Arts movie review

Another disappointing remake

When Batman meets Guy Fawkes

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Robin Hood (Taron Edgerton) stands before his future Merry Men.

Robin Hood
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Screenplay by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan
Rated PG-13, Now Playing

In Otto Bathurst’s take on a classic tale, we get a Robin Hood (Taron Egerton) who wears military fatigues when he’s a soldier in the Crusades, fighting against Muslims with machine guns disguised as gigantic crossbows. When things take a turn and Robin is forced to go back to England, he finds that his lordly estates have been confiscated by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn). The poor are being taxed to all hell in order to fund the war efforts. To make matters worse, his former lover, Marian (Eve Hewson), is shacking up with upstart, poor-man representative Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan).

Let’s start with the things I enjoyed first: Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx, the modern-medieval hybrid aesthetic that kinda looked cool, and the impressive (though technically questionable) archery stunts. Yeah, I think that was pretty much it.

In terms of the overall story, it’s a pretty standard one. It’s what most people expect from a simple movie based on Robin Hood, and that may be the cause of why Robin Hood falls short and hard. It’s easy to amass the ingredients for a good movie, but it takes more than just following the recipe to make a great one. This rendition tries to create a lot of hype with its hybrid aesthetic, fast-paced training montage, and highlighting of notable talents, from Taron Egerton, who dazzled in Kingsman, to Ben Mendelsohn, recently notable for his role in Rogue One; but the one-dimensional feel of the plot and the flatness of the characters don’t contribute at all to improve the film.

Taking a closer look at the characters, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint who the good guys and bad guys were from the start, but that provided no point of interest for the audience. Once back in Nottingham, Rob must win the favor of the Sheriff by posing as the noble Robin of Loxley by day while he works at night as “The Hood” to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He’s basically Batman with the archery skills of Legolas and the mindset of the classic Robin Hood, but unlike Batman, we never really understand why Rob does what he does. He just… does it. Little John (Jamie Foxx) is a Muslim seeking vengeance for the death of his son. In training Rob to become The Hood, John is able to impede the Christian war effort by cutting off its gold supply, which works, I guess?

Then there’s Marian, the only notable female character in the entire movie, but even then she feels insignificant. Sure, she tries her hand at being rebellious with Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin), but even that doesn’t go anywhere without the ultimate help of Rob. Marian is a disgrace to female characters everywhere. Her assigned role the entire time is basically to create romantic tension because Rob still loves her, for some reason, and she might still love him too, despite the fact that she’s with Will Scarlet. And what’s up with the Sheriff of Nottingham? What are we supposed to take away from his character? Child abuse is bad because victims of child abuse grow up to become sadistic, growly adults who constantly wish for the murder of their insufferable coworkers?

Finally, there’s also the problem of historical inaccuracies. I would get if they’re trying to take some creative liberties with the historical setting because Robin Hood is a tale that’s been done over so many times, but I wish they could make up their mind about it. The movie begins with a scene that looks like it should be set in contemporary times. Imagine any war movie that takes place in Afghanistan and replace the guns with bows and arrows and that’s what you get. Once Rob gets sent back to England, it’s almost like he’s time-traveled backwards several hundred years, but surprise! People somehow have gasoline to use and their fashion ranges from sci-fi inspired to current Fashion Week trends. At some point, people are even gambling on roulette tables since there is apparently no equivalent time-appropriate form of entertainment. The portrayal of literally anything in the movie gets confused with its intended purpose, and the choices made by the production crew ultimately feel meaningless. Perhaps the Crusades conflict is supposed to show multiplicity in our modern-day international wars, but if that’s what it’s supposed to be, it’s not very clear.

While small portions of the movie could be enjoyable, the overall film is a mess. It’s a wonder how Robin Hood was able to make it to the light of day, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone wasting their time on this movie. If you want to see Taron Egerton be a badass like I was hoping for, just go and watch the Kingsman movies again.