Topic: Robin Hood (2010)

I'm twenty minutes in.  I've stopped the movie.  I'm not impressed.  There's a good two hours left.  I like Ridley Scott.  I like Gladiator.  Is it worth it?

Re: Robin Hood (2010)

For what it's worth I enjoyed it. However I've been led to believe I'm of the minority in that opinion.

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Re: Robin Hood (2010)

I went to see 'The Runaways' instead, so I'm biased. We *almost* regretted the choice when the Robin Hood trailer came on, but I'm still happy I saw runaways instead.

I'll still check out the film, but if it's not even grasping your attention after 20 minutes, something's wrong.

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Re: Robin Hood (2010)

It's not so much that it doesn't have my attention.  Honestly I think so far what's bothering me has to do with the portrayal of King Richard.  "Let's get these French bastards so we can go home to Nottingham!" What?  From what I understand Richard was more French than English, barely spoke any English, and spent almost none of his reign in England.  He used his kingdom as a source of revenue to pay for his crusade.  Must have had a heck of a press writer.

I get that the facts of history don't always make for the best drama (I recently caught Pearl Harbor again, and my brother-in-law who is a huge WWII buff kept up a running commentary of the films historical failings).  I also get that the story of Robin Hood isn't exactly set in stone.  I guess I just expected that if there was an Englishman who could tell this story, it would be Ridley Scott.

Ok Ridley, show me what you've got.

Re: Robin Hood (2010)

Don't get me started.... must stop... blood coming out of eyes...

I hate this movie. It's just as bad historically as Gladiator and Braveheart sure, but then it's a boring, incoherent, badly cast trainwreck of a movie with little to no redeeming entertainment qualities.

For christ's sake, there's a moment where two horses kick in the heavy wooden door to a fortified town... you know, those doors that are built to withstand battering rams?

I'm so not surprised you switched off - the opening is atrocious. From the badly written and pointless title card to the unexciting siege of Chalus (which shock fucking horror was actually where Richard was at this time...).

The moment when Richard yells "Kill the French" I knew we were in trouble... but by the end it's almost a parody. Imagine if Forrest Gump lectured Nixon about Watergate and shamed him into resigning - that's pretty much the absurdity of what Robin Hood does in this film.

And you're correct Matt - Richard spent about 6-9 months of his reign in England but thanks to the Victorians we English now laud Richard as one of our greatest national heroes. They've got a great statue of him in Westminster outside Parliament and it's hard not to be impressed.

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Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. - Carl Sagan

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Re: Robin Hood (2010)

Update: tried to watch a bit more last night, but only made it as far as their arrival at The Tower of London, and the ensuing moment of "oh fuck..."  To be fair I had just come off a full eight hours running around at work.

RedXavier wrote:

It's just as bad historically as Gladiator and Braveheart sure, but then it's a boring, incoherent, badly cast trainwreck of a movie with little to no redeeming entertainment qualities.

I think that really sums it up.  I mean, Robin Hood is very much like Gladiator, in that it's a purely fictional story where the story takes place around real historical people / places / events.  Whereas, in Braveheart and Black Hawk Down the stories are supposed to depict actual people / places / events.

When I saw Braveheart, I knew nothing about Scottish history, and I think I enjoyed it more because of it.  Black Hawk Down was a story I was very familiar with when I saw it, and was definitely part of why I didn't care for it.

Since then I guess I've developed this need to see history reflected with some degree of accuracy in film.  When I saw Bonnie and Clyde a couple years ago I was disappointed to later read their historical account, and find that in this case, the history was more interesting than the film.

I think a cooking analogy of some kind would work well here, because historical events are rarely very good as films in their "raw" form.  You need that bit drama, that something extra to make it more palatable, but it's easy to go too far.  It's also easy to get the order wrong.  If I order a steak, I might be able to forgive being served a hamburger if it turns out to be really good, but if I'm served a veggieburger, I'm leaving the table.

If I'm going to watch, or ask others to watch, a film that takes place in a fairly well documented part of history, then one of the following scenarios should play out: 1.) If I'm not familiar with that part of history, I'd like to learn something from the film that is based on those historical facts. 2.) If I am familiar with that part of history, don't insult my intelligence.

Granted the whole Richard / John / Robin Hood story is so skewed by popular belief that the chances of even Ridley Scott getting it right were slim, but as an Englishman, I was kind of hoping he'd have a bit more respect for his own history.

