With director Ridley Scott at the helm, and an all-star cast led by Oscar-winning Aussies Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, “Robin Hood” is a meticulously rendered and acted historical journey that ultimately suffers from a meandering pace.
Set in the time of Richard the Lionheart’s crusade in the 12th century, Robin Longstride (Crowe) is an archer in Richard’s army. He begins to journey toward home upon learning that Richard has been killed in battle.
After being ambushed en route, Robin makes a promise to return dying knight Robert of Loxley’s sword to his father. Robin makes good on his promise and travels to Nottingham. He returns the sword to Loxley’s father, who asks him to impersonate his son to prevent their land from being taken by Lady Marian, Loxley’s widow (played by the über-talented Cate Blanchett).
Meanwhile, there is an inside plot with the French to take control of England. Villages are pillaged and overtaxed to cause civil unrest. What ensue are large, detailed, intriguing battle scenes reminiscent of “Braveheart.”
This take on the classic tale is more like a prequel, similar to “Batman Begins.” It sets the backdrop and context for the legendary Robin Hood character.
The effects and sets put together by director Ridley Scott appear elaborately realistic and accurate. At times you literally feel you’re witnessing a real-life 12th century battle. Unfortunately, the battle scenes along with the acting were the highlight, where the parts are greater than the sum.
Unfortunately, the charisma of Crowe and the virtuoso of Blanchett can’t save the pace from feeling painfully slow and dragged out like a long-drawn-out novel.
Sticking to the positive—the theatrical experience is benefited by sweeping aerial cinematography, providing an almost IMAX nature-film feel.
This rendition of the legendary story falls short of expectations based on previous collaborations of Crowe and Scott (“Gladiator,” “American Gangster”). The character development was solid and the cinematography was brilliant, but somehow, there was something lacking. It fails at fully drawing in the audience, while seeming overly prolonged. History buffs may appreciate certain elements in this version, but it was just not enthralling.