Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Otto Bathurst
Running Time: 116 mins
Robin Hood is an American film about the story of Robin of Loxley, who returns from fighting in the Crusades in Arabia to find Nottingham under the tyrannical rule of the Sheriff of Nottingham, leading him to take part in the growing peasantry rebellion.
I didn’t expect all that much from Robin Hood, but the film is in truth a lot worse than even my low expectations. A visually bland blockbuster complete with weak action sequences, terrible dialogue, and a story with no stakes whatsoever, the film is a consistently disappointing watch, yet its confidence as a big blockbuster makes it all the more laughable throughout.
Following in a long trend of Hollywood movies that try to give classic legends and folktales a gritty modern reboot. Clash Of The Titans, Hercules, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, and now Robin Hood (for a second time in eight years), this film is an absolute mess on pretty much every level, faiing to ever grab you with any sense of excitement or stakes as it plods through a painfully generic and simplistic story.
While there is undoubtedly a positive to be taken from the fact that the film tells a slightly different story to the typical Robin Hood legend – acting as somewhat of a prequel to the folktale at times – its narrative and character development are both so weak and so predictable that it’s pretty much impossible to fully invest yourself in the story at hand.
Strangely, the story is so basic and shallow that the film feels like it could end at any point, even after ten minutes or so, yet the movie drags out over nearly two full hours, trying to salvage some entertainment value out of a generally bland and overly serious update of Robin Hood.
And that’s where my biggest problem with the movie comes in, the fact that it all feels so dark and serious. Of course, we don’t need to see the Merry Men dancing around in funny tights, but the way that the film acts as a big, hulking blockbuster makes it a very unappealing watch, worsened by the fact that there’s no real sense of threat or stakes, as it follows such a generic story that everything feels like a simple foregone conclusion.
What’s more is that the visual style is painfully dull. Brown and grey as far as the eye can see, the film is incredibly boring just to look at, while Otto Bathurst’s direction of the action sequences is frustratingly underwhelming, with forced 300-esque slow-mo and irritating shaky cam thrown in here and there, making each battle turn into a mess of visual missteps rather than a genuinely intense shootout.
With that said, however, one of the small crumbs of comfort I did take from the film was its use of arrows in shootouts in the same vein as guns. Although it comes off as a little ridiculous seeing enemy snipers loading a machine gun full of arrows, and definitely more laughable than is intended, it’s a fairly fun and unique detail of this film that does occasionally make the action a little more entertaining, even though it doesn’t make up for the worst of it all.
Finally, the screenplay and the dialogue feel forced and amateurish throughout. The performances aren’t stellar, but with dialogue that belongs in a game of Runescape rather than a Hollywood blockbuster, every moment that’s meant to bring a sense of threat or dramatic intensity immediately falls flat on its face, made further ridiculous by the contrast of the stupid dialogue with the film’s brooding atmosphere.
Overall, then, Robin Hood really isn’t a good film. It has the odd element that makes it stand out in a genre full of mishits, however for the most part, it’s an irritatingly dark and overly serious film that’s plagued with terrible dialogue, an empty story, and disappointing action throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.6.