Call it ‘Robin Hood Begins’

Posted by · 2:45 pm · May 9th, 2010

Anne tips us off to the first wave of “Robin Hood” reviews, which were meant to be held until Wednesday, given the Cannes screening and all.  Alas, no one seems to follow embargoes anymore, so the trades, as usual, spilled right after Empire did the same across the pond.

For my part, I’ve been trying to write a review of the film ever since I saw it last week.  But I never seem to get past a graph or so when I come back to it, because — truth be told — the film just never seems to get out of the gate and is quite forgettable.

It’s a prequel to the legend we all know, which is novel and interesting in and of itself, and certainly an attractive enough premise.  After all, the legend is just that, a legend, fit with all the convolution and, in some interpretations, anachronisms that come with the territory.  What better way to strip down and streamline the iconic figure than via a prequel as epic as this, one that plants the seeds for the classic strokes to come?

Well, the basics of filmmaking still apply, I’m afraid.   Ridley Scott’s film is, unfortunately, a structural mess with a convoluted narrative, dubious romance, awkward stabs at comic relief and hackneyed tropes of the genre.  Perhaps most unforgivable in a film aiming to be an entertainment: it bores to tears.

The director proves again that his approach to filming action is disorienting, and not in the purposeful way that might be acceptable.  More and more he seems to be taking cues from brother Tony in that light.  Chemistry between Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett is almost non-existent and the relationship that buds is tough to accept.  The film just sits there, sluggish, fatigued, much like the genre Scott is trying to dress up accordingly one…more…time.

And that’s really all I can think to say about it.  Maybe I should be thankful to the gun-jumpers after all.  The pressure of a full review is off.

Anyway, with “Iron Man 2” and “Robin Hood” laying creative eggs early on, it’s up to “MacGruber” and a fourth “Shrek” film to save the start of the summer movie season.  God help us…

→ 45 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

45 responses so far

  • 1 5-09-2010 at 3:12 pm

    cineJAB said...

    i feel like the only people who think Iron Man 2 wasn’t that great are the critics. I thought it was better than the first in some ways. Also, I could have told you Scott & Crowe doing Robin Hood would have been a total snooze, they’re the only pairing in Hollywood that’s more tired than Burton & Depp.

  • 2 5-09-2010 at 3:18 pm

    DRM said...


    Good thing we have Inception to look forward to. This summer is just “blah” other than that movie. Let’s hope it delivers. It has the potential to be phenomenal. Certainly it looks like the visuals are phenomenal. Hopefully the story is too!

  • 3 5-09-2010 at 3:18 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    lol. Don’t put that pressure on MacGruber.

    Let’s be real. The entire summer is going to suck with the only potential saviors being Inception and Toy Story 3.

  • 4 5-09-2010 at 3:25 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    @cineJAB: Actually, a number of top critics are quite sympathetic to Iron Man 2. Once again, Metacritic/RT scores don’t tell the full story.

  • 5 5-09-2010 at 3:31 pm

    Chris said...

    @Matthew Starr:
    Don’t forget about “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”.

  • 6 5-09-2010 at 3:35 pm

    James D. said...

    It really is all dull until Machete comes out and changes everything, in my opinion.

  • 7 5-09-2010 at 3:35 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    matt star is right, besides toy story 3 and hopefully inception its going to be a tough summer indeed

  • 8 5-09-2010 at 4:21 pm

    Chase K. said...

    “Robin Hood” is treacherously bad. The only thing more misguided than the Crowe-Blanchett romance is (as Kris said) the stale, milquetoast humor.

    And the whole French invasion plot (lead by that guy from the opening scene of “Inglourious Basterds”) is a snooze. Plus Mark Strong’s mouth scar distractingly evokes Captain Vidal and The Joker all at once.

    Everything about it is just so second-hand, as if made by a Gore Verbinski or a Mike Newell. They should have just called it “Chronicles of Nottingham”.

  • 9 5-09-2010 at 4:36 pm

    Kevin said...

    Call me a Ridley Scott apologist, but I really dig his films (Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, and the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven are all in my top 20 favorite films of all time, and I was thoroughly entertained by Black Hawk Down, Body of Lies, and American Gangster), and I actually enjoyed Robin Hood quite a bit. Guess I’m alone on this one. Oh well, to each their own, but as long as I enjoy the movies I do, that’s all that matters.

