Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves
Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Brian Blessed and of course Sean Connery!
THE STORY:Robin Hood....the name itself has a life of its own. It brings up thoughts of a day gone by. An outlaw, but only such because the laws were unjust. A swashbuckling figure of heroism. Whether he existed in real life or not the point is that everyone has at least some idea of who he is. If he was ever a real person he can rest easy. His name lives on, probably as popular and well known as that of King Arthur.
You know how I first in my younger days even figured out who Robin Hood was? Well, I never saw the Disney version with the fox as Robin Hood....really. There was a cartoon show I saw as a kid with Robin Hood in space called "Rocket Robin Hood". Instead of Sherwood Forest, Robin hood lived on Sherwood Asteroid. Seriously. I swear it. ( Doctor Freex, Help me out here! You must have seen it after The Mighty Hercules!)
In this retelling of the Robin hood legend, young Robin of Locksley has been away from England fighting in the crusades.
Well this Robin Hood is not like you'd really think a real Robin Hood would be like. First of all he doesn't have an English accent. And he doesn't hang around with Little John, really. His main man is a moor named Azeem. Robin returns home to find that the evil Sheriff of Nottingham has destroyed his manor and killed his father. The sheriff's evil plot is to usurp the throne from King Richard, who is off fighting in the crusades. Robin swears to avenge his father's death.
Of course the evil sheriff learns of Robin's return and being a villain and all wants Robin's head on a pike. The sheriff consorts with an an ugly old witch and taxes the peasants heavily. His plans are to usurp the throne while King Richard is away and rule with an iron fist. To that end he sends his lackeys to kill Robin and his companions. As fate would have it Robin is hanging out with Maid Marian, who at first isn't too pleased to see him. She knows the sheriff is corrupt and evil, but fears what he might do if she outrightly opposes him. Robin, Azeem and Duncan, a blind servant are forced to flee and hide in Sherwood Forest, where the meet the "Merry Men".
The Merry Men, led by John Little (aka "Little John") are peasant men hiding in the forest. They've been chased from their homes by the sheriff's men and just accept the fact that they're the low men on the totem pole of medieval life. But Robin pretty much forces them to rebel when he begins harrassing the sheriff in town (and stealing his horse). Using the forest as a base of operations, Robin Hood and his friends begin waylaying travelers and stealing the sheriff's gold. (handing it out to the peasants and villagers...well, some of it at least) The only one of the "Merry Men" that doesn't like Robin is Will Scarlet....which of course, leads us to the inevitable conclusion that Will is really Robin's illegitimate half brother and all. I try to ignore that part. I mean, I don't know how much of that is part of the legend of Robin Hood or not, it just seemed hokey to me. I've got a lot of people that don't particularly like me, but not one of them has ever proven to be my half brother!
Eventually, the sheriff tracks down Robin's base and uncovers Maid Marian's involvement with the outlaw. He captures her a few of the Merry Men during his attack, including Wolf, Little John's son. With his remaining followers Robin sneaks into the city during the public execution and springs a surprise attack. (One that you think the Sheriff would at least be half way wary of) Robin and Azeem make it into the castle where the natural fight to kill the bad guy begins. Its interesting to note that Robin pretty much gets his ass kicked by the sheriff and wins the fight mostly by luck. (The sheriff is momentarily distracted and Robin pulls a dagger out and stabs him in the heart)
With the evil sheriff and the witch dead, Marian and Robin get married...just in time for King Richard to return and give his blessing. The end.
Ok, I know I slammed First Knight for being a little to cavalier with the legends of King Arthur, but Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves is a little different. I don't know much about the real legends of Robin Hood, but this movie is pure fantasy through and through. I'm certain any medieval history buff could point out things being wrong and anyone who does actually know about Robin Hood could run circles around the flick, but it was still pretty fun to watch. With the exception of the too-sugary pop song by Bryan Adams (I think it was Bryan Adams...correct me if I'm wrong, my droogies) I really enjoyed it. King Arthur and King Richard look a lot alike....seeing how Richard was also played by Sean Connery. (for all of two minutes!) Kevin Costner was Robin Hood and he thankfully didn't even try an accent. Azeem was "Easy Reader" Morgan Freeman. Christian Slater was Will Scarlet and Maid Marian was the lady whose name I can't spell and ain't gonna look up. Alan Rickman was the sheriff. Lord Locksley was the booming voiced Brian Blessed, who was one of my favorite characters from the first series of Blackadder.
Best Lines:"How did your uneducated kind ever take Jerusalem?"- Azeem, when Robin doesn't understand the telescope.
