Robin Hood, directed by Otto Bathurst, had the potential to add an interesting new spin on a story and character that has been well and truly done at this point. Unfortunately, despite some minor, and somewhat interesting choices, Robin Hood is a bland, forgettable film in which my opinion of it could best be communicated with a shrug of the shoulders. This won’t be the most riveting of reviews I’ve had the opportunity to write recently, but it will do you the favour of letting you know if you should make the effort to go see this film. So, without further ado, let’s get on with the review.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Robin Hood tells a story we’re all pretty familiar with at this point. Robin of Loxley – played by Taron Edgerton – returns from the crusades (where he was a soldier) to find the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham – played by Ben Mendelsohn – and the church are bleeding the people of the city of all their wealth and possessions. Along with the help of Little John – played by Jamie Foxx – the two set out to end the corruption as both masked vigilantes and also from within the corrupt system itself.
I want to be honest and upfront straight away: Walking into Robin Hood, I had the lowest of expectations imaginable. I had such little faith and such little interest in this film that I turned it into an occasion where I could indulge in a couple of beers with friends and just enjoy a bad film while being a little buzzed.
Robin Hood didn’t actually end up being as bad as I was expecting it to be, but it is still in no way a good film. It’s one of those forgettable blockbuster experiences that is fine enough while watching it, but you’ll never commit any significant thought to it again – unless you’re like me and writing a review for it.
What’s frustrating about Robin Hood is it seems somewhere deep down in the DNA of the film, there were some possibly interesting ideas for it to play with, but it sadly, and subsequently annoyingly, does nothing with those ideas and instead offers something we’ve all seen many, many times before… and of far better quality.
Let’s take the character of Robin himself who is as bland and by the numbers as you’d expect. There was a real opportunity to do something different and more challenging with the character. They could have had his time in the war severely affect him – a vigilante who is affected by PTSD and struggles to be the hero people think he is, is something that could have made for a far more compelling story. The strife between him and Marian – played by Eve Hewson – could have made for a troubled relationship where them getting back together felt earned, and their journey to that point made them even stronger. Robin’s struggle with playing both a wealthy philanthropist by day and vigilante by night could have offered an interesting new angle for the hero who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. For a story that is so well-known, it’s surprising how many possibly interesting ideas you can come up with when you just put a little thought into it.
From just that one element of the film I was able to come up with multiple interesting angles for it to take advantage of, and if it had gone forward with any of those potentially interesting ideas, it could have easily offered something genuinely compelling (I think), and if it had gone onto tackled any of them it would have made it infinitely more memorable (I hope). But as I’ve already mentioned: Robin Hood is a film that does nothing new or interesting with the characters or story at it has at its disposal, which is a damn shame.
So what you then have is characters like Maid Marian who exists in the film, but nothing is ultimately done with the character to make her feel like anything more than set-dressing (something that is the case for a lot of Robin’s band of merry men). Marian herself is introduced as a thief and I thought the film might flip the roles during the film and have her become the renowned robber of the rich by the end, but it doesn’t. She just falls into playing the role we all know.
There was even a point where I thought the film was going to do something really interesting with The Sheriff of Nottingham; at one point in the film he randomly starts telling a story about is abusive childhood – the scene itself is awkwardly handled but what it offered story wise had me intrigued. Well, much like everything else in Robin Hood it was a story purely used for that moment. It served no other purpose after that (other than a single line of dialogue hurled by Robin at the Sheriff in the final conflict between the two) and was once again a missed opportunity.
What all these missed opportunities and failures in storytelling add up to is an extremely frustrating and boring watch. I sat there – giving the film the benefit of the doubt time after time – hoping it would capitalise on the interesting idea it had grazed, only to be left disappointed. Why try to do a more edgy, modernised version of Robin Hood if you’re only going to do the same thing we’ve all seen and experienced many times over. It hasn’t worked with any recent iteration of the character – Ridley Scott’s version being a film I struggled to stay awake during – so why would you think it would work now?
I maybe think that the makers of the film thought the updated look to the film might be enough to make it seem different. While I did enjoy the aesthetic the film employed and thought it was refreshing to not be watching a Robin Hood film set in a muddy, medieval town, it still wasn’t enough to keep me engaged and invested in something in which I knew how every story beat and every character path would culminate. It doesn’t matter how many machine gun crossbows you have; the story needs to engage the audience, otherwise all you have is a flashy looking film with absolutely no substance.
That’s what Robin Hood is. So much time was spent making everything look appealing to the eyes – with the action scenes where ‘speed ramping’ is used with abandon and practical stunt work balances out the shoddy looking CGI – but if the story is one we all know; a story where even a novice of films can expertly predict where things will go next, then your audience is quickly going to switch off, thus all your visual splendour is for nothing. And that’s exactly what I did: I switched off.
What Robin Hood ended up being for me was an empty blockbuster experience where the decently done action sometimes woke my brain up and reminded me I was watching something that could sometimes be fun, but for the most part it was a meh experience that made no impact on me whatsoever. In fact, its impact was so ineffective that I interestingly find myself not landing on one side or the other in terms of my emotional response to the film. I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t hate it. It’s a film I saw, it’s a film I won’t think about again, and it’s an experience I have already moved on from (even while writing this review).
In an obvious conclusion, I DO NOT recommend, Robin Hood. A pointless film that you’ll barely think about while watching, let alone after it’s done. Do yourself a massive favour and only let this review (and others) be your sole interaction with one of 2018’s most forgettable movies.
If you did unfortunately see Robin Hood, what were your thoughts on it, and what did you think of my review? Let me know in the comments section down below. Feel free to follow my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – and help me to grow this hobby into something more. Lastly, I simply want to thank you for taking the time to come here and read my review. You’re one of my favourite people for doing so. Have a fantastic day, and thank you one more time.