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I really liked the first two-thirds of this movie. Rather than retelling the stereotypical Robin Hood story of a heroic bandit in green tights fighting against the evil Prince John, it presented a very different version of the story that had a very gritty, realistic feel to it. I thought that the idea that Robin was not really a dispossessed nobleman but a common soldier impersonating that nobleman was very interesting, and I also enjoyed watching the nobles scheme and plot against each other. The idea of Prince John not being a villain, but rather an incompetent ruler used as a tool by the nobles who grew into a genuinely good man was something else I liked.
Then the last hour or so of the movie screwed it all up. Robin was given additional backstory that really was not necessary for his character growth. That same backstory also detracted from John's character development, by making what was perhaps the historical John's most important achievement, the Magna Carta, something that he plagiarized from somebody else and that he refuses to sign. The best idea the writers had, that of Robin's Dead Person Impersonation, was tossed aside for the sake of a quick battle that seemed like it was mostly copied from Saving Private Ryan and Lord of the Rings. The shaky cam was so bad in some parts that I found it nearly impossible to follow the action, and on a movie theater screen it made me feel sick. The excellent build-up of the first two thirds felt wasted on this quite frankly terrible third act that felt ripped off from half a dozen other movies.
Overall, I would say don't see it in theaters. Wait until it comes out on DVD, and rent it to see if you like it or not.
Or maybe they Plotted A Perfectly Good Waste. I'm not sure.
The idea of making Robin a commoner, and having this whole, con-that-gets-out-of-hand, Accidental Hero thing was great. The early scenes of the movie were exciting, and subverted my expectations several times. That's not easy to do!
I will always pay money to see Russell Crowe wear a leather jerkin and play a Knight In Sour Armor, so no complaints there. Marion's character, too, was refreshing. At first. This salt-of-the-earth Lady Marion wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty in an age where that seems pretty much unavoidable. Her husband peace'd out to go fight the great fight, so she took up the mantle in his absence. Great. I respect that. And Cate Blanchett is always amazing.
But somewhere along the way it just got kind of silly. This movie wants you to take it seriously, but I found that hard to do when it kept pushing the boundaries of believable.
See, wielding a hoe does not make you qualified to lead a cavalry charge (of children!) against French soldiers who've literally trained their entire lives to do just that. I'm sorry, Marion. Mad props for fending off that rapist and all, but seriously, know your limitations. And I know darn-all about medieval history, but I'm pretty sure Robin Hood and the freemasons or whatever didn't have a thing to do with the Magna Carta. If your history is so Hollywood that even I notice, scholars must be tearing their hair out.
Also, after all that UST they took the trouble to build, the Big Damn Kiss is a Big Damn Letdown. She's bleeding everywhere and they are going to be smashed between two ships, shot or drowned at any moment. I found myself mentally yelling "This IS NOT THE TIME FOR THAT!" It was also reminiscent of Blanchett's other disgusting makeout scene in Babel. BLEH.
It's not all bad. King John in all his hamminess is great. I loved every minute of his screentime. The subtleties of the Royal Relationships are interesting, to say the least.
Overall the characterization, costumes, acting, score, and dialogue are great. It's the plot that ran away and joined the circus.
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