Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Go To

  • Awesome Music:
  • Better on DVD: The Director's Cut adds in 12 minutes of new footage, including an entire subplot with the Sheriff and Mortianna. She's his biological mother and using him as a pawn in her Evil Plan to get Nottingham on the throne in King Richard's absence.
  • Advertisement:
  • "Common Knowledge": Even to this day, reviewers often comment on Kevin Costner's lack of historical accuracy in using an American accent rather than a British one. However, a modern British accent would be no more accurate to how 12th-century English people sounded, and their language would be nigh-incomprehensible to a modern speaker. And Robin himself, as a Norman, would probably not even speak English (the real King Richard didn't, after all).
  • Complete Monster: George, Sheriff of Nottingham, is trying to usurp the throne of England from Richard the Lionheart. He tries to convince Robin's father to join him, and kills him when he refuses. He then trumps up charges of devil worship so he can seize Locksley as his own. He has a castellan's eyes put out for doubting the charges, becomes a cruel despot who has children killed for hunting on his land, and sexually exploits women. When Robin first defies the Sheriff, he threatens to Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon. The Sheriff then gives Guy of Gisborne a fortnight to capture Robin Hood, and runs him through with a sword when he fails. After that, the Sheriff attacks the Merry Men's village and takes captives, including children, whom he threatens to hang if Maid Marian doesn't marry him. On their wedding day, the Sheriff decides to hang some of them anyway - starting with a kid - before Robin rescues them all. The Sheriff then tries to force himself on Marian as the Bishop is saying the wedding vows.
  • Advertisement:
  • Crossing the Line Twice: Nottingham, being performed by Alan Rickman and all, makes such a hammy and snarky performance of every evil action he makes, it's hard to take his atrocities too seriously. He also nearly rapes Marian with darkly comical pronunciation, even doing an acrobatic split to separate her legs at one point.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Sheriff of Nottingham gets this treatment, with many female fans finding him more attractive than the hero. It probably helps that Alan Rickman's performance is played to such hammy perfection that he steals pretty much every scene he appears in. (That and the fact that he's, you know, Alan Rickman.)
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Arguably. If you don't know that Judas Iscariot was paid thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus Christ, the line where Friar Tuck gives that same amount to the bishop "to pay the devil on your way to hell!" doesn't have quite the same impact.
    • Advertisement:
    • This movie is often mocked for using American accents for an English setting. However, American English is barely further away from Middle English (the accent that would have been spoken at the time the movie is set in) than most modern English accents are (particularly RP), so the outrageousness of Costner's accent is rather overstated. It might have been more easily forgiven if none of the cast spoke with modern English accents, but as most of them do, it makes Costner's performance in the lead role stand out like a sore thumb.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The movie was a complete success in Spain, and it appears on television at least once a year with pretty good rates. It helped that it got a Superlative Dubbing which eliminated the weirdness of Costner Not Even Bothering with the Accent while keeping Alan Rickman's Ham and Cheese intact (although it did have a couple of instances of "Blind Idiot" Translation).
  • Ham and Cheese: Alan Rickman's Sheriff is easily the best thing in the movie. When he won the 1992 BAFTA Award for "Best Supporting Actor" for the role, his acceptance speech was:
    Thank you. This will be a helpful reminder to me that subtlety isn't everything!
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Mike McShane is well known to a lot of viewers for his hilarious performances on the British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but his portrayal here of Friar Tuck shows that he really has quite a range of talent.
    • To some, Christian Slater's performance might qualify. While his attempts at a British accent are perhaps even more questionable than Costner's decision not to even attempt one, it's hard to deny the emotional impact of the scene where he reveals his parentage, and the reason for his hatred of Robin. Hard to believe he could sell it so well until you watch it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Cary Elwes and Patrick Stewart were among the actors considered for Robin and Richard, respectively. Two years later...
  • Just Here for Godzilla: You are forgiven if you watch the film just for Alan Rickman chewing the scenery as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Mis-blamed: A meta-example; the film is rather notorious for the fact that a few members of the cast, and Kevin Costner in particular, lack a British accent. However, what we consider a British accent today is a fairly recent innovation, and having characters speak with said accent doesn't make them any more or any less accurate to the time period. If accuracy were that important, the characters really should be speaking either Old or Middle English (the film takes place during the period of transition between the two), which would be largely incomprehensible to a speaker of Modern English. Furthermore, as part of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy, Robin may not have spoken English: Norman French was the language of the English nobility of the time, and in fact Richard I himself didn't speak English at all. Of course, the fact that most of the characters do speak in a modern English accent, including those who were not native Brits like Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, make it hard to defend the central character not having one.
  • Money-Making Shot:
    • Robin firing a flaming arrow in Slow Motion in front of a wall of fire. No one who's ever seen the shot forgets it.
    • The shot where the camera seems to "ride" an arrow to its target. It was only supposed to be in the trailer and ads, but it was so popular that it got added into the movie proper at the last minute.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Sheriff of Nottingham crosses this when he tries to rape Marian when Robin comes to interrupt their forced marriage.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Kevin Costner still gets ribbed on for playing a British hero without a proper British accent — sometimes affectionately, sometimes not. Never mind the fact that a modern British accent would have been no more accurate than an American accent (or that as a Norman noble, Robin may not have spoken English at all).
    • For some reason, Christian Slater hasn't had nearly as much mockery, despite his clumsy attempt at sounding slightly less American.
  • Newer Than They Think:
    • Rumor has it that this film borrows several elements from Robin of Sherwood (including the Moorish Merry Man, the Celtic influences, and some supernatural/occult element) because the writer hadn't done enough research to realize that Robin of Sherwood had invented those bits and thought they were standard parts of the legend.
    • The sobriquet "Prince of Thieves" itself, while fitting nicely, only dates back to this film. (It even inspired the name of another film, Princess of Thieves, which focuses on Robin and Marian's daughter Gwyn; however, that one is a Made-for-TV Movie and not a sequel to this.)
      • Actually, the sobriquet is Older Than They Think - it comes from a 1872 novel written by Alexandre Dumas (published posthumously), which was one of two books he wrote with his take on the Robin Hood legend (French title: Les Prince des Voleurs. English title: The Prince of Thieves). Despite the fact it isn’t one of his best known works, the book was then turned into a now forgotten 1948 film with the same name, but there’s no suggestion that the Producers would have known all this when they were naming this movie.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The NES game, while not awful, is prone to Fake Difficulty, including several Unintentionally Unwinnable situations and is also quite buggy. The designers also tried to cram together RPG and action game elements very awkwardly.
  • Special Effects Failure: Twice, someone goes crashing through an alleged stained-glass window. Both times, it's painfully apparent that the windows are colored paper.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: One of many Robin Hood films which is this to the novel Ivanhoe.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Neither Robin Hood (2010) nor Robin Hood (2018) were as successful or as memorable as this one.
  • Vindicated by History: Although the film had both its fans and critics at the time of its release, the later failures of Robin Hood (2010) and Robin Hood (2018) have retroactively raised the general opinion of this adaptation as one that finds the sweet spot between 2010's Darker and Edgier take on the material and the often-ludicrous Anachronism Stew of the 2018 offering.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Prince of Thieves breakfast cereal. A breakfast cereal based on a movie that starts with someone's hand being cut off and keeps going, all the way up to an attempted rape scene.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: