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‘Robin Hood’ (2018, review)

Produced by Jennifer Davisson, Leonardo DiCaprio
Screenplay by Ben Chandler, David James Kelly
Story by Ben Chandler
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx,
Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin,
Jamie Dornan, Cornelius Booth

When someone goes to remake a classic story, there are generally two ways to go about it: stay true to the original source material or completely update the tale.

However, we know that there is also a middle road to this.

Baz Luhrmann catapulted to fame after his modern remake of Romeo + Juliet, which stylized the telling, but used Shakespeare’s own prose.

Unfortunately, placing Robin of Loxley in a hoodie and arming knights with shields reminiscent of riot gear does not freshen up this story.

Instead, it gives the entire film an air of desperation in demanding that something very light on substance be taken seriously.

We all know the story, but there are some serious departures that do nothing but remind the audience that going three-quarters modern strays too far from a successful formula and does not go far enough to create a transformative work.

Robin (Taron Egerton) is drafted into the Crusades and bids farewell to Marion (Eve Hewson) as he goes off to war. Skipping over the fact that no one was drafted in the Crusades, we are treated to soldiers in cutoff shirts and armor designed to look like a Desert Storm flak jackets with a medieval flair. From this moment on, the heavy-handed political parallels are clumsy and fast. The politics of war, corrupt churches, fear-mongering, xenophobia — the film tries to touch on all of these but is barely able to grasp its own core concepts of robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

There are precious few actual theft scenes, and the overuse of CGI arrows takes away from the stellar archery training videos of Taron Egerton that were floating around the internet.

Egerton was also the solo performance that managed to hit all the right notes, which is a shame as no one has ever played Robin Hood twice. He was funny, charming, physical, and most importantly believable as the lord who gave it all up to serve the people. Jamie Foxx’s accent wandered constantly, though his frequent overdelivery of lines was still better than the comical sinistery of the Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn) and the Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham). Both actors gave 150% when only 25 was required, and 10 wanted.

On the other end of the spectrum were the one-note Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlett and Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck. Both were forgettable in their roles to the point that Dornan could have been cut completely and not greatly impacted the story.

If Robin Hood let itself have as much fun as others will in poking at it, the film would be great fodder for a bad movie Saturday. Unfortunately, in working too hard on attaching weighty themes and not enough on developing characters to care about, Robin Hood wastes both a promising performance by Taron Egerton as well as the audiences’ time.


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