Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Matthew Macfayden, Kevin Durand, Oscar Isaac, Mark Addy

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Brian Helgeland

Cinematography: John Mathieson

Original Score: Mark Streitenfeld

Running Time: 148 Mins.

Taking on the legend of Robin Hood was never going entail a simple retelling of the tale in the hands of  Scott and Crowe, initially mooted as a film entitled Nottingham that would have seen Crowe a version of  the Sheriff of Nottingham who simply used the idenitiy of Hood as a ruse, then the idea was shot down in favour of story that cast the Sheriff as the good guy and Robin as an out-and-out villain, an idea promptly discarded in favour of switching our perspectives back to Robin in what appeared on the surface to be a version of the legend we all know and love, albeit underpinned with some historical “fact” as is Ridley Scott’s will, ultimately Gladiator mk. 2.

As it turns out this is only half-true, yes the historical underpinning is there but the focus is not on Robin and his derring-do, robbing from the rich and all that jazz, rather this is Robin Begins, if you will! Opening with the crusades and seeing King Richard slain in battle, Robin Longstride (Crowe)  is an archer in the king’s army and by some contrivance ends up on a ship back to England entrusted with returning the sword of Robin Loxley to his father and the crown to the weak Prince, now King, John. As it turns out Loxley Sr. (Von Sydow) knew Longstride’s father and fills him in on his long forgotten past. As a ruse Longstride takes the identity of Loxley Jr at the behest of his father in an effort to save Nottingham, and Loxley Jr’s estranged wife Lady Marion from falling under the demands for taxes. Oh … and Longstride’s father conveniently drew up a version of the Magna Carta, so have a guess what happens there…

If this all sounds rather heavy it really isn’t and is woven into a coherent and satisfying story befitting of any historical epic, the thing is the story of Robin Hood is by definition a legend and it is occasionally that this concept is at odds with what Scott is trying to achieve, it is like he doesn’t want to give in to the fact that something can be untrue and has an undying need to place everything within the bowels of historical “accuracy”. This is fine when your character is not legendary to the point of being a treasured as was the case with Maximus in Gladiator or Balian in Kingdom of Heaven but messing around with the tale of someone such as Robin Hood seems to deny the story its magic…to give in to a cliched, but accurate, term.

 Thankfully it is married with a sense of fun, something all to often missing from the directors work, as willing as he is to linger on real people peppering the film, William Marshall (Hurt) and King John (Isaac), he isn’t afraid to spend time on those characters that are of Robin Hood lore. So there is Friar Tuck (Addy), wonderfully realised, as well as the three merry men, though they are never referred to as such, Allan Doyle, Scott Grimes and Kevin Durand, the camaraderie between them, and Robin, is great despite the humour usually mining the box marked crude or sexual, it is funny never-the-less. What this means ultimately is what many feared would become Gladiator Mk. 2 does not fall to such a fate and as such this film is as different to Gladiator as one would hope, in fact if you were to compare it to anything I would call to charge A Knight’s Tale, on a grander and slightly more serious scale!

One major plus comes in the maturity of this Robin, Crowe is in his 40’s and looks it adding a level of gravitas to the man, similarly Marian, Lady not Maid as she hastens to add, is great foil for Crowe’s gruff but never humour-less take. There is a rabble rousing speech, glimpsed in trailers, but it never feels forced and the more Robin Hood-y bits are a real treat, arrow firing aplenty and one ambush on a cart full of grain, hint at a film full of such treats directed with Scott’s usual panache and style. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the Sheriff himself is underplayed to wonderful comic effect by Matthew MacFayden though it begs the question how he would serve as a villain in the possible sequel given his bumbling and weak demeanour though it was going to be a hard act for anyone to follow Alan Rickman, so kudos to MacFayden for trying.

All of which means the real baddies come in the form of Oscar Isaac’s King and primarily the treachourous Sir Gofrey (Mark Strong), the actor competes a trio of bad-guy turns (after Kick-Ass and Sherlock Holmes) and it must be said that sadly this is his weakest, often the best thing in a film through sheer magnitude he is down-played here playing the French off against the English and inciting unrest as is the main thrust of the film in which Robin becomes a pawn, sadly the lack of a more personal vendetta means Godfrey is simply a pawn and neither memorable enough to boo and hiss at nor a driving force enough to feel connected to the legendary story, all of which means that King John himself is the best of the bunch playing it just OTT enough with an edge of slyness to hint at a greater, more central, turn to come. 

Though for all the good, of which there is a lot, and bad points there is a nagging sense that the film we really would have liked to see Scott tackle is the one hinted at in the closing 5 minutes, the real legend, in once sense it is admirable that the director and star sought to create a back story for the hero that does ring true in a sense and provides a great period film, but it is something that could well have been handled in the opening 40 minutes allowing for a solid hour and a half of “real” Robin Hood action, similar to other tellings it may have been but given how long we’ve waited for the latest incarnation that in itself is not a bad thing.

VERDICT

Robin Hood is not what you may expect, neither Gladiator in tights nor a classic take on the legendary tale, more something in-between with a lighter touch offering as entertaining a romp as you would expect from the Scott/Crowe camp , the very thing in fact that promises much of a sequel that I for one I hope we get to see.

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Variety’s story is more concerned that the screenplay is being written by Jon Spaihts, but the headline and the one-line explanation are enough to make me run around the room with glee: Ridley Scott is now attached to Alien 5 as director.

Commercials director Carl Erik Rinsch was originally reported to be the Scott Brothers’ choice to helm, with their Scott Free Productions, well, producing. But there’s no mention of Rinsch this morning. Were Fox unconvinced? Or did Ridley start getting more interested the more involved he became?

Whatever the circumstances, what does seem to be officially confirmed now (rather than just rumoured and hoped for) is that the film is a prequel to the 1979 original, presumably dealing with the events that led the elephant-faced Space Jockey and his croissant-shaped ship to crash on Giger World. 

Spaihts’ pitch to Fox and Scott Free was apparently enthusiastically received. Well clearly, since he got the job.  I’d hope Fox and the Scotts reaction wasn’t “meh, that’ll do”. Prolifically busy all of a sudden, Spaihts is also involved with Shadow 19, Passengers,The Darkest Hour, Children of Mars, and George and the Dragon. But the Alien prequel will be his highest profile gig yet.

Hard to imagine a higher, really…

To paraphrase Mark Twain, there are