Ebert on “Robin Hood”

I hate to just cut and paste about four paragraphs from Roger Ebert’s review of Ridley Scott’s upcoming Robin Hood

But he seems to strike at a larger truth that has been developing at the movies and that is that big, Hollywood historical-war-pictures, aka Sword and Sandal movies, need to take break for a little while.

If you listen closely to the movie’s commercials, you may hear of a royal edict being issue against “Robin of the Hood.” A hood, in medieval English, was of course a wood or forest — a point that may be lost on many of the commercial’s viewers.

“Robin Hood” is a high-tech and well made violent action picture using the name of Robin Hood for no better reason than that it’s an established brand not protected by copyright. I cannot discover any sincere interest on the part of Scott, Crowe or the writer Brian Helgeland in any previous version of Robin Hood. Their Robin is another weary retread of the muscular macho slaughterers who with interchangeable names stand at the center of one overwrought bloodbath after another.

Have we grown weary of the delightful aspects of the Robin Hood legend? Is witty dialogue no longer permitted? Are Robin and Marion no longer allowed to engage in a spirited flirtation? Must their relationship seem like high-level sexual negotiations? How many people need to be covered in boiling oil for Robin Hood’s story to be told these days? How many parents will be misled by the film’s PG-13 rating? Must children go directly from animated dragons to skewering and decapitation, with no interval of cheerful storytelling?

The photography is, however, remarkable, and Crowe and the others are filled with fierce energy. Ridley Scott is a fine director for work like this, although in another world, Hollywood would let him make smarter films. God, he must be tired of enormous battle scenes.

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