Months after the theatrical release of this new version of “Robin Hood,” a certain cloud of doubt hovers over this film, which can be found at your local retail outlet or Blockbuster Video.  And given the fact I am no expert when it comes to this story or anything related to it, I won’t pretend to think this was handled perfectly by director Ridley Scott, but it worked for what it was meant to be.  Make no mistake about it, this is a story before Robin Hood became a legend and had it been marketed that way from the beginning, some might have given this film a shot. Well, here’s your chance or a “re-do,” so forget what you previously heard and watch this DVD, for it will surprise you in more ways than one.

It all starts back to the 12thCentury where a little known archer by the name of Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his crew are attempting to return from a crusade after seeing their King, Richard the Lionheart, killed in battle. But, along the way, they get ambushed by the King’s guard led by Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) who was on his own crusade, until news of the King’s death was known.  Robin quickly took advantage of this opportunity and chased Godfrey out of the woods, slaying the remaining knights and taking their armor as payment. Before hopping back on the ship to the mainland, however, Robin was stopped by one of the dying knights and asked to return a sword to his father, in which Robin agreed.  Upon arriving in England and informing the Royal family of Richard’s death, Robin and his crew head to Nottingham to return the sword to Loxley’s family, which included his wife Marion (Cate Blanchett).  Untrusting of Robin at first, Marion came around and the two formed a likeness to one another that proved vital when they were attempting to save Nottingham, as a result of the French invasion. It was then this entire story started to spin, building to a wicked crescendo full of politics and intrigue that might have you smiling when it’s all said and done.  I know I was.

Knowing Russell Crowe is playing the title character should be enough for anyone that has doubts about this cast, but the ironic thing about that is, his role could have been played by anyone with talent. I realize that’s a shocking revelation to some, but it’s one I feel very strong about after watching this story unfold. Crowe was never given the opportunity to really standout simply due to the vanilla script. That’s no slight on Crowe or the well manufactured script; it’s just the fact of how his character was built.  He truly didn’t seem to be in the film a whole lot and when he was, it was very much subdued with, yes, very little archery.  But, again he can only do so much with the dialogue handed to him and with that, he was great not allowing his presence to overshadow the story or fellow actors, who pretty much just fell into place without you really knowing. Maybe that’s a good thing, given it was meant to do more storytelling, but I would have liked a little more history behind the characters.

I’m confident there are still some that view this film as a missed opportunity to reinvent this franchise, but not me.  And what’s funny about that opinion is anyone that has it won’t be able to back it up with a logical reason, often reverting to the previous films and depictions of this famed character, instead of just accepting this film for what it is. This version was never meant to upstage or replace what Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman created in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” or somehow add more humor than what Mel Brooks did with “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” This is Ridley Scott’s take and if you know the director at all, he takes nothing lightly by honoring the story at which he is directing. That’s what this version of “Robin Hood” was and will be known for and if this is truly the beginning of more, we’re all in for quite a treat.

B

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