Skip to main content

I’m the spoiled toff who lives in the manor.

Robin Hood
(2018)

(SPOILERS) Good grief. I took the disdain that greeted Otto Bathurst’s big screen debut with a pinch of salt, on the basis that Guy Ritchie’s similarly-inclined lads-in-duds retelling of King Arthur was also lambasted, and that one turned out to be pretty good fun for the most part. But a passing resemblance is as close as these two would-be franchises get (that, and both singularly failed to start their respective franchises). Robin Hood could, but it definitely didn’t.

Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton, crashing and burning horrifically) isn’t a not-so-humble peasant/grifter per the Ritchie movie, though. He is, at least in some passing acknowledgement of the legend, a nobleman. And one happy to flaunt his stuff, in particular towards Eve Hewson’s plucky (of courseshe is) Maid Marian. Until he gets a draft notice (WTF?), called up to serve in a War on Terror version of the Crusades, complete with missile launcher arrowpults that obliterate the Brits as if under heavy machine gunfire. Robin, being progressively principled and ethically alert, blanches at the execution of heathen prisoners and gets shipped back to Blighty after being shot by platoon leader Guy of Gisborne (Paul Anderson, doubtless picked by Bathurst due to their Peaky Blinders relationship).

But not before he managed to save Jamie Foxx’s Yahya (Little John), give or take a hand. As recompense, Foxx comes searching for Robin, to train him to be the best kind of rebel he can – in order to steal back the people’s funds being funnelled into funding the conflict – by way of an inane and tedious training montage. Cue Robin leading a double life, posing as the Sheriff of Nottingham’s pal while leading raids as masked avenger the Hood. Ben Mendelsohn does his best to give the proceedings some welly as the Sheriff, and comes as close as the picture ever does to sparking interest when he delights in pushing the captured John’s buttons, but the makers are so moribundly earnest in intent that they wouldn’t even think of allowing him to be someone we could root for (àla Alan Rickman).

Also showing up are F Murray Abraham, wasted as a dodgy Cardinal, Tim Minchin trying and conspicuously failing to be the next Eddie Izzard as Friar Tuck, and Jamie Dornan, unutterably bland as Will Scarlet. Egerton has been a bright talent through his work with Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman, Eddie the Eagle, Rocketman), but he falls squarely on his face here, unable to draw on a winning personality and stuck for finding a semblance of character. He’s left seething and grimacing and giving vacuous rallying speeches (“This is our crusade, and each and every one of us has to stand up or we go under”). The dispatching of the Sheriff (“You bastards, I’m the Sheriff of Nottingham”: “Not any more”) is about the only point of flippancy where the picture connects; otherwise, it’s entirely lacking the sense of brio and zest that Ritchie brought to King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Indeed, if Robin Hood was silly and outlandish or outrageous – as the ridiculous designer clothing might lead you to expect – that might at least have been be enough to justify its existence, but it’s simply dead in the water. As such, the movie that came to mind was the recent Tomb Raider boot, also with no shortage of money and talent thrown at it, but entirely without a pulse or reason to exist. Of course, Bathurst’s film crashed and burned at the box office, having started out as Robin Hood: Origins and undergone several rescheduled release dates. Will this put the kibosh on another retelling for a while? Well, Sir Ridders’ version came out in the relatively recent 2010, and it’s more likely a movie no one went to see will actually give impetus to a new version people might(the Crowe movie underperformed relative its excessive price tag, but it nevertheless did perform). The problem is, studios are so obsessed with finding ways to make the source material different (ie similar to other movies it has essentially nothing to do with), they will most likely keep missing the mark.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Popular posts from this blog

If I do nothing else, I will convince them that Herbert Stempel knows what won the goddam Academy Award for Best goddam Picture of 1955. That’s what I’m going to accomplish.