"Either we take our chances with the ghosts or become ghosts ourselves!"-Robin convinces his comrades that they must hide in the supposedly haunted Sherwood Forest.
"Men speak conveniently of love when it suits their purposes and when it does not it is a burden to them."-Maid Marian. You got us pegged, sister.
"English! Behold Azeem Edin Bashir Al Bakir! I am not one of you, but I fight; I fight with Robin Hood! I fight against a tyrant who holds you under his boot! If you would be free men than you must fight! Join us now! Join Robin Hood!"-Azeem the Great One, speaks to the peasants inciting them to defend themselves.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?:
1.)I'm not up to speed completely on feudal lords and how they worked really, but wouldn't Lord Locksley have some men at his disposal? After the peasant tells him of a band of men taking his daughter, Locksley armors up and goes to confront them only to be greeted by the Sheriff and a bunch of soldiers. But...but what did Locksley think he was going to do anyway? He's only 1 man and even if the peasant didn't set him up he'd be facing a dozen guys! I don't know whether that's balls or stupidity....nah, its stupidity.
2.)Did I miss something? How does Will Scarlet know that its the sheriff's horse that Robin has stolen when he just arrived in Sherwood forest with it. Robin didn't say anything to give him that information. Does Will read "Horses of the Medieval Rich and Famous" or something?
3.) Hopefully there's someone out there that can tell me the answer for this....while ascertaining how much Robin Hood has stolen from the sheriff, the scribe says "We reckon he's nicked so and so amount of money." Nicked? I know that nick is British slang stealing, but did they say that in 1194?
ALSO when Robin and Azeem are shot out of the catapult into the castle square, I could swear that in the version I saw in the theater and even in the VHS releases that Will said "Bugger me, he cleared it!". But in the DVD version I saw he says in English and in subtitles "[unwrite] me! He cleared it." So when did the word "[unwrite]" achieve this status?
4.) When Robin shows Marian the booty from the raids he and his merry men have made she's visibly upset...until he tells her that he took the cash because the sheriff was going to use it to bribe King Richard's enemies into acting against the crown. He tells her that because she at first though he was keeping it. But he NEVER said he wasn't keeping it! Yeah, he's the hero of the movie but from Marian's point of view Robin could still be planning on keeping the money! And let me add its a lot of loot in there....the life of a medieval peasant was hard....I can't believe that not one of the hundreds of guys there said to Robin "Screw King Richard! Give us some [unwrite]ing money!".
NUDITY AND SEX:There's a shot of Robin taking a bath in a stream, so you might catch a glimpse of Costner's ass.
HUH?:I can't get over how lucky the guys Robin sent as a distraction to the robbery of Friar Tuck's wagon are! They hide under these canopies they've built on the ground. First, they are extremely lucky that no one saw them when they pulled the canopies down...you can see the soldiers bearing down on them so its just dumb luck, really. Also, since they appear to be just mounds of dirt and grass under the canopies its a wonder that none of the horses stepped on them.
Robin asks the kid, Wolf, if he can make a bullseye on a target while there's distraction about. As the child fires his arrow to prove that he can, Robin tickles his ear with the feathers of an arrow causing him to miss the bullseye in the chest of the practice dummy. But the the arrow hits the practice dummy in the neck. Considering that the soldiers they'll have to fight have chain mail armor on their chests isn't hitting the neck actually better than hitting the chest? Getting shot in the neck with an arrow would still kill you! Probably faster than the chest hit!
In that same scene Maid Marian distracts Robin when he tries to hit the target. He misses completely (So much for the great Robin Hood's Archery Prowess...at least the kid hit the neck!) But his arrow narrowly misses a peasant! So these guys set up this big ass forest community for safety but didn't think that arrows from the practice range might hit some of the people living right behind it? I can see it now. Poor Roger the Shrubber comes back to his hut after a long day of Shrubbing, only wanting a tall mug of meade and his copy of "Horses of the Medieval Rich and Famous" and is cut down by an arrow shot by one of the dumber Merry Men because his home is ten meters behind the practice dummy!
Robin accepts that Will is his estranged and unknown brother too easily. If only real family squabbles could be settled so easily.
So what was all the painted man guff about? The witch complains that he's come to kill her, (obviously meaning Azeem) but Azeem never mentions it until they meet...when they meet he says "The Witch!" as if he expected her all the time. Methinks there's a deleted scene in this movie somewhere!
THE FINAL JUDGMENT:This is a popcorn movie. Really. It never takes itself too seriously, its the kind of movie where you know the good guys are all going to win. You just sit back, stuff your face and enjoy the ride. Don't look for any educational value on Robin Hood from this flick. Just enjoy it.