  • 10 5-09-2010 at 4:53 pm

    Michael said...

    I’m glad I wasn’t looking forward to this movie anyway.

  • 11 5-09-2010 at 5:02 pm

    aaron said...

    whoa, a ridley scott film that’s a total snoozefest? i find this impossible to believe. the guy made three great films (alien, blade runner, and legend) but everything since has been total crap. i gave up after american gangster. on paper it sounded awesome but it was just a forgettable waste of a very-well assembled cast. i mean, how the fuck can you fuck up denzel, crowe, and brolin? and now he’s going to drive the final nail in the alien coffin. stupid hobbit.

  • 12 5-09-2010 at 5:04 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Funny how nostalgic I am for summer movies from twenty years ago –

    Robocop 2
    Total Recall
    Die Hard 2: Die Harder
    Gremlins 2: The New Batch
    Dick Tracy
    Back to the Future Pt 3

  • 13 5-09-2010 at 5:33 pm

    tony rock said...

    Five greats for Scott IMO: Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and the Kingdom of Heaven director’s cut. And three good but not great films: Thelma and Louise, Matchstick Men, and American Gangster. The rest have been underwhelming to say the least. Here’s hoping he can start being consistent again.

  • 14 5-09-2010 at 5:39 pm

    JJ said...

    Well, I’m holding out hope for ‘Robin Hood’. As mentioned, English critics love it. HR and Variety are mixed. I’ve not been disappointed by Ridley, yet.

  • 15 5-09-2010 at 5:59 pm

    moviefan said...

    I won’t get to see Robin Hood until Friday but I’m really looking forward to it. The combo of Scott and Crowe is very appealing to me, as is the idea of a different take on the legend than the old ‘rob from the rich, give to the poor’ Robin Hood. It looks visually stunning as well and I’m happy to see Streitenfeld’s score being called ‘brilliant’.

    I wonder if the Robin/Marian love story (which Empire, Variety and HR all seemed to like) will be divided by age; the younger folk won’t like it but the older demographic will appreciate it. I’m not sure how Kris sees no chemistry at all between Crowe and Blanchett whereas I can see it in spades just in the trailers.

    As Variety’s Chang mentioned, and as perhaps the UK reviews suggest, I’m curious if Robin Hood will go over better overseas. It seems the younger folks in NoAmer are more attuned to Iron Men and Transformers so might like more of a comic book/superhero take on the old legend rather than a grown up movie. I was pleased to see the below Empire comment, but this same thing may well turn off the younger moviegoers of NoAmer.

    “When was the last time you saw a big, action-packed movie that felt like it belonged in its summer-release slot yet didn’t treat you like a 13 year-old boy? That had a coherent story, a zinging script, a confident edit, restrained use of visual effects and didn’t stink like an extended advert for its own merchandise?”

  • 16 5-09-2010 at 6:00 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “Thelma and Louise” IS great.

  • 17 5-09-2010 at 6:30 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    I’m not expecting Scott Pilgrim to deliver. My gut tells me it’s going to be Edgar Wright’s first misstep.

    I guess I am also slightly looking forward to The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone and The Tillman Story.

  • 18 5-09-2010 at 6:40 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    In his first review at indieWIRE, Todd McCarthy knocks the film:

  • 19 5-09-2010 at 8:19 pm

    Al said...

    I wouldn’t necessarily consider Iron Man 2 bad, just not really memorable. Robin Hood always struck me as a bore, go figure….its Mr. Scott.

  • 20 5-09-2010 at 8:43 pm

    DRM said...


    Do you know if McCarthy is still going to be considered a Top Critic at Rotten Tomatoes/MetaCritic now that he’s not part of Variety? You would think the guy would still retain his credibility. Heck, I consider it laughable that whoever is writing for Variety in his place is automatically considered a top critic just because Variety is employing them.

  • 21 5-09-2010 at 10:34 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Not sure. Anne talked at length about the indieWIRE critics situation in Friday’s Oscar Talk, though, maybe there’s something there.

