Robin Hood: A Prequel in Desperate Need of Its Sequel

14 05 2010

After the Writer’s Strike, a director switch, countless script re-writes and casting swaps, Ridley Scott’s and Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood finally makes it to theatres today. Here’s the breakdown:

Returning from the Crusades, archer Robin Longstride finds himself back in England, helping a widowed Maid Marion and her ailing father-in-law maintain peace in Nottingham. But a budding civil war and an invading French army lead to a climax that shapes Robin’s future and paves the way for the Robin Hood of lore.

The Monkey: The film had some really breathtaking moments. Sweeping shots over galloping horsemen, rolling green countryside, well choreographed action scenes (which could have come off rote and derivative) and spot-on set design helped set the stage for a truly epic movie-going experience.

In addition to the stunning visuals, the soundtrack was one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. Relatively unknown composer Marc Streitenfeld proved himself, weaving distinct and recognizable themes with a beautiful Celtic lilt, paced perfectly with the action and emotion onscreen.

As expected from the star-studded cast, the acting was superb. Russell Crowe, while not stretching very far, was a convincing archer-turned-outlaw and Cate Blanchett nearly stole the show as the strong-willed Maid Marion. Aside from the two leads, the supporting cast was top-notch, offering solid performances; from William Hurt (William Marshal) to Mark Strong (Godfrey), Max von Sydow (Sir Walter Loxley) to Danny Huston (King Richard the Lionheart). Even lesser known faces contributed to the acting caliber, especially Kevin Durand (Little John), Scott Grimes (Will Scarlet) and Mark Addy (Friar Tuck), the founding members of Robin’s future Merry Men.

Surprisingly, one of the film’s strongest points was the use of humor. As a whole, Robin Hood was rather dark, but the humor was well placed, genuine and frequent, breaking the doom-and-gloom monotony. While some will undoubtedly compare this film with the other Crowe/Scott collaboration, Gladiator, the use of humor (and lack of bloody violence) is a marked, and welcomed, difference.

The Weasel: The film was slightly mis-marketed. Audiences expecting a retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale will be disappointed. Instead, Scott has served up a prequel, for all intents and purposes. It’s not until the end of the film that I felt the inklings of the traditional Robin Hood story emerge. In fact, it is set-up wonderfully for a sequel that will explore just that. And unless a sequel is planned, the inclusion of Matthew Macfadyen’s Sheriff of Nottingham seemed utterly pointless, to the point of confusion. The real film’s villain was Mark Strong’s Godfrey, and the Sheriff hardly seemed like a match for Robin – his brief scenes in the movie have him spilling mead all over himself and begging the French invaders not to burn his house down. I’m hoping his character is fleshed out in a future installment, growing into one of the most notorious villains in literature and cinema.

The script’s many re-writes can be felt in the film. There are several distinct plot threads that don’t quite successfully come together: England’s impending civil war, France’s invasion, Robin’s life in Nottingham and Prince John’s succession to the thrown – oh yeah and throw in a random band of feral children in Sherwood Forest (?). While I think all these threads had potential, they were not fleshed out sufficiently. I actually think the existing script would have been better suited for a television mini-series, allowing each of these plot threads the screen time they needed.

The pacing was slow throughout, but did feel as if it were building; however, it built to the very end and stopped, when it was this very ending that had me most intrigued, when I felt the film could have really taken off. While this bodes well for a sequel, it does little to leave the audience with a sense of satisfaction.

A beautiful film, bolstered by an exceptional cast, but ultimately suffering from awkward plotting and a sense of needing something more at the end. I hope there is a sequel, because it needs it.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Robin Hood more prequel than reboot? Would you like to see a sequel with the Merry Men and the Sheriff of Nottingham further developed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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11 responses

15 05 2010
Ernie

My thoughts exactly!

13 06 2010
Ginny

Yes yes yes I would like to see a sequel to Robin Hood. All I could think about at the end of the movie was that I wanted to see nmore and I did not want it to end. So, that being said I would love to see a sequel

16 10 2010
Patience

Best movie I’ve seen in a long time… totally agree… I wanted to see more two hours was too short

22 09 2010
Jay

I definitely think this was a prequel, and frankly I liked that. It was a great movie, but people keep expecting the classic Robin Hood story, but that just simply isn’t what it is. You can feel the Robin Hood character being built and shaped into the man you know he will become so a sequel would not only work perfectly, but it would be right at the point of the Robin Hood legacy that people know and love. It was a great movie that hopefully will be followed up with another.

22 09 2010
Dustin

Thanks for the comment! And yes, I totally agree – a sequel would be great!

31 10 2010
Prince Vallaint

The movie was purposely set up as a sequel!

