Unreal Movie Review: Robin Hood


I hate being tricked into going to a film that turns out to be completely different than what it was advertised to be, and I can’t think of a better example of this than Robin Hood. I did not realize this was a bona fide prequel to Robin’s antics in Sherwood Forrest, rather I just thought it was a more realistic telling of his classic tale. Instead what we have is the story of the (completely fabricated) events that led up to his (also fabricated) legendary feats, because you know, showing the legendary feats themselves would have just been too easy.

But that’s not what I thought I was getting, because here’s the trailer I watched: I saw King John declare Robin “of the Hood” an outlaw, I saw the Sheriff put up a wanted poster of him in Nottingham, I saw a military convey ambushed by archers, I saw Robin hold a sword with the inscription “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” Does this not imply we’re going to be seeing an outlawed Hood and his friends torment the King and his minions in the name of social justice? The story of Robin Hood we all know and love?


See? It’s even in the film’s promotional shots.

But the trailer neglects to tell you that all of these scenes are either out of context or are in the last five minutes of the film, and you’ll spend two and a half hours waiting for the movie you THOUGHT you were seeing to start, as in the film’s epilogue (spoiler alert, except the trailer already did that for you) Robin Hood is finally branded a criminal and the Merry Men are assembled in full at last. Only thirty seconds later, “And so the legend begins” pops up on the screen, the credits roll, and a very confused audiences wanders out of the theater.

This isn’t Robin Hood, not at all. It’s just some English soldier who fought alongside other English soldiers against the French in a historical battle that most definitely never actually happened. He shoots a bow under a dozen times in the entire film, he’s in no way any kind of outlaw and he’s not even on the King’s or Sheriff’s radar until five minutes before the end of the film. Instead he spends quite literally an hour and a half of the movie wandering around Nottingham pretending to be someone else while his Merry Men get drunk off of Honey Meade and sing folk songs.

Meanwhile, King John (Oscar Isaac, who is no Joaquin Phoenix) is more of a caricature than the maneless lion who had his role in the Disney animated film, yelling nearly half his lines for no reason and his schizophrenic character arc is built toward absolution only to be inexplicably and jarringly reversed at the last minute, an effect which only serves to weaken the film, despite it being needed to move the mangled plot forward.


I am KING NOW! You have to LISTEN TO ME, even if I sound RIDICULOUS!

It took me a while to actually figure out that I was watching a PG-13 movie, a fact I might have discovered that fact sooner had there been more than one battle sequence in the first two hours of the movie. I’ll be the one to say it, blood and guts can make a good action sequence great, and stop for a second and imagine how a bloodless Gladiator might have looked. That was a great movie in many regards, but nearly every fight scene in it is legendary for both its brutality and choreography. Robin Hood has neither, and all we see are an endless amount of arrow skewerings and people on horses swinging swords at other people who then throw their hands up in the air and fall down. There’s not one memorable action sequence in the entire movie, which is a big letdown considering the world’s most famous archer who’s supposed to be the lead of this film.

Having just left the theater and immediately sitting down to pour my frustration with the film out in this review, I don’t want to neglect what few good elements the film does have. It’s quite funny, more so than I expected, and this comes courtesy of Robin’s Merry Men (Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes and Alan Doyle), but even Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett get in some good lines. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Crowe’s portrayal of Robin (though he does give a few too many cheesy slow motion yells for my liking), but he’s just not given much to do, as he’s not the tree hopping, arrow slinging, freedom fighter we know and love. He’s just some guy; he eats, he sleeps, he fights, he gives motivational speeches and that’s really about it.


“You only got this part because I looked too fat next to Sienna Miller.” (True story)

But honestly, I don’t blame Crowe for any of this. At this point, I’m really starting to worry about Ridley Scott. The legendary director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator hasn’t made a truly good movie in over ten years now, and Robin Hood might be his weakest effort to date in a genre that he should dominate. I suppose I can blame the PG-13 muzzle for why the action sequences in the film fall flat, but the film has much greater issues than that. This isn’t the story that should have been told, and the one that has been is horribly paced, completely un-compelling and drags on for what seems like an eternity.

Maybe there’s some long lost director’s cut of this movie that has more footage to make this into a decent film like what happened with Kingdom of Heaven. But I feel like that can’t be the case, because I can picture an entire hour of this film being cut which would only serve to make it better; I can’t imagine adding more to it would help in any way.
I wasn’t expecting this movie to be good. I was hoping it would be, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to leave literally angry about what I’d just seen. Bad form, Ridley. Bad form.

1 out of 5 stars

Similar Posts


  1. I’ve been talking like King John in this movie ever since I saw the trailer.

    “What are you doing today?”
    “I might go FISH-IIIIING!”
    “Where at?”
    “Probably around CASTLE ROOOOOCK!”

    Shit’s addicting.

  2. “The legendary director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator hasn’t made a truly good movie in over ten years now”

    I know you mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven improvements making it a decent film, but that is a severe understatement. That was a great film that the studios butchered, and I’d put it in his top 3, ahead of Gladiator. Its just a better film.

  3. I’d love to know who actually thought a Robin Hood prequel was a good idea, because I’m pretty sure I could him my script for “The Holololcaust: A Musical Romp Through Auschwitz” for millions.

