Robin Hood (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In A Word: Misguided

Robin Hood 

Eve Hewson plays Marion and Taron Egerton, Robin Hood, in the new movie of the same name. PICTURE: Attila Szvacsek.

 

"Robin Hood attempts to layer a theme of social activation against tyranny. In this scenario the tyrant is the church and it is stereotypically presented as corrupt and hypocritical. The only hope against such rule is not just a simple thief but the symbol of “the hood” that will inspire the masses to unite in rebellion. This heavy-handed civil rights message reaches its climax when Marian quotes the famous line 'If not us, then who? If not now, when?'."

The classic tale of Robin Hood has entertained audiences for centuries in books, plays, songs and motion pictures. In recent history Robin has been played by Errol Flynn, a Disney fox, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe. Now the youthful Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Sing, Billionaire Boy Club) plays the iconic character in this stylised new version.

Drawing on the rich history of the legendary thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, familiar characters such as the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), Marian (Eve Hewson) and Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) appear just as you would expect. The character of Little John (Jamie Foxx) has been significantly revised as a Muslim warrior who recruits and trains Robin Hood to almost superhuman levels of swashbuckling action. This Robin takes a cue from Batman’s playbook where he maintains dual identities - one, a rich noble by day, and the other, a vigilante by night, where he swings, shoots and leaps across the screen.

As entertaining as Robin’s acrobatics are, the rules of physics, logic and any form of historical accuracy fly out the window almost as often as the Hood jumps out of them. This is a world where bows fire with the rapidity of a machine gun and the impact of a shotgun, crusaders look like a special ops team in Desert Storm, and, revolting peasants wield molotov cocktails and look like they’ve been lifted out of a Banksy painting. 

Director Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) remakes the world of medieval Europe into a muddled hybrid of old and new. Whether it be the sheriff’s leather jacket or Robin’s hoodie, the costumes are a deliberate mix of modern styling in a medieval world. This modern facelift extends to the gaudy interior design, the dystopian exterior architecture and the superhero-style fighting that comes complete with a boot camp training sequence. It all looks dazzling but does little to create a believable world. 

Robin Hood attempts to layer a theme of social activation against tyranny. In this scenario the tyrant is the church and it is stereotypically presented as corrupt and hypocritical. The only hope against such rule is not just a simple thief but the symbol of “the hood” that will inspire the masses to unite in rebellion. This heavy-handed civil rights message reaches its climax when Marian quotes the famous line “If not us, then who? If not now, when?” 

This modern retelling of Robin Hood just takes itself a little too seriously, which ironically, makes it laughable. For the greatest enemy of this Robin Hood is not the evil schemes of the villain, but this misguided attempt to modernise a classic.