REVIEW SUMMARY: A revenge fantasy that misses its potential to reinvent the Robin Hood mythos and examine real problems.
PROS: Interesting use of the Robin Hood mythos; novella length allows for the fleshing out of some elements of the story; great cover and interior illustrations by Charles Vess, the book itself is a beautiful edition, typical of Subterranean Press’ standards.
CONS: Appears to espouse an overly simplistic and destructive redistribution of wealth ideology; plot line of destined lovers is jarring against a background of violence; shines a light on real problems without offering any real solutions; the fairy-tale wish-fulfillment ending is hard to stomach against the plight of mundane world characters.
BOTTOM LINE: Given my familiarity with Charles de Lint’s work and his long history of tackling difficult subjects like poverty and abuse and inequality with honesty, creativity and a sense of hope amidst despair, I was wholly unprepared for a story that exposed real issues in a cliched fashion while offering nothing in the way of hope, with the exception of characters who were not worthy of the hope they receive. In the end this felt like little more than a revenge fantasy built on a very thin mythical foundation. If it is meant to be an indictment on the Robin Hood mythos, it is incredibly successful. If it has another purpose, it falls well short of its aim.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Despite a strong cast and good director, Ridley Scott stuffs his lifeless reimagining of Sherwood Forest’s most famous denizen with pretension.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Upon the death of Richard Coeur de Lion, archer Robin Longstride returns to England to hold off an impending Norman invasion and, ultimately, to become Robin Hood.
PROS: Good cast (with the exception of the title character), especially Eileen Atkins as Eleanor of Aquitaine; and Robin’s liberation of grain taken from Nottingham.
CONS: Poor pacing; middling dialogue; flabby, surprisingly aimless direction from Scott; hammy performance from Mark Strong; too many scenes reminiscent of other movies; neglect of historical events and detail; and Russell Crowe.
Near the beginning of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe, whose casting immediately signals problems) and his men stumble upon a group of English knights ambushed by Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight with French lineage. Through the dying Sir Robert Loxley Robin learns of King Richard the Lionhearted’s death. Wishing to return to England, he decides to assume Sir Loxley’s identity and return the crown to King John (Oscar Isaac). Such concealment of identity and deception runs deep throughout the movie – so deep, in fact, that the movie falls prey to its own identity crisis.