SPOILER ALERT: This is not the film you’ll expect to see. It doesn’t even mention Sherwood Forest, robbing anyone and giving to anyone else, thwarting the Sheriff of Nottingham, firing the famous bow that much, or even running around with his bunch of ne’er-do-well cultural stereotypes, er, I mean, Merry Men.
How I can sum this movie up? Rather than focus on the film as a whole, I’ll just break it down into individual, ridiculous sections. It might not mean anything to those who haven’t seen the movie, but I think the stupidity I’m outlining will keep you from making my mistake and watching it at all. Here we go….
- Feral children riding Shetland ponies into battle against the French.
I skipped a lot to get to this point, but still, you’re not missing much. Early on in the proceedings, the extent to which England has gone down the toilet without the leadership of Richard the Lionheart, is explained by a random raid on a store house by small children wearing masks, a la Scarecrow from Batman Begins. This theme is largely ignored for the rest of the film, until the end, in the ‘final battle’, when they charge into battle against the floundering, moist French, who are struggling to gain a foothold on the beach they just invaded (I don’t remember this in my history class, but never mind). How they kept up with the rest of the army riding to resist this mysterious invasion force, is a mystery. How they learned swordplay, let alone kung-fu, in the forests of Sherwood, is also an enigma. Those French soldiers, trained and disciplined, don’t stand a chance against a collection of eighty-pound armorless boy-scouts, it seems.
- The French soldiers making the French sound.
The French in their evil dastardly ways manage to break into Friar Tucks mead supply (Tuck is an alcoholic… shock horror) and actually make the French uh-huh-huh-huh noise. I’ve never heard a French person sound like this, so imagine my surprise to discover that it was simply indicative of the parlance of the time. You learn something new every day.
- Maid Marion riding into battle in full armor.
Back to the final battle. She turns up on the beach as an anonymous knight in black armor, after everyone one else had gotten there, and then proceeds to get laid out at the hands of the evil Godfrey, the English turncoat, before needing to be rescued by Mr Hood. He then carries her off into the sunset (Well, sort of. You don’t get sunsets in England, more like a smudged stains in the sky). How does he do this? She must weight 150lbs at least, plus armor, at least another 120lbs, plus his armor, plus wading through the water. Archers must have been ripped in those days, not the malnourished conscripted peasants I thought they were.
Oh, and she gets a long sloppy, a little-bit-bloody kiss. I don’t know what Medieval dental standards were up to, but that can’t have been pleasant.
- Attacking an island.
Of all the hundreds of miles of English coastline, why on earth do the French land in the one part that is defensible, in front of an impassable cliff? Oh yes, of course, it’s so the English longbow can make one of only three appearances in the whole film, firing in volleys off the cliff into the hapless French ranks.
- Turning ships around in the English Channel.
SCENE – French King on prow of ultra-maneuverable Medieval warship, regarding the failed beach landing: “Sacre-bleu, we are losing! I am Français, and my stereotype dictates that I run at the first sign of trouble! We must flee, tout-de-suite! Turn around, maintenant!
Turn around? How the hell are you going to turn around? You’re in a ship that barely had a rudder! It’s a wooden brick with a sail! Your movement is dictated by the tides! How in gods name….?
- Landing vessels that look suspiciously like something from Saving Private Ryan.
Oh those French, always one step ahead.
- Democracy in the Middle Ages.
The film continually tries to introduce contemporary values and ideals throughout the movie, such as taking a lassaiz-faire attitude to religion, gender equality and best of all, individual rights and freedoms. As per the plot, Robin Hood’s dad was killed trying to preach democratic rights to an unsympathetic elite. Upon having a massive memory recall whilst drunk one night with his new pater-familias played by Max Von Sydow (oh, you have fallen so far Max), our hero finds his calling as Martin Luther Hood, and starts giving speeches about how every mans house is his castle (always wondered where that phrase came from) and how everyone can be individuals. The Evil King, under pressure, agrees to endow these rights, honest, right after everyone goes to fight a war for him. Just before the film ends (about 139 minutes after it should have done) the screenwriter must realizes the glaring historical inaccuracy, and so the King renounces these former policies promises (not at all like what happens today) and everything goes back to normal. Whew. For a second there I thought they were all going to vote.
- Summing up.
Other than displaying the directors penchant for having people fling weapons to Russell Crowe for him to use whilst on horseback, and the fact that for a simple archer, Robin Hood was an all-round weapons master, and that he could gives speeches that people would actually listen to, and that the color palette of the movie couldn’t make it’s mind up whether to be dystopian brown or blurry pastoral yellows, or how Robin couldn’t have known how to ride a horse (less fight proficiently off one), or that Maid Marion shows no previous aptitude at using a sword, or that people didn’t bathe for months at a time, or how there was plantation forests and modern dancing, or that the French didn’t invade England until 1216, were actually successful and put a king on the throne for a while…. other than all that…. it was still shit. Badly edited, scripted, cast and directed.
Ridley Scott was on some drugs when the screen-writer pitched this steamer to him. He must have been.
“Oh yes, Mr Scott… and then, then, Maid Marion rides into battle! And ooh, ooh, some wild children on ponies turn up! And then they win! Yay! It’s great! I know! Do I get paid yet?”
Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, remember that one, with Kevin Costner, in all its resplendent American-accented glory, where the only English-speaking person was the bad guy? Yes, well it was better. I said it.