Robin Hood has had an interesting history when it comes to cinematic adaptations. As a character in the public domain, there are no rights or licenses required, meaning anyone can make a “Robin Hood” film. The latest attempt, was 2018’s Robin Hood, starring Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Rocketman) in the title role.
Upon its release, it was not well received by critics and failed to make much of an impression with audiences. Sitting at a measly 15% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.3/10 on IMDb, this version quickly came and went through cinemas almost as quick as one of his arrows. With it landing on Netflix recently, now seems like a good opportunity to revisit the film. So pull up your hood, draw your bow, take aim, and ask whether Robin Hood was really that bad.
“We’re Men, we’re men in tights!”
The big trends in Hollywood for the last few years have been superheroes and shared universes. Robin Hood tries to be both of these things and not in a subtle way. This is an origin story for Robin (Taron Egerton), his usual green hood and tights, replaced with a more practical hood and scarf. He takes several cues from Batman (or Green Arrow), rubbing shoulders with the rich by day and robbing and fighting crime by night. Complete with brooding over Marion in his manor.
It has all the beats of a superhero film, complete with a training montage and big reveal of our hero in costume for the first time, as well as maintaining a double life between his public persona and “The Hood”. However it doesn’t quite lean into this angle enough, with the action not being anything spectacular, and a disappointing lack of archery prowess.
“This won’t be like any war you’re used to”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film and one it should have leaned into more are its modern-day influences. The film stops short of being set in the present, but the inspiration is clearly there. Especially in the scenes set during Robin’s time-fighting in the crusades, which look like scenes from “Black Hawk Down” or “The Hurt Locker” rather than a Robin Hood film.
This extends to the costumes too, with are a perfect blend of past and present, with Robin now sporting a leather jacket, but still looking like he belongs. This applies to all the characters, particularly the Sherrif and Marion. It’s an odd style choice but works. It’s a shame the film wasn’t just set in modern-day. The way arrows fly past and damage walls, as well as the small, handheld crossbows, are clearly meant to be in place of guns.
“I reckon he’s just getting started”
Many reviewers were not kind to the film. citing it as boring. Several compared it to Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” which took a similar “dark and gritty” approach to the character, with poor results. Another common criticism was the borrowing of elements from better films, such as “The Dark Knight”, without doing anything new of its own. As well as being pre-occupied with setting up a sequel.
However not every review was negative, and even the negative ones praise the actors. Taron Egerton and Ben Mendelsohn receive plenty of recognition, as well as the unique costume designs. The action scenes were mixed, with them being enjoyable but the later ones harder to follow
Was It Really That Bad? …. No
It’s not perfect by any means, and would probably be more interesting if it fully embraced it’s modern influences and changed the setting, but Egerton is likeable as ever, and Mendelsohn could play the Sherrif in his sleep. We’ll probably never see the sequel it desperately tries to set up but there are worse ways to spend two hours.
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