First… We are so wonderfully lead to believe that The Lion Heart was “killed”… as so in several renditions we have seen over the years… it became real to us, just as it became real to the participants of the story! What a great tactic in story telling. It is like reading a book… we all know that the Lion Heart returns at a later time to reclaim the throne from his corrupt brother!! Hello?? The guy who shot him yelled, “I killed the King!!” But the crossbow weapon only went through the side of his neck… hmmmmmmmmm.

Second… to back up a bit… a positive closure needs to come between the King and Robin (and his men) concerning the very interesting set of circumstances that placed them into locked up cells! Robin was a patriot at heart… and his “honesty” was dealt with in a manner keeping with a king’s necessity to protect his reverence. The King was searching for honesty… and he found it. However, if such honesty where allowed to fester among the devoted, then the mere thoughts of mutiny would surely be seeded. The naïve-ness he purports upon Longstirde’s revelation is in direct proportion to this… The King HAD to know of the incident’s linked to Robin’s Father… think on it… Loxley was befriended to the king! I think the King knew who Robin was, and played his cards accordingly. Now, this may not be the case, but it just doesn’t sit right with me that there would be a “feud” between these two greatly connected characters from all the lore that surrounds, at least, Robin’s loyalty to the Crown. The fact that he proclaims that he no longer would be loyal any man or a king is superbly readjusted later on in the story at his own revelation of who he really is… The son of his father!

Of course, when addressing John with his crown in the mud (WHICH I KNEW IN MY GUT SOMETHING WAS A MISS WITH HIS SUDDEN CHANGE OF HEART – THAT WAS SUPERB AS WELL!! IT LEFT US THINKING, HEY, REDEMPTION! BUT… IT DOESN’T FIT WITH THE LORE!!! I KNEW HE WAS GOING TO BURN THAT PROCLAIMATION AT THE END… WHICH KICKED INTO HIGH GEAR FOR ME THAT A SEQUEL IS ON ITS WAY!!!!)

Sorry… got carried away there…!! Back to the original point to be made: When Robin addressed John with His crown in the mud… he DID maintain his convictions that no man should be loyal to a CORRUPT crown… herein is the key. Lion Heart was not corrupt… he was merely misguided in his zeal in the crusades, which was the point Robin sought to be honest about. Richard will honor Longstride after his return to reclaim His throne… I can taste it!!

Third: Not only is the sheriff’s role going to blow wide open, but I suspect that Godfry’s character will return as well (maybe… not sure…). We don’t actually see him die. In fact, his last words while running away where not words at all… but a curious laugh. Now, what was that all about?? Lots of conjecture here… but the fact the arrow once again did not hit a vital part of his anatomy (JUST LIKE THE KING’S SITUATION… HELLO??), tells me something is still up with this character! I don’t think we have seen the end of him…

Finally: Robin and his merry men never had the chance to steal from the rich and give back to the poor… UNDER THE RULE OF THE SHERRIFF. That is because that time has not yet come! Please recall thus, any such Robin Hood antics that DID occur in the film did NOT happen under his duress as a proclaimed outlaw… It is only at the END of the story that he is declared an outlaw… with dire consequences to any who harbor him.

Sooooooo… what we obviously have is a major prequel to the story that everyone was eagerly waiting to see in this film, but were so surprised NOT to see!!!

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck… ladies and gentlemen, let the duck be surnamed… Sequel!

Not to be morbid, but the question is, will the main director continue to live long enough to make it happen? Russell Crowe is also a director in this, so, maybe a non-issue.

1 11 2010
Dustin

Thanks for the comment! You should start a movie commentary blog of your own! 🙂 I too hope to see a sequel…I guess only time will tell!

19 09 2011
Monica

Yes, I very much want to see a sequel to this stunningly, beautiful movie with the same actors and movie makers. It cries out for it.

19 09 2011
Dustin

I haven’t heard much buzz around a sequel since the release, but let’s hope! 🙂

27 01 2012
Zach

I don’t understand why everyone is so hard on this movie. Of course it doesn’t follow the traditional telling of Robin being an outlaw and robbing from the rich to give to the poor. As has been pointed out this telling occurs before the proclamation of King John calling Robin an outlaw and traitor to the crown. In my opinion, this was the best version of the classic story of Robin Hood, though I do agree it was too short and could have been a mini-series like Band of Brothers. Any sequel from this point would merely be another retelling of the story we have all come to know and love. However, if a sequel were to be made, I would be first in line at the theater. I have been a fan of the Robin Hood tale since I watched the Disney cartoon as a child.

28 02 2012
Dustin

Oooo, I like the idea of a mini-series! It’s been a while, so a sequel looks doubtful, but TV has lots of possibilities! Thanks for the comment, Zach!

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