Seemingly there are endless amounts of Robin Hood movies. The story of the thief of Nottingham continues to pop up every so often with some different twist or spin on the classic story. Few of these many remakes have resonated in any real way with larger audiences. I am only familiar with the animated version from Disney but the story is far from unfamiliar. Robin Hood’s tale has bled its way into stories of all kinds for as long as I can remember, so I know and understand the main beats of the story. The newest version of Robin Hood, from director Otto Bathurst, falls in line with many of the previous versions, forgettable. Robin Hood is a story with an interesting enough premise, a thief that steals from the rich and gives to the poor, that makes plenty of sense in our current climate. Add in the action/adventure style and there is a foundation for what should be a crowd pleasing movie for this time of year. Unfortunately, this foundation didn’t develop into anything compelling or interesting. That’s why Robin Hood is so forgettable; it is completely unspectacular.
The rather bland experience that was Robin Hood started and was at its most frustrating with the screenplay from Ben Chandler and David James Kelly. An unspectacular story comes from unspectacular characters and that is where this movie fails the most. Robin himself should be this charismatic, fun character and the film casted the very charismatic and fun Taron Egerton for the role, however the character itself was mostly void of those characteristics. That comes from a simple and hollow character on the page. Like every other character, Robin has no signifying traits about him. He is more like a collection of archetypes for this role than he is a real person. This is exacerbated by his lack of a clear motivation for Robin of Loxley to become Robin Hood. The end result is a disappointing character that is uninteresting and impossible to invest in.
While Robin is the most important character he is far from the only character that felt underdeveloped and hollow. His love interest, Marian (Eve Hewson), may be the most egregious example of this. We first meet her at the top of the movie, breaking in to steal horses from Robin. She is the most dynamic in this scene and the promise of this charismatic strong woman never really pays off. She subsequently falls in love with Robin and then loses everything about her character. She is more the object of his affection and desire than anything on her own, which was quite disappointing. Every other character suffers from a lack of motivation. The sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) was evil for evil’s sake. He was all over the place and had no clear reason for him to be doing the things that he was doing, in spite of Mendelsohn really trying to bring the most out of the character. He was watchable because of what Mendelsohn brought but that made it all the more frustrating. The same cannot be said for Little John (Jamie Foxx). Foxx’s overacting and odd choices made the character tough to watch. The character on paper suffered from the same problems as the rest and the performance made the character even worse. These bland characters, including Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan) and Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin), were completely uninteresting to watch and really cut the movie off at its knees, because boring characters will make for a boring movie almost every time.
The only time a movie can get away with poorly written characters is in an action movie and that’s because the action is very well done. That however, is not the case in Robin Hood. If the characters are poorly conceived and boring, then the action follows suit. There is plenty of it to go around, from strange battle scenes with arrows to underwhelming heists from Robin, the movie gives plenty of action moments. Unfortunately, none of the moments hit. There was nothing fun or fresh that Bathurst brought to the table. The excessive amounts of slow motion shots were frustrating and the sheer lack of excitement was puzzling. Even a third act chase scene with random fire shooting from the ground (that reminded me of when Kevin Hart used the same effect in his stand up special, Let Me Explain) was void of any actual excitement. Better action sequences could have at least made the experience fun, instead its lack of innovation just added to the unspectacular feel of the movie as a whole.
Robin Hood is boring, the worst kind of bad. How a charismatic and interesting character played by a charismatic performer with supporting actors that are all charismatic, can be so boring is beyond me. Instead of spending time with the characters, the movie was more interested in adding to the plot, which in turn made the whole movie unnecessarily confusing. The confusing misguided attempt to modernize the movie made it strange and distracting aesthetically. The whole movie seemed to have good intentions but poor execution. It all felt like a mash up of the worst part of other action movies and that was very disappointing. The only real hope left is that the sequel set up by this movie is forgotten, like I’m sure this movie will soon be.
1 out of 5 stars
Director: Otto Bathurst Writers: Ben Chandler & David James Kelly Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson & Jamie Dornan Release Date: November 21st Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 1 hour and 56 minutes