Action Adventure

Review: ‘Robin Hood’ Promises a New Tale, but Misses the Mark

November 21, 2018Sara Clements

By now we should all be familiar with Robin of Loxley, the thief who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. In this latest adaptation of The Hood's origin story, we are promised a new iteration of the English folktale. The film's narrator instructs viewers to "forget what you know" of the man under the hood because what they are about to see is far from a Disney-esque bedtime story. While Otto Bathurst's film does put its own spin on the narrative, as have all the adaptations over the last century, ultimately, it breaks its promise of something new.

That's not to say there aren't any differences. Changes are made in regards to characters like Little John (Jamie Foxx), who is no longer our protagonist's sidekick, but his mentor; however, allowing The Hood to be referred to as "Rob," while dropping the signature green frock for a jacket off the runway and a blue scarf for a pop of color, aren't big enough differences that make this story worth revisiting, no matter how appealing the stylishly modern set pieces and costumes are.

Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw whose story has been recounted dozens of times. A common thread throughout the adaptations is that he is a symbol of hope for the impoverished — someone they can look up to who will lead them in the fight against their suppressors. This remains true in an adaptation that tries to put an edgy and modern spin on a timeless fight against corruption.

Taron Egerton trades his spy gadgets for a bow and arrow as he fights on the front lines of the Crusades, and later, in a crusade of his own. After four years at war, he returns home to find that his land has been taken and that his sweetheart has moved on with Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan — why is he stuck in films like this? Has no one seen The Fall?), who is traditionally depicted as one of Hood's Merry Men. Egerton's Hood blames all of this on the Sheriff of Nottingham, yet another antagonist played devilishly by Ben Mendelsohn (sporting Orson Krennic leisure wear).

The film begins with the introduction of a thief — not the titular thief, but Marian (Eve Hewson), his sweetheart. Following the "forget what you know" spiel, this was an indication that perhaps something different would be done with her character. Perhaps she wouldn't just be a damsel in distress or just Robin Hood's sweetheart. Perhaps she would fight alongside him or perhaps there wouldn't be a love story at all, and if there hadn't been, it would have made for a better, more cohesive film. The romance scenes are all unintentionally funny and take away from the bigger picture. Most Robin Hood stories depict Marian as a woman of independence and strong-willed, and while she does make decisions of her own in the best interest of her fellow commoners, she is more often than not left in the background, kicked down, and in need of rescue; and Hood blaming the Sheriff for him losing his girl and being his biggest motivation to fight is tiresome.

Robin Hood doesn't end where it should, leading to the implication there will be an unnecessary sequel, but if you're just looking for a popcorn action flick, it delivers with its fast-paced and well-executed fight scenes and an intensity that increases as Hood ups his stakes. Abandoning his Merry Men, all the impoverished fight alongside him in this story of class struggle that retains its relevancy.

Robin Hood releases November 21st, 2018 from eOne Films. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive references. Its runtime is 1 hr. 56 min.

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