Quiz Show (1994) (SPOILERS) Quiz Show perfectly encapsulates a certain brand of Best Picture nominee: the staid, respectable, diligent historical episode, a morality tale in response to which the Academy can nod their heads approvingly and discerningly, feeding as it does their own vainglorious self-image about how times and attitudes have changed, in part thanks to their own virtuousness. Robert Redford’s film about the 1950s Twenty-One quiz show scandals is immaculately made, boasts a notable cast and is guided by a strong screenplay from Paul Attanasio (who, on television, had just created the seminal Homicide: Life on the Streets ), but it lacks that something extra that pushes it into truly memorable territory.

Your Mickey Mouse is one big stupid dope!

Enemy Mine (1985) (SPOILERS) The essential dynamic of Enemy Mine – sworn enemies overcome their differences to become firm friends – was a well-ploughed one when it was made, such that it led to TV Tropes assuming, since edited, that it took its title from an existing phrase (Barry Longyear, author of the 1979 novella, made it up, inspired by the 1961 David Niven film The Best of Enemies ). The Film Yearbook Volume 5 opined that that Wolfgang Petersen’s picture “ lacks the gritty sauciness of Hell in the Pacific”; John Boorman’s WWII film stranded Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune on a desert island and had them first duking it out before becoming reluctant bedfellows. Perhaps germanely, both movies were box office flops.

Piece by piece, the camel enters the couscous.

The Forgiven (2021) (SPOILERS) By this point, the differences between filmmaker John Michael McDonagh and his younger brother, filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh, are fairly clearly established. Both wear badges of irreverence and provocation in their writing, and a willingness to tackle – or take pot-shots – at bigger issues, ones that may find them dangling their toes in hot water. But Martin receives the lion’s share of the critical attention, while John is generally recognised as the slightly lesser light. Sure, some might mistake Seven Psychopaths for a John movie, and Calvary for a Martin one, but there’s a more flagrant sense of attention seeking in John’s work, and concomitantly less substance. The Forgiven is clearly aiming more in the expressly substantial vein of John’s earlier Calvary, but it ultimately bears the same kind of issues in delivery.

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989) (SPOILERS) There’s Jaws , there’s Star Wars , and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws ’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy , to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “ more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie ”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “ mainly boring ”. Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the

Say hello to the Scream Extractor.

Monsters, Inc. (2001) (SPOILERS) I was never the greatest fan of Monsters, Inc. , even before charges began to be levelled regarding its “true” subtext. I didn’t much care for the characters, and I particularly didn’t like the way Pixar’s directors injected their own parenting/ childhood nostalgia into their plots. Something that just seems to go on with their fare ad infinitum. Which means the Pixars I preferred tended to be the Brad Bird ones. You know, the alleged objectivist. Now, though, we learn Pixar has always been about the adrenochrome, so there’s no going back…

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

I’m just the balloon man.

Copshop (2021) (SPOILERS) A consistent problem with Joe Carnahan’s oeuvre is that, no matter how confidently his movies begin, or how strong his premise, or how adept his direction or compelling the performances he extracts, he ends up blowing it. He blows it with Copshop , a ’70s-inspired variant on Assault on Precinct 13 that is pretty damn good during the first hour, before devolving into his standard mode of sado-nihilistic mayhem.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

When we have been subtle, then can I kill him?

The Avengers 6.16. Legacy of Death There’s scarcely any crediting the Terry Nation of Noon-Doomsday as the same Terry Nation that wrote this, let alone the Terry Nation churning out a no-frills Dalek story a season for the latter stages of the Jon Pertwee era. Of course, Nation had started out as a comedy writer (for Hancock), and it may be that the kick Brian Clemens gave him up the pants in reaction to the quality of Noon-Doomsday loosened a whole load of gags. Admittedly, a lot of them are well worn, but they come so thick and fast in Legacy of Death , accompanied by an assuredly giddy pace from director Don Chaffey (of Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts ) and a fine ensemble of supporting players, that it would be churlish to complain.

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013) (SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight ; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.