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Review: ‘Robin Hood’: Makes a Classic Modern

CR: Lionsgate

Over the years I have watched practically every Robin Hood movie with my father. This has always made me a fan of the classic tale and was one of the many reasons I wanted to see this updated version in theaters alongside him. While many critics do not have any kind words to say about the film, I have to admit that retelling is one of my favorite versions of the films out there. In many ways this reminds me of when A Knight’s Tale arrived in theaters. The film became heavily criticized for taking a time period and revamping it with modern day music.  Robin Hood provides a sleek look to a classic tale and takes a tale we know like the back of our hand and creates a familiar account yet brand new story to add to our collection.

In this version of Robin Hood, we find ourselves in the middle of the Crusades and the corruption lurking with Nottingham by the hands of the Sherrif (Ben Mendelsohn). As Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) heads off to war, leaving Marian (Eve Hewson) back in Nottingham, he discovers the ugliness of the battlefield.  Ultimately he arrives back home to assist a revolt he never saw himself taking part in thanks to Little John (Jamie Foxx), Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin), Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan), and the most of Nottingham. While they never have a straight pathway to take down the corruption within the government, the one truth that remains is that Robin Hood never stops.

Robin Hood is an action packed adventure with scenes that include intense choreography. The battle sequences are never boring, nor can I say that about the duration of the film. Not once was I questioning the length of the film silently to myself. By the end I found myself hoping that we get the sequel and battle that the film sets up. In many ways the film is mindless entertainment. The truth is though if you listen to the beginning of the film and forget everything you know about Robin Hood you stand a chance of actually enjoying this particular version of this classic.

The changes made are necessary to bring something new to this classic tale.  The whole point of a remake is to ensure that pieces of the old story within the film and something so new and radical that the audience never sees the twist coming.  The only problem that audiences will run into in this film is that it does not make us think too much and therefore audiences will find themselves making these discoveries about midway through the film.  They are not difficult to deduct, but I can also appreciate how straight forward the film is and how it does not play too many games with its audience.

Not only does the action in the film allow audiences to enjoy it, but the performances do as well. I love the way that Robin, who primarily goes by Rob in this retelling, meets Marian. In many ways, I think this leads us down an earlier glimpse of Rob understanding the class system more so than anyone else. Upon returning after the war, Rob more so than ever realizes the corruption occurring within fair Nottingham. He also finds himself heartbroken as he realizes that Marian has not waited on him as she promised. Of course in her defense Rob was a ghost and no one should have to wait around for a ghost.

Between his interactions with various and Egerton’s charisma, Robin Hood manages to stand on its two feet. Yes, it stumbles sometimes in the beginning, but in all fairness most origin stories do. Foxx is incredible as Little John and teaching Rob everything there’s to know. He sees something different in Rob because there’s something quite different about Rob.  Rob lived a simple life before the crusades and has had the harsh cruelties of life thrust in his face.  There’s no excuse for the people of Nottingham to suffer when there’s more than enough wealth to go around.  A point that feels rather political in ties with the realities of today’s social climate.

Mendelson is absolutely perfect at the Sheriff of Nottingham.  In addition to his dialogue the mannerisms that make up the character is nothing short of the perfect sheriff.  There is never a point in the film that we want to root for him. Just like all the other versions we question him more so than any other character.  Well, in this one we definitely question the Cardinal as well as another character that to my recollection has never been posed to become Robin Hood’s enemy throughout the years, but one of his merry men instead.

While I cannot say that anyone was yearning for another Robin Hood film, this one holds one’s attention throughout the film.  I wanted to know how this telling was different than all the others.  This is definitely not the Robin Hood I grew up watching with my father, but it’s one that I think people can and will enjoy if they sit back, relax, and embrace the changes of this classic for a modernized retelling that might just surprise everyone.