The Modernization of Robin Hood 2018
You liked Taron Egerton in the Kingsman movies. Let’s be honest, the Kingsman movies are probably the only Egerton movies most people have seen. It makes sense in today’s movie market that most people would have only seen those two movies. They were full of action, explosions, and spectacle. Based on the box office receipts it would also make sense to cast Egerton as Robin Hood.
There’s no reason to break down the story. The tale of Robin Hood is well known to every child. They can tell you how he stole from the rich and gave to the poor, how he and his Merry Men, Little John, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck, tormented the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and Prince John. They can tell you how Robin dared to come out of hiding to compete in an archery contest for the hand of Maid Marian.
Robin Hood 2018 has been “updated” compared to previous movies. Updated is a relative term. The time period is similar to other Robin Hood movies and Robin was in the Crusades (which begs the question why did he need training if he went off to fight in the Crusades, but this is not a piece on the historical inaccuracies of a CGI filled movie), but the rest is basically a garbage excuse to throw a lot of CGI at the audience.
While the time may be the same very little else in the movie would have you convinced you were watching a movie set in a medieval time period. The sets, costumes, and over the top action sequences have been updated for an audience that has become trained to see movies through a comic book lens.
A comic book analogy is the best description for Robin Hood. Robin plays a duel role in the movie. One is a noble and the other is the guy who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Robin is basically a medieval Batman. However, a rich guy dressing up as a bat to fight crime is more believable than anything coming from this movie.
If there was ever a case of a movie no one wanted and no one asked for it would be Robin Hood. What movies weren’t made because studio heads thought this was the movie to bring to theaters? It’s one of the worst cinema crimes a studio could commit.
There has to be better movies about Robin Hood than what’s in the movie theaters right now. Right? Let’s see.
ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991)
What can we say about Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that hasn’t already been said? We could mention how Costner’s English accent comes and goes, but that’s already been talked about in depth by other writers and reviewers. We could mention how the dialog switches from casual speak into flowery English prose. We could even ask whose bright idea it was to cast Christian Slater as Will Scarlet. We could say something about the Sheriff of Nottingham attempting to rape Marian at the end of the movie and why would anyone try to make rape funny.
RH:PoT has all the hallmarks of a really bad movie, but was it a bad movie? It all depends on your point of view. There are long shots of Kevin Costner, there are medium shots of Costner looking noble, and one embarrassing long shot of Costner swimming in a pond, naked. If you like a lot Kevin Costner you’ll like RH:PoT because it’s basically a Kevin Costner puff piece.
RH:PoT is a great movie if you’re an Alan Rickman fan. Rickman’s acting, as is the case with many of his villainous roles, is over the top. He steals almost every scene. In Prince of Thieves, Rickman masters the art of hamming it up. This is not the Rickman from Die Hard or the one pre-teens would come to like in the Harry Potter movies.
Is RH:PoT a bad movie? Yes, yes it is a bad movie and it is best left alone.
ROBIN HOOD (1991)
Patrick Bergin (Mountains of the Moon, Love Crimes) took on the role of Robin Hood in John Irvin’s 1991 production. Some elements from the original Robin Hood ballads can be found in this interpretation. Robin fights Little John (a younger and almost unrecognizable David Morrissey) only to become friends, the arrow competition is altered but remains in the story, and Robin’s surname is Hode as found in the original tales. A lot though has been changed for the movie.
Bergin’s Robin doesn’t lose his lands because they were seized by a corrupt official while he was away on the Crusades. In this version, Robin loses his lands and becomes an outlaw because he insulted Sir Miles Falconet (Jurgen Prochnow, Das Boot) and Baron Roger Daguerre.
The Falconet and Daguerre characters were never in the original Robin Hood tales and should have never been created for the movie. These two characters were created for the sole purpose of adding some “history” to the movie. However, any history of Saxons and Normans was lost in the overall ridiculousness of the movie.
Irvin’s Robin Hood is more comedic than what the director intended. The action scenes come off on screen as more Keystone cops than knights trying to stop an outlaw. The final scene of Normans, Saxons, rich people, and poor all coming together to live happily ever after is one of the lesser silly scenes in the movie.
You would be better off hiding in any forest than to watch this movie.
