Max von Sydow
A lot of that of course might have to do with the story tinkering this film's had to endure since its original inception as NOTTINGHAM, from writers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris. The central concept of which was that Robin Hood was actually the Sheriff of Nottingham. That idea is what sparked interest in the project in the first place, but in the years since its creation by Reiff and Voris, the screenplay had gone through three more revisions, reportedly costing the studio somewhere around $6-7 million. That's just scripting costs!
And in the end, it shows. Which is a shame because the cast does what they can here to make something worthwhile. Most notably, Max Von Sydow as Walter Loxley, Oscar Isaac as Prince John, The Merry Men played by Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes and Alan Doyle, and finally, Danny Huston in the short time he's on screen as Richard the Lionheart, playing the King of England like some broken and repugnant animal of a man. (Tell me it's not hilarious as he shakes the water off his long locks of hair - like a lion would! - as he bathes in his opening scene.)
Russell Crowe acquits himself well, but doesn't do anything particularly noteworthy in the part (nothing approaching his work in GLADIATOR or even Scott's AMERICAN GANGSTER from a few years ago). Cate Blanchett, an actress I absolutely love, fares a bit better. She brings great charm and levity to the film, but I continually felt that was more a product of her persona and screen presence than anything actually derived from her part in the script (her Marion is written strong, ready to wield a sword and armor in a flash). Mark Strong shows up as bad guy Godfrey, and, well, Strong's played about a dozen and one bad guys this year alone, so he can play "evil" in his sleep. We also got Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham who appears for a grand total of like five minutes in the film and does a whole lot of nothing. That should tell you just how different this story is from what you know. And finally, there's William Hurt as William Marshal. I think this might be the first time I've ever seen Hurt in a sword and horses period piece. Too bad he doesn't really do anything but be William Hurt with an English accent and a wig.
I'm a huge fan of Ridley Scott. I dig the look, the feel, the tonality... just the basic signatures of his films. And as such, there were elements of the film that I did enjoy (a lot of the humor I think really works). But even as a fan, I freely admit that much of what Scott has done here, he's done better elsewhere. Missed opportunity, and that's just too bad.
The Art of Nottingham: A glimpse into the pre-production art and design of ROBIN HOOD, including conceptual art, costume designs, storyboards, and more.
Rise and Rise Again: The meat and potatoes of this home video release, running just over an hour long, is an extensive "making of" chronicling the production of the film. Also includes a bit of talk regarding the infamously retooled NOTTINGHAM script. Great stuff.
Deleted Scenes: Extended and altogether cut scenes are included here - some superfluous, some rather interesting - featuring commentary by the film's editor Pietro Scalia.
Also included are two Theatrical Trailers and six TV Spots, as well as a DVD disc featuring both the Theatrical and Director's Cuts, and an extra disc featuring a Digital Copy of the film.