Robin Hood (2010)
As we have come to expect from Ridley Scott, his rendition of the Robin Hood legend is a grandiose tale of warfare, chivalry and simple good vs. evil. The scale and professionalism of the production ensures our immediate interest; everything from the sets to the costumes and (partly) the language takes us vividly back to the 13th century and bears promise of another classic film version of one of film history's most frequently portrayed historic figures.
Unfortunately, Scott cannot breathe much life or joy into his film, and it slowly chokes under its own weight. Brian Helgeland's screenplay has got too much ground to cover and is too preoccupied with political intrigue and the power struggle between various contemporary historical figures that remain more or less underdeveloped. The proceedings are all interesting enough on a separate level, but Scott's direction is too comprehensive, too ambitious on behalf of the viewer. As a result, we're continually taken aback by audacious battle scenes and clever schemes and plots, but we're left observing it all from afar. In addition to that, and worse still, we never get under the skin of the title character. Something for which Scott must share the blame with Russell Crowe's inhibited performance. It seems the Scott/Crowe partnership may need a rest.
Some of the other performers bring far more vigour to their parts, notably Cate Blanchett as Lady Marian, Max von Sydow as her father-in-law Sir Walter Loxley, and William Hurt as the stately William Marshal. Some of the best segments of this film evolve around these characters and their doings; it is through them that the film is at its most human and heartfelt.
In later years, new versions of famous stories have tended to feel the need to go deeper, feel darker and be more realistic. And while this can give the stories more edge and indeed make us feel that we're watching real people from a bygone time instead of simple and carefree adventure (which has often been the case with the Robin Hood saga), it's also quite easy to fall into the trap of draining the fun out of the stories. And in the case of Robin Hood, the fun and a sense of adventure is in short supply, despite a promising start. The film may be realistic in its anthropological aspects, but I'm not so sure about the story, which seems like a Hollywoodized suggestion of what made Robin Longstride into Robin Hood, and not what made Robin Hood into a legend.