Being a dyed in the wool Nottinghamian, it was always highly probable that I’d make the effort to go to see Ridley Scott’s epic ‘Robin Hood‘ movie soon after release. And so it was the case, lucky for me Rich played social secretary and duly arranged seats for us at Broadway Cinema last Sunday to take in the film.
Originally it was going to be called Nottingham – which would have piqued my interest more – but having seen it, clearly there was a considerable shift in direction which would have rendered the name inappropriate. I think Russell Crowe was originally due to play the Sheriff in a role-reversing retelling – as it stood, Matthew Macfadyen had little more than a bit-part to play in that role (who could beat Alan Rickman‘s portrayal, anyway?)
I was intrigued by the film too because the movie poster (see above) appears to have had my head photoshopped onto the rearmost horseman (it’s actually Kevin Durand playing Little John, who looks nothing like me normally!). All in all, there was some degree of excitement (aside from feeling like crap and having a headache) on squeezing into the less than accommodating seats in Broadway’s Screen One.
I must confess, I left disappointed. This is very much ‘Robin Hood: The making of the outlaw‘ – a prequel of sorts. There were some great action scenes, and I think beneath the slightly over-complicated scene-setting there might have been a decent story trying to work its’ way to the surface (in a nutshell: King John crowned after the death of King Richard in France, double-crossed by a supposed friend to support a French invasion which Robin Longstride (yet to become ‘Hood’) assists to unite the Northern Barons to quell, Robin is subsequently denounced as an outlaw and we end with him making a home in the Forest with Marion and a bunch of kids gone wild after their fathers buggered off to the Crusades).
It was quite clunkily delivered though – that said, Mark Strong makes a great villain in the form of the double-crossing Godfrey, William Hurt is decent as the reliable Marshall – but you’re left lacking any real character building for Robin himself, or indeed his ‘Merry Men’. Alan A’Dayle, Little John and Will Scarlett all feature – as does Friar Tuck – but you don’t really ‘get to know them’ as much as you’d like. Things just kinda happen too quickly, loosely tied in to a link between a message on a sword hilt and half-remembered moments from Robin’s childhood.
Plus you’re waiting for Friar Tuck to start telling you you’ll get double Clubcard points on your Mead.
Russell Crowe’s ability to carry an accent (or lack of ) has been subject to much comment and amusement in the media already. It’s true his northern Irish/Manc/Yorkshire/Australian hybrid was probably not all that authentic, but then given the state of language and regional accents in the 12th Century of England, I doubt very much what we (we being locals – because none of you non-locals know it!) know as ‘Nottingham accent’ existed. So it didn’t really matter to me, at least he made an effort, unlike Costner or Slater in ‘Prince of Thieves’.
All in all, probably worth seeing – and it might well set the scene for a less awkward and more engaging sequel, but it wasn’t the treat I’d hoped for. In a way I’m glad that Nottingham as a modern day entity made a typically ham-fisted and understated way of riding the coat-tails of the cinematic release, because it doesn’t really do the place justice to be associated with a film which is probably just above-average at best.