  4. Thanks for the review, and spoiler info … but I already had an inkling that this was the deal.

    See, this was never designed to be a standalone Ridley Scott film, as I understood. Ridley likes TV lately (as its becoming more cinematic, and allows for long form storytelling), and this was meant to be a theatrical pilot episode to an upcoming series, which may or may not still be on the way (its not that easy to get both these things off the ground, especially while being pulled in the direction of Aliens prequels).

    If this isn’t the plan, or never was … then truly this is just a marketing failure on every level.

  5. I had the same “this isn’t Robin Hood what is this crap” reaction, but I thought it would be okay with King John signing the Magna Carta. Like it would be a cool twist or something. But no they fucked that up too. Also the sheriff was just a chump who was hardly in the film, and he’s the main antagonist in the whole Robin Hood mythos.

  6. I never saw the trailers and I liked the film. There wasn’t really a moment I was not entertained (except the last battle scene I guess, which was a little long). Obviously, they could have called it something else than Robin Hood and still made a great movie, but I liked the new take – even though I was originally skeptic during the first twenty minutes or so.

  7. I couldn’t agree more. I was really disappointed with the entire movie. Was it just me? Or was there literally NO chemistry between most of the main players?

  8. This movie should have been rated R, and I have a feeling there was a last minute cut job, but it was pretty good overall and 1 out of 5 is a little extreme.

  9. “Does this not imply we’re going to be seeing an outlawed Hood and his friends torment the King and his minions in the name of social justice? The story of Robin Hood we all know and love?”

    Really? That’s the story of Robin Hood we all know and love? I must have missed the part of my childhood wherein Errol Flynn and an animated fox turned into a professor of Contemporary Anthropology at NYU.

    The story of Robin Hood I know and love is an outlaw killing dudes with arrows, romancing royal chicks and generally buckling serious swash. “Social justice” – whatever the fuck that means -had nothing to do with it.

  10. I am the only one who caught this comment from Russel?

    “I know you mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven improvements making it a decent film, but that is a severe understatement. That was a great film that the studios butchered, and I’d put it in his top 3, ahead of Gladiator. Its just a better film.”

    Sorry, but I can’t help but laugh right in your face for this one, and I actually like Kingdom of Heaven. Fact is the film was about two hours of air. It is in no way a better film than Gladiator on any level at all. Also, did you know that Ed Norton is in Kingdom of Heaven? True story. I had no idea.

  11. “the legendary director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator hasn’t made a truly good movie in over ten years now”

    Black Hawk Down (2001)

    …but yes. Robin Hood was shit. Great Review.

  12. absolute tripe… i walked out of the cinema about an hour into the movie, it was pure torture and not worth giving up another minute of my life… this movie sucks !!!

  13. In all fairness, the trailer did say this was the story of Robin Hood before Sherwood Forest. Although I do agree that the trailer was misleading in its chronology.

    I also agree with your point about the battle scenes. They were surely not memorable. However, one star? It surely wasn’t the greatest movie, but I think your rating is a bit low. I believe you were simply bitter that you weren’t seeing the film you expected. You didn’t give yourself the chance to enjoy the film as it is.

    Also, reviewing a film immediately after you see it is never a great idea. I would suggest waiting one or two days to let the effect sink in.

    Just my two cents.

  14. @grant

    Good points, I was just so steamed that I had to sit down and get all my thoughts out. I normally do wait a few days.

    But looking back, all my points still stand, and I just do not think it’s a good movie, even if I view it for what it is and not expect something else.

  15. I thought the same thing: this isnt robin hood.. its just a war movie.

    and then I was:
    -oh, its a begins kinda story, nice.
    1 hours later:
    – ooook the origin is good, can we get to the forest thief part please?
    1 more hour later:
    – just one scene of classic robin hood and we’re back to war? enough of this!
    30 minutes later:
    -yes, now the good part starts.. THE END.. WTF!!!??

  16. and btw, the story was all wrong. for all I know outlaw Robin was fully active when King John took the trone when his brother was on the crusades. like the time in the first 30 minutes of the film.

    in the movie he turns outlaw when king jonh neglets to sign the magna carta. that was 1 year before king john died. I doubt the legends of robin hood happend in only one year..

  17. Thank you so much! You saved me from wasting money on what would have been an overwhelming disappointment. I think if they’d just done the Kevin Costner version with Russell Crowe it would have been fine.

    There’s an idea. With digital technology it just might work.

  18. It wasn’t the magna carta that he neglected to sign. It was the “Forest Charter”, which was apparently real, as Russel Crowe spent the majority of an interview about the film rambling about it. It was spectacularly dull, but basically it was about giving human rights to peasants, rather than limiting the king’s own powers.
    I did not go to learn about medieval politics however, and found the film, much to my surprise, incredibly boring.

  19. Okay, now the On Stranger Tides is forgiven. This is absurd! This Robin Hood was a really great movie and I loved it! It was one of Ridley’s better works. The fact that this is not the tale we know does not make it bad. In fact, it makes MUCH BETTER. And it is dark too and the darker the movie, the better! Movies should be as dark as you can get. Do you know what a good movie is? I guess you criticize Kingdom of Heaven as well (my favorite movie of all time!)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.