaf from the back stabbing, plot thickening storylines of 24 turning Robin Longstride, fearless archer and loyal subject into Robin Hood, wanted outcast of Nottingham and nemesis to a jealous king.
Action packed with fleeting moments of humour writer, Brian Helgeland seems to have gone all out to make this repackaged and rebranded Robin a very different character to the swashbuckling arrogant but lovable rogue gone before.
The death of Richard the Lion Heart King leaves a hole in the throne ready t be occupied by the self proclaimed runt of the family, John. A Blackadder performance played with slippery finesse by Oscar Issac the petulant King seizes the crown with an iron grasp for the countries money.
Having severed ties with the old fuddies of the court John puts his trust in old friend, Godfrey (Mark Strong) to get his taxes by any means necessary, unknowing that Godfrey has made new allegiance with the King of France to bring England to it’s knees in an age of unrest.
Meanwhile Robin Longstride is making his transformation into Robert Loxley at Loxley Senior’s request to continue the family name when he is dead and in exchange will provide Robin with information about his hazy past.
Gone is the iconic forest of Nottingham that serves only to hide the lost boys of the twelfth century, who appear to have gone postal and feral in their attempt to escape taxes and an unsympathetic monarchy (something we can all relate to).
Mark Strong, an ever impressive baddie is the only character that can be fully relied upon to be the bad guy and stay the bad guy. His scarred face and eye liner serve to make him more sinister but end up undermining his already established villainous look.
Not a pair of tights to be seen on Russell Crowe as he and his band of questionable accents takes on this iconic role. Crowe is likable as our noble hero but swap the chainmail for sandals and this might as well have been set in the arena and been called Gladiator.
Ridley seems to drag out his transition from Longstride to Loxley and follows much debate with more fight sequences that start to resemble Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan beach landing rather than a twelfth century French fleet attack.
Forty-five minutes of continuous CGI battling with Crowe thrown in the background for good measure begin to blur and attention begins to stray.
It’s not until Maid Marian and her band of lost boys turn up to fight that things pick up and Robin obviously ends up having to rescue his damsel in distress.
Cate Blanchett does away with the doe eyed damsel of Marians gone before and replaces her with a bitter, weather worn woman of pride and independence.
Having Robin hindered on the battlefield by her presence serves only to undermine the empowered character that Blanchett has just spent ninety minutes building.
One could wonder why they bothered rewriting her character at all but of course it’s all in the name of love and Robins rescue makes their romance that much more deserved and so should be forgiven, apparently.
Their fifth picture together, Ridley and Crowe are well established BFF’s and have made some great pictures but perhaps Robin Hood has proven it’s time to cut the apron strings and go it alone boys…