‘Robin Hood,’ the story you thought you knew

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Oh look, another Robin Hood movie. Since 1908, there have been almost 100 films released about the legendary archer. There are also countless TV shows and books about the man and myth of 13th century English folklore. Robin of Loxley prominently fought for the oppressed by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.

The movie tagline is “The legend you know, the story you don’t.” The narrative begins with the story of a thief. We’re told to forget what you think you know, as this is not a bedtime story. We’re not so sure about all of that but it does play out like a very modern take of the traditional story, where Robin is as cool as TV’s “Green Arrow.”

Taron Egerton stars in the lead role, but filming was delayed while he finished his popular sequel to “The Kingsman.” Jamie Foxx co-stars as Robin’s Moorish (Islamic) tutor and merry man, Little John (just called John here). Together, they mount a fearless revolt against the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) and oppressive Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham) who threaten the very existence of the townsfolk.

In the current story, Robin meets Marian (Eve Hewson) the love of his life. As they settle in together, he is drafted into the military to fight the Crusades. As the Sheriff proclaims, “We must fight them there to keep them from infiltrating our land.” Ineligible for a student deferment, Robin fights and survives the war for four years.

Unfortunately, at home, the Sheriff proclaims Robin was killed in battle. Upon returning to England, Robin finds he has lost his home, his wife and wants revenge. John convinces Robin there is a bigger battle to be won for the Boyz in the Hood. Robin’s Moorish sidekick is not part of English folklore but was added by the studios years ago. Subsequent versions just accepted it and now reappears in some form in each feature.

This thrilling action-adventure is packed with gritty CGI battlefield exploits, exciting fight choreography and the timeless romance with Maid Marion (just called Marion here). An adage old as time, “The rich get richer and the powerful get more powerful.” The story is filled with the intended political undertones that define Robin Hood’s eternal popularity.

While the few celebrate their lavish lifestyles and opulent parties, they wonder why “The Hood” is upsetting the natural order of things. A commoner asks, “If the rich are robbing from the poor, then who is the thief?” Meanwhile, the Cardinal shares, “Fear is our greatest weapon, which is why we invented Hell.” We so wanted this blasphemer to get his comeuppance but he was just transferred to another Parish.

Filmed in Croatia and Hungary, Otto Bathurst directs his first full-length feature. This film cannot really compare to the 1938 classic with Errol Flynn but is an improvement over the versions with Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe and probably more relevant and entertaining for today’s youngsters than any of them.

Danish archer Lars Andersen taught the cast to shoot. Anderson became a YouTube sensation by hitting incoming arrows midair. He then hit three marks in a single leap. The weapon technology and clothing in the film, especially the machine stitching on the leather, does not match that of medieval England, but not sure anyone cares.

“Robin Hood” is 116 minutes and rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action, and suggestive references. The film is not perfect, as it’s filled with “Saxon violence” (lol). But, for today’s generation, it hits the bull’s eye. If not, there are six more Robin Hood movies currently in production at the studios, so stay tuned.

To make this movie more relevant, it seems the Sheriff and Cardinal could bring down this man in tights just by labeling him a Socialist. Not true, but it could have made the commoners all aquiver. We have a friend who grew up in Nottingham, England. When asked what it was like to live near the Sherwood Forest, he calmly replied, “Trees, lots of trees.”

Ron’s Rating: B
Leigh’s Rating: B

 

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Ron & Leigh Martel