  • 22 5-09-2010 at 11:03 pm

    John said...

    Kris, seriously, stop plugging Oscar Talk. It’s annoying.

    I’m joking.

  • 23 5-10-2010 at 12:18 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “As mentioned, English critics love it.”

    No, Empire loves it. One populist-leaning magazine is hardly representative of British critics, most of whom will weigh in when the film opens.

  • 24 5-10-2010 at 4:48 am

    ninja said...

    Empire gave it only a 4 star. When this magazine gives 4 star instead of 5 to their favorite directors, you know it`s a turkey. That is their way of saying they didn`t like it.

    Reviewers who are not saying that leads are miscast and have zero chemistry are lying through their teeth. Kris review is on the money. This movie is wrong on so many levels but not bad enough to be considered good. It`s forgettable, like totally. Will come and go. and nobody will care. Oh, and it has build-in franchise ending too. Let the geriatric jokes in.

  • 25 5-10-2010 at 5:57 am

    Glenn said...

    Tony Rock, Ridley has been consistent, just not in the good way.

    “Robin Hood” is awful. I fell asleep towards the start I was already bored, cringe-inducing humour, mumbly vocals from Crowe, not an ounce of fun in the entire movie, action that’s hard (sometimes impossible) to follow, ridiculous third act (i was laughing by that stage) and a colour palate that’s so gray and gloomy. Ugh.

  • 26 5-10-2010 at 7:55 am

    JJ said...

    Kris, and others, what would you give Iron Man 2 and Robin Hood out of 4 stars?

    And, at this point, what would their realistic Oscar prospects be down the road?

  • 27 5-10-2010 at 9:14 am

    moviefan said...

    I actually read a review this morning that mentioned too much plot and copious chatter in RH. I know that much of the younger generation wants more CGI’d explosions, slutty young girls and superheroes, but there is a whole other group of people who like grown up movies, with plot, dialogue, actual human emotion, and can even appreciate a story of love between folks over 40. Unfortunately, in the US, that group doesn’t go to the theaters much anymore.

    I’m hoping Robin Hood does well because Hollywood movies now equal too much over-loud, over-CGI’d trash, IMO and it’s just getting worse every year.

    I recently read a writer’s blog who said he asked a studio suit if they were looking at any original scripts. The suit said that yes they are, as long as it’s comic book or superhero based. Sad.

  • 28 5-10-2010 at 10:48 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    JJ: Two for RH, probably 1 1/2 for Iron Man. Bleak.

  • 29 5-10-2010 at 11:34 am

    Kevin K. said...

    4 reviews up on RT, all of them fresh.

  • 30 5-10-2010 at 1:23 pm

    JJ said...

    OK, thanks Kris.

  • 31 5-10-2010 at 2:16 pm

    moviefan said...

    Metacritic rates Chang’s Variety review as a 70, both Empire’s and Honeycutt’s are 80s. Also 80 is a very positive review from Pete Hammond.

  • 32 5-10-2010 at 4:49 pm

    ninja said...

    This is not going to feature at the Oscars in any shape or form. It`ll be forgotten by the time Drek 4 comes out which is a week after release. It`s the most generic movie you`ll see this year. Nothing and nobody stands out in this.

  • 33 5-10-2010 at 6:37 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Ah ninja, I missed the resident troll.

  • 34 5-10-2010 at 6:38 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Also, looks like the film has more critical support than we initially thought.

  • 35 5-10-2010 at 7:25 pm

    Hans said...

    Oh please no. I promise myself to go see any movie that I initially write off but that suddenly gets critical backing. I totally was not on board with Star Trek until the night before release I checked RT to see that it had a whopping 95%. Went to a screening that evening and came away with one of my top 3 movies of 2009.

    This, on the other hand, I just do not want to sit through.

    Also worth noting that MacGruber is 7 for 7 fresh at this point as well.

  • 36 5-10-2010 at 7:40 pm

    Glenn said...

    Kevin, one of the positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is Pete Hammond. Discount him immediately. The two from “Urban Cinefile” aren’t that better tbh. Nevertheless, any movie can have a high score there with so few reviews. Who cares if it does end up being well-reviewed, Kris didn’t like it. What’s the issue?

