A “Robin Hood” for the New Gen That is Still a Treat for Fans of All Ages
By Liz Lopez
Believe you me; Monday morning is not always the best time to view a film, much less one that is a remake of a story that has been told for decades. I am glad I viewed “Robin Hood” with an open mind instead of anticipating it to be like any of the other films (or television series) initially created 100 years ago (or so, depending on what lists you read). The more recent and mainstream films are “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” starring Kevin Costner (1991) and “Robin Hood” starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett (2010). And no, this is not your great – grandparents’ version of one who steals from the rich to give to the poor.
The “Robin Hood” cast members are sure to make an impression with fans of all ages given the performance of the respective characters. Taron Egerton plays Robin as a dashing aristocrat turned outlaw, and relishes the duel of wits with the Sheriff of Nottingham who thinks Robin of Loxley is his ally in the power game. Ben Mendelsohn’s performance is spectacular as a dictator who hungers for power and stops at nothing to suppress those who oppose him. One scene, he describes his life as a boy in the church clutches and as an adult, it is obvious they still have him hooked. Jamie Foxx is perfectly cast as John, the Arabian who stows away on a military ship to England after fighting in the Crusades and losing so much. His performance is the right energy and strength needed as John, who wants to form an alliance with Robin to benefit them both. Foxx takes his role seriously and takes up the drama several notches. Another stand out character is the long-haired Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin, “Californication” TV Series), who I do not recall very well from the various television roles he is in, but his performance is one that makes me want to see more of his work after viewing his style of taking confessionals in church. Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham (“Amadeus,” “Scarface”) provides a winning and evil turn as the Cardinal who is the lead power grabber and pushing the Sheriff into his bidding. Wow!
Looking back on the list of Robin Hood themed films, it seems like a new Robin Hood is developed in time for the next generation of young teens graduating into adult age whether they are prepared for it or not. This new “Robin Hood” is directed by Otto Bathurst (“Margot,” TV movie and various TV series) making his first feature debut, based on the story by Ben Chandler and the screenplay he wrote with David James Kelly (“Straw Man,” a short). Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton, both “Kingsman” films) is the rich kid who wants to stay in his aristocratic multi-story manor without a care in the world alongside his true love, the beautiful and strong willed Marian (Eve Hewson, “Enough Said,” “Bridge of Spies”). The short-lived bliss ends when the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn, “Ready Player One,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) decides to draft more men to the war he is investing in against Arabia.
Forced to become an adult and see the ravages of war, Robin of Loxley returns home after fighting for the British in Arabia with a different mind –set. He then finds he has no home, no Marian since she is now with Will (Jamie Dornan, “Fifty Shades of Grey”), and his community is forced to live in the mines they must toil in and then give of their earnings to an unjust cause. The youthful cast working alongside various veteran actors brings this story to life in a manner that will resonate with the youth who may now be able to connect with this character. He may be broken, but he doesn’t stay down. The Arabian man he fights during the war, John (Jamie Foxx), suddenly appears and helps him find the will to regain his own sense of power and change the course of their world. Robin Hood is now seen as an avenger known as “the Hood,” and newly crafted dark hoods are now being prominently displayed on doorways and other places where the mass of poor people live.
The new “Robin Hood” takes place in various places in Nottingham; the castle, the village streets, the mines and any nook and cranny where the Sherriff and the church leadership hide the loot and evidence of their power grab. There is enough dialogue to keep the story going, mixed with many action scenes full of heists, racing horses (“Fast and Furious” on horse and wagon), jumping from unexpected places, as well as things that ignite and go boom.
By the end of the film, there is enough to hint toward a sequel that now appears to be the Sherwood Forest we have known before. I strongly suggest catching the film during the upcoming holidays with such great performances and a cause you want to root for against oppressive forces.
The film also features a large cast, among them Paul Anderson, Josh Herdman, Cornelius Booth and Björn Bengtsson. “Robin Hood” has a PG-13 MPAA rating and the running time is 118 minutes.
Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment