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Review: Robin Hood (2018)

Robin Hood (2018)
4 10

PLOT: Returning from the Crusades, young Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) swears to avenge the war-mongering of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), teaming with a Muslim soldier, John (Jamie Foxx) to bring peace to the land.

REVIEW: As far as potential franchise launches go, it’s hard to think of any as woe begotten as this “reimagining” of ROBIN HOOD, already a tale that’s arguably been told way too often (and too well) on the big screen. Making Robin a hoodie-wearing superhero, who shoots arrows like bullets and never picks up a sword (Robin Hood without a sword fight???) and speaks with a contemporary laddish accent is going to go down as a costly lesson for all involved. Box office doom has been inevitable since the first, widely-mocked trailer dropped a few months ago.

One has to wonder why the makers decided to call this ROBIN HOOD at all, as the premise is essentially lifted from the old Tyrone Power version of THE MARK OF ZORRO, where Robin poses as an aristocrat to warm up to the Sheriff, while raiding his coffers by night. Almost nothing from the Robin Hood mythos is taken other than names. Even then, their relationship to the actual characters are tenuous at best, with Jamie Dornan being called Will Scarlet, but otherwise having no similarity to any version depicted in a Robin Hood telling.

Even still, fidelity to the story is arguably the least important aspect of doing a ROBIN HOOD reboot, as yes, it’s been done well plenty of times. They could depart from it as much as they want, but the issue is that what they’ve come up with is so generic and silly that one has to wonder how it managed to attract such a healthy budget and pedigree (with Leonardo DiCaprio as a producer).

Egerton has proved himself in the KINGSMAN franchise, but he still seems awfully boyish and slight for the lead here, being dominated on-screen by his older co-stars, Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn. He’s also too contemporary, but given how director Otto Bathurst plays with the period aspect, by opting for a Baz Luhrmann like approach (although it winds up being a lot more like the now dated A KNIGHT’S TALE), this seems intentional.

The clothing has already been much discussed, but it’s incredibly silly how well-tailored the designer leather duds are. If they had stuck to this look, it would have been one thing, but they criss-cross between characters wearing period rags, and then sporting long-sleeve, fitted tees. Eve Hewson’s (as Maid Marian) wardrobe is especially mod, as is her eyeliner and hair, which looks freshly blown-out at all times. Suspension of disbelief is fine, but the filmmakers take it too far. They seem to be aiming for a “cool” middle ground between period and silly, but they miss the mark by a wide margin.

Of everything though, to me the most grating aspect was how badly the film plagiarizes THE DARK KNIGHT. One character’s whole arc is directly patterned on Harvey Dent/Two-Face, while the climax seems to have been choreographed to Hans Zimmer’s “Why So Serious” cue, with Joseph Trapanese’s score dangerously close to becoming a generic sound-alike at times (a bummer – Trapanese is a terrific composer who could have done better had he been given the opportunity). Do they really think audiences will be fooled into thinking this is in any way original?

The bright spots are few and far between, with only Ben Mendelsohn’s inspired scenery chewing providing any real entertainment value. Some of his speeches about the church, in particular a harrowing tale about how he was molested by priests as a boy (which is grotesquely turned into a one-liner by Robin in the climax) seem lifted from another movie, and were someone to dig up the revisionist NOTTINGHAM script that almost got made by Ridley Scott some years ago, he’d be a swell choice to lead. Otherwise, this ROBIN HOOD retelling is a dud and one that I’m sure all involved with will disavow in the years to come.

Source: JoBlo.com

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