“The laws of this land, enslave people to it’s king. A king that offers nothing in return.” If you have watched 1938’s “ The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn (my absolute favorite version of the rogue hero) you know that Flynn said basically the same thing as Russell Crowe’s Robin in director Ridley (Gladiator) Scott’s adaptation of the popular saga. It’s over 70 years later and Brian Helgeland has  scripted a prequel covering the years before Robin was officially declared an outlaw. It allows Cate Blanchett to transform Olivia DeHavillnd’s charming  Maid Marian into a bold warrior while Mark Strong replaces Basil Rathbone’s Sir Guy of Gisbourne with an equally bad, if not worse ,Sir Godfrey.

Robin Longstride is a skillful archer, swordsman and loyal to his King, Richard the Lionhearted (Danny Huston) despite his “slight” disagreement with him about the crusades against the French. When Richard suffers a fatal blow, Robin and his co-horts manage  to return his crown to England and to the rightful heir, Prince John. Unfortunately, John is nothing like his brother Richard and sends his right hand Sir Godfrey to collect exorbitant taxes across the country, causing Robin to take a stand against the new king.

Academy award winners Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett have that exquisite chemistry reminiscent of Flynn and DeHavilland; the only difference being that Blanchett’s Marian is considerably more feminist. Both portray their respective roles as you expect, falling for each other gradually. The intensity of emotions is only surpassed by their quest for a free England. Of course it’s not all serious, the playful banter between them will definitely have you smiling and laughing occasionally.

Bringing everything together amidst an appropriate background score is Marc Streitenfeld who seems to have become Ridley Scott’s court composer. Robin Hood is his fourth collaboration with Scott and sports a sweeping  originality to a centuries old legend on par with the movie without being totally overwhelming to the ears. Various soloists, vocal and instrumental, create a resonant texture that blends perfectly with
Streitenfeld’s  works.

Strong performances from an elite cast including seasoned veteran Max Von Sydow, make this latest incarnation of Loxley one of the best films of the year. Even better than Iron Man 2 (I know I’m being a little bold here). Sir Robin has always been a warrior for justice and Russell Crowe, under the brilliant direction of Ridley Scott envisions him much the same way Mel Gibson envisioned Braveheart.