Review: Robin Hood
There’s a scene in the new Robin Hood where Sir Walter Locksley (played by Max von Sydow, a Swede) tells Robin (played by Russell Crowe, an Australian) that he stinks.
Oh, how apt.
First, the good about Robin Hood: Cate Blanchett (an Australian) is excellent as Marian, transforming her beyond Token Woman status. She lights up every scene, as they say. Also, Blanchett nails the East Midlands accent. More on that in a sec.
The fight scenes are decent and King John (played by Oscar Issac, a Guatemalan) is suitably decadent.
Other than yet, it…well, it stinks. Or stinketh if you prefer your English ye olde style, although one need not worry about historical credibility when watching this film. After all, we are to believe that Robin Hood had a hand in Magna Carta.
There are two problems with Robin Hood, one of which an American audience might be able to forgive but which for British audiences is a hammer to the head: the accents, oh the accents!
Crowe’s is simply awful, ranging from Irish to Australian to vaguely northern English. What’s worse is that it seems to switch half way through the film. To an ear that can hear these accents, it’s simply too distracting. Rather than enjoy Robin’s rousing speech to the barons, all I could hear was Crowe’s weird accent. It’s embarrassing, something I think Crowe knows hence his rude behaviour in a recent BBC interview.
Given that this film was made in the UK by a British director and crew, one wonders why someone didn’t tell Crowe how awful he was. Or were they afraid he’d throw a telephone at them? Probably. But then again, if Locksley can be Swedish and Little John Scottish, I suppose no-one noticed. Kudos to Blanchett for being the only one who bothered to get the voice right.
All of that may fall on deaf ears outside of the UK, so let’s consider how else the film fails. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator worked so well because beyond the swords and togas there was a compelling personal tragedy which made us root for Maximus. This is simply not the case for Robin Hood: we don’t care about Robin, we don’t care if the French conquer King John’s England, we don’t believe that Robin’s father was a 12th century MLK, we’re not interested in the feral children of Sherwood Forest, and sorry, but RUSSELL CROWE’S ACCENT IS AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL.
Robin Hood is set up for a sequel. The legend is interesting enough to offer hope, but not unless Crowe gets a new voice coach and Scott finds some way for us to care about Robin. Having the Sheriff of Nottingham crucify Marian and sell him into slavery might work.