According to IMDb, the only Robin Hood movie Ridley Scott enjoyed was Robin Hood: Men in Tights (source). Not the 1973 Disney cartoon. Not the 1938 Adventures of... with Errol Flynn. And not even the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which, in my opinion, was the best of the lot. I'm also fond of the other two. Of course, I like Men in Tights as well, it's a great parody. Anyway, why do I care that some d-bag has taken a crap all over a great legend that has spawned many good movies? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that he tried to make one of his own this year.
Here's the thing: Robin Hood is not supposed to be "great". It's a fun story about an archery nerd who fights the law and gets the girl. The rest is just details, and is probably not well known and/or made up, as each Robin Hood film deviates from the others on these points. The big difference is that the Disney cartoon, Men in Tights, and the 2010 version have a Prince John, a brother to Richard the Lionheart, who seeks the throne. Other details are more minor.
When it comes to criticizing Prince of Thieves, it always comes down to Kevin Costner not having a British accent. That is the only flaw in that film, and frankly, it's so damn good, it's hard to notice. Not to mention the great cast supporting him. It looked good, it felt good, and aside from Mel Brooks' parody, it really didn't need to be messed with, as Kevin Reynolds had created, pretty much, the perfect Robin Hood film. With or without the directors cut that came later (which only added to the Sheriff's backstory, though, the more Alan Rickman the better).
So where did Ridley Scott's version go wrong? Well, right from the beginning, you know this movie has no soul. It's dark and dreary and everything kinda looks the same. It's like they really wanted you to know that this movie takes place nearly a thousand years ago. Because the color TV colorized the world. Yep. And thank God for HDTV, we really needed those extra dots, the world was so blurry before. Yeah. I mean "Amen".
But is looking like crap enough to tarnish a movie? Not if it's excellent. Which this isn't, but giving it a pass -- okay, King Richard is done with the Crusades (a holy war to get the Infidels -- the Muslims -- out of Jerusalem) so he's sacking all the European countries on his way back, specifically France -- wait, what? This has to do with Robin Hood how? Oh, and then instead of staying back and commanding the armies, he's earning his Lionheart title, he's out there playing catch with arrows, blocking them with his shield, making an ass out of himself. Spoiler: He misses one. Catches him right in the throat, too. So right in the middle of battle, he asks for, and receives, wine. Under fire of arrows, his trusted men who didn't have his back before are right there with the wine. I don't think a single one gets shot. Oh, and the guy who shot the King is bragging about it. France and England/the UK have been allies longer, historically, than they've been enemies. Do you really want to be known as the guy who killed the King of England? No, you don't. So shut the f**k up and keep shooting. At most you just wanna say "I got one!" and then go about getting another one.
Oh wait. It gets better. Maid Marian lives on a farm (except it's Marion now, because Ridley's cool like that) and some little kids in masks come and steal all her grain. From a barn two miles from where she's sleeping. But she gets woken up, and she fires a flaming arrow two feet from where one is standing -- and two feet from the barn, which is covered in hay and straw. Good thing she's as good a shot as Robin Hood. She should have fired a second one to split the first one to show how awesome she is.
All the while the movie throws a bunch of characters at you. They may or may not be important. They may or may not be named. An hour later... oh and he's not Robin of Locksley anymore, he's Robin Longstride now. And he meets a fallen knight named Robert Loxley -- yeah, "Locksley" was too much for Mr. Scott -- and takes his name. You would think this would be an issue, that people who knew Robert Loxley would know that Robin Longstride isn't him -- but not only do all but Loxley's wife (Marian) and father not notice, but his father insists he continues to pose as his son, and gives him carte blanche at Marian. Marion, sorry. Marion plays along begrudgingly at first, but then starts to fall in love with him. Because he's played by Russel Crowe, and Loxley was played by some nobody. (I don't know who played him.)
That's just the first half of this 150-minute monstrosity, but that's about when I stopped watching. I usually don't quit movies, but this was bad.
OK, by contrast, my favorite Robin Hood movie...
* Looks great. Who'd have guessed that in real life, medieval England looks beautiful?
* The whole King Richard stuff is backstory. All of it. Because it doesn't f**king matter! King Richard shows up at the end, played by God... I mean Sean Connery... and it's awesome. He's not a pompous ass who gets shot for being a dick.
* Maid Marian's an actual lady. She can take care of herself, more or less, but she's not an expert archer.
* The story is simple. You can follow what's going on. It gets out of the way of the awesomeness. It doesn't feel like a long movie. You get to know the characters very soon after they're introduced (except, perhaps, for Wolf -- the boy chased by the Sheriff's men early on). Oh, and in addition to Sean Connery, it's got Morgan Freeman in it -- as a badass with a scimitar! Also as previously mentioned, Alan Rickman as the Sheriff. That's Professor Snape to you younger kids, and the bad guy in Die Hard to you older folks. Well, that'd be my generation, but damn, I forgot his name.
I give it a solid 2/10 for some decent archery and the potential to be a cool medieval film, and for actors that probably tried real hard to make the best of a crappy movie. Maybe I'll force myself to finish it at some point, but I'm not looking forward to it.