ROBIN HOOD (2010)
Ridley Scott brought a version of Robin Hood to the big screen in 2010. Except the outlaw to be in this version isn’t Robin of Loxley, but Robin Longstride. Longstride (Russell Crowe) impersonates Loxley long enough to escape France and return Loxley’s sword to his father who lives in Nottingham.
From the moment Longstride meets the elder Loxley Robin Hood becomes a flawed history lesson of Franco-English relations and the eventual signing of the Magna Carta. When Robin Hood isn’t giving the audience a history lesson it quickly becomes a Gladiator or a Braveheart. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this movie more than once and heard the inspiring speeches too many times for it to save Robin Hood.
Scott’s Robin Hood is a prequel of sorts to the Robin Hood tales. Robin Hood doesn’t need a prequel and it definitely didn’t need a prequel that essentially changes the Robin Hood tale we’ve all come to know and love. It’s a shame too because the Robin Hood cast is spectacular. When will ever see Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, Russell Crowe, and William Hurt in a movie together again?
ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993)
Let’s just put this out there right now: Mel Brooks is one of the funniest people to have ever walked the face of the earth. Period.
If you know anything about Brooks’s movies you know he likes to poke fun at movies and genres that seem to have gotten too big for their own britches. Some people may argue RH:PoT is so bad it’s a parody of itself, but it’s still prime for the Mel Brooks treatment.
Brooks doesn’t pull any punches in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Nothing in RH:PoT is off limits. Lines like Robin Hood (Cary Elwes) telling Prince John (Richard Lewis) people listen to him because unlike other Robin Hoods he has an English accent are direct jabs at RH:PoT. I’d like to think the chastity belt Marian (Amy Yasbeck) wears throughout the movie is in response to the attempted rape scene in Prince of Thieves. It’s through Brooks’s lens we can fully appreciate the wretchedness of the source material.
RH:PoT wasn’t meant to be a comedy, Men in Tights is pure comedy. Is it Brooks’s funniest movie? That title would have to go to Blazing Saddles or History of the World Part I or Young Frankenstein or The Producers.
ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976)
If Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010) is a prequel to the Robin Hood mythos Robin and Marian its sequel. Robin (Sean Connery) and Little John (Nicol Williamson, Excalibur) return home after years of fighting with King Richard (Richard Harris) in the Crusades. Nottingham has changed since they’ve been gone and not for the good. Prince John (Ian Holm), now King after the death of Richard, is still up to his petty games with the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw).
Robin and Marian is like the Grumpy Old Men of the Robin Hood movies. Robin, Little John, Will Scarlett (Denholm Elliot, The Indiana Jones trilogy) and Marian (Audrey Hepburn) are past their primes. However, that doesn’t stop them from trying to right the wrongs in old Nottingham.
It’s an older movie with zero special effects, but it’s still a better movie than Robin Hood 2018.
ROBIN HOOD (1973)
If your childhood was like mine and millions of other children it involved a lot of Disney movies. Some kids today may not remember a time when Disney was producing actual hand drawn animated features. One of those non-computer generated films was Robin Hood.
Disney’s Robin Hood is more or less a traditional retelling of the age old story with a few minor tweaks. Like most of Disney’s animated films animals take the place of humans. In this case, Robin is a fox. A fox, like the character in the ballad, is a sly, cunning critter. A fitting creature to go after Prince John, a lion, and the Sheriff of Nottingham, a wolf.
Robin Hood is a little more tame than other versions on our short list, but it is a Disney film geared more towards children and families. It’s a fun little movie to watch and even do a little reminiscing of days gone by. It’s a classic and you if you haven’t seen it watch it now.
What Does the Future Hold for Robin Hood?
We are well past the point of whether or not Robin Hood was a real man living in Sherwood Forest or a character in a ballad. Robin Hood, like other characters who have survived the test of time, is no longer the property of the original storyteller. These characters are now the property of the person re-telling their stories however that story may turn out.
Does anybody really want a Robin Hood movie? At best Robin Hood movies are hit or miss. At the worst Robin Hood movies are boring because we have seen it all before. If more Robin Hood movies are made in the future they should be so distinct and different to separate themselves from this most recent fiasco.
If you really, really need to see a Robin Hood movie keep the money you would spend at a theater and rent The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. It’s a classic.