    I must say, I have heard nothing but negative reactions from people at the screening I was at.

  • 37 5-10-2010 at 7:48 pm

    Maxim said...

    “More and more he seems to be taking cues from brother Tony in that light. ”

    Really sad to hear this as it is something I have noticed too.

    Really like Ridley but can’t stand Tony.

  • 38 5-10-2010 at 8:04 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    You guys all take Rotten Tomatoes that seriously? Not trying to be snarky, I’m really asking.

  • 39 5-10-2010 at 9:09 pm

    Hans said...

    Well, I’ll admit I’ve probably give it a little more weight than I should. I didn’t get into the whole Oscar/Awards game until 2008, and when I first started off, all I knew was that my two favorite movies, TDK and WALL-E, were sporting mid-90’s RT scores, and that that was supposed to be amazing. I didn’t know anything about precursor awards or “buzz” or anything like that, and I didn’t live near an arthouse, so the only tangible thing I had to compare movies on was the good ol’ tomatometer. If a “baity” movie came out and it bombed spectacularly on RT, I would count that as a stepping stone towards one of my two favorite movies making the BP lineup.

    Methinks I’ve made some good strides in the past year and a half or so of moviewatching, and I’ve found ways now of gauging a movie’s quality (which include, you know, watching it), but from time to time I still use RT as kind of a first stepping stone in how to look at a movie I’m not quite sure of (like Robin Hood Begins).

    And I can’t count the number of times I disagree with RT. I recently watched “Equilibrium” for the first time, a superb and intelligent film, I thought, that completely bombed when it first came out.

  • 40 5-11-2010 at 5:27 am

    ninja said...

    Positive reviews are only generally positive, not raves. Not even close to raves. Plus, there`s more negative reaction by people who saw it and who aren`t critics than positive reviews. When it was screened for the first time, there was explosion of negative reactions that summed it up as “boring” “zero chemistry” “not Robin Hood story” and “stupid last act”. Oh, and if you look forward to Mark Strong who is everywhere these days, good luck. He`s totally underused and bland in this as some made-up villain. Facts of life, not trolling.

    Yeah, I get that people root for Scott, Crowe, Blachett,Strong to get back into Oscar game but it`s not happening with this turkey. Done and done.

  • 41 5-11-2010 at 5:50 am

    JJ said...

    Well, look at ‘Iron Man 2’:

    It has 75% on RT (about 165 positive reviews).

    I’d say 120 or so of those are barely 2.5/3 star out of 4 star critiques. Nothing great.

    If this were any other lesser-though-of franchise with RD Jr. not in it, this would have a 40% rating on RT. I really think that would be true. Any other superhero film that has the issues ‘Iron Man 2’ has would be getting creamed.

    Having said all of that, I happened to like the movie as entertainment, not as artistic cinema.

  • 42 5-11-2010 at 1:57 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Can’t any idiot with a blog get on Rotten Tomatoes as well? There are barely any professional critics worth listening to as it is

  • 43 5-11-2010 at 4:19 pm

    moviefan said...

    I wasn’t going to say idiot, Chad, lol, but it does seem that any Tom, Dick or Harry Blogger can get a review on RT nowadays. The Top Critic tab shows us a similar list of critics to the ones at Metacritic so I do check in there. I read a lot of reviews because I read several movie sites/blogs, but in the end, I see what I want to see regardless of what is written. Like everyone else, I know what I like and I don’t need a veteran critic or a newbie blogger to convince me one way or another.

    That said, Guy (post #23) might want to take another look at the UK critics, I’ve seen some 4 star reviews (Guardian, Daily Mail) as well as some others that aren’t rated per se but that are positive to very positive (Telegraph, Mirror, Times Online). I also read in The Australian that respected critic David Stratton gives RH 4.5 stars but I haven’t been able to find his review yet.

  • 44 5-11-2010 at 4:27 pm

    JJ said...

    Yeah, most British and Australian critics are eating it up early on.

  • 45 5-11-2010 at 5:13 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Ridley Scott has always been more popular overseas from what I recall. Probably because he makes films that treat audiences like adults and doesn’t distract them from shitty acting and weak plot with overblown CGI and Michael Bay explosions.