Re: Robin Hood (2010)

Finished it the other night.  I do appreciate the fact that Brian Helgeland did some historical homework, mostly about King John, even if the events are are a bit off.  Danny Huston's King Richard is simply appalling, no other word for it.  I did like the new take on the Sheriff of Nottingham, as well as Mark Addy's take on Friar Tuck, so well done there.  Max von Sydow,  Cate Blanchett and William Hurt all make strong showings as well.  The characters of Little John, Will Scarlett and Allen A'Dayle feel tacked on and underdeveloped, but the actors portraying them don't let on that they know it.

I think the film is actually strongest once Robin gets to Nottingham, and has to fill the shoes he's stepped into.  I also appreciate the show-don't-tell approach to Robin's archery abilities.  No one quips about an amazing shot he just made, they just show him hitting everything he aims at, and give him a line to the boys in the forest about knowing which wood to make their bows out of.

I didn't know this going in, but this take on Robin Hood is actually an origin story.  He doesn't become Robin of the Hood until the very end.  On the show when we're talking about superhero movies, we always say that becoming is more interesting than being, and I applaud the effort to do that here.  The trouble is it doesn't quite works somehow; whole film feels like a setup for a sequel which will probably never get made, so you just have to fill it in with whichever flavor of the Robin Hood story you fancy.

It's really too bad, because once I got into it, there are parts here that I really like, but don't quite work.  The trouble is they could work with just a bit more effort.  Take the children in the forest, or as I like to call them, The Lost Boys.  Obviously they grow to become Robin's Merry Men, but I kept waiting for them to do something.  Everything they setup leads you to believe that all those French troops running around are in for an ambush when they get to Sherwood forest (come to think of it I don't recall that Sherwood is even mentioned).  But no, no, The Lost Boys show up on ponies to take part in a beach assault against a French invasion fleet, let by Marion, who's only demonstration of combat prowess was that flaming arrow she shot at the very beginning.  So points off for that.

Overall it's entertaining enough.  There's humor, drama, and enough committed actors to make it worth making some popcorn and killing a few hours, but this is not a good film, so turn off your critic circuit before hitting the play button.

Re: Robin Hood (2010)

What's your favorite movie of this genre, Matt?

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Re: Robin Hood (2010)

beldar wrote:

What's your favorite movie of this genre, Matt?


I suppose it depends how you want to categorize it.  Looking into it, I realized that Robin Hood isn't so much historical fiction as it is legend, or fantasy.  As an entity, Robin Hood can't be verified to have actually existed, but stories about him are so abundant that many believe he must have.  In terms of another such character on whom a film is based, the only other ones that comes to mind revolve around the Arthurian legend, in which case I'd look to Monty Python, so let's look at it from another angle.

As a pure historical drama, i.e. the events surrounding the story did happen, even if the story itself is not entirely historically accurate, a couple films come to mind.  Saving Private Ryan and Shindler's List, for showing us the sheer brutality of human nature as it actually happened. 

WWII though was fairly well documented, so we have quite a bit to go off of for a story in that setting.  Titanic shows us what is likely the most accurate depiction, in all it's horrific detail, of an event for which all we have to go on are survivor testimonial and forensic examination of the wreckage. 

Still, the story of the Titanic is also pretty widely known, so what about something smaller, almost a legend in itself.  Tsavo, Kenya is not a place you might have heard of before 1996, unless you were an African history or geography buff.  If that name does sound familiar, so might the tagline "Only the most incredible parts are true."  The Ghost and The Darkness is one of those films I wish we got more of, a true (if dramatized) story about an incredible event largely unknown to the world at large. 

In that same vein, though skewing much farther (almost completely) into fantasy, is Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), which tells the story of a series of brutal killings that took place between 1764 and 1767 in an area of south-central France.  Attributed to a "beast," wolves are the most likely culprit, thus the title of the film, but the filmmakers portray the Beast of Gévaudan...a bit differently.  I won't spoil it, as this is the most likely film for folks to have not seen, but The Jim Henson Creature Shop was involved.  (Fun fact: I saw this while I was stationed in Germany, and it was my first foreign language film; French with English subtitles.)

These later types of historical fiction are my favorite, as they portray events I never would have know about otherwise.  You'd be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard of D-Day, or the Titanic although Oskar Schindler may still trip someone up.  The thing about historical fiction, is that the better is generally know about the era, the less you can make up and get away with without someone like me throwing the Bullshit card.  I'll grant that it's tricky; the filmmakers must decide which facts are important for their story, and change or make up the rest.  The fact that King Richard was not what we would understand today as an "Englishman" isn't important to the story Ridley Scott wanted to tell.  More to the point such a portrayal will likely never come to pass, as it would cause an audience largely unschooled in British history to wonder why the King of England is, apparently, French.  Then again, maybe "wonder" is exactly what audiences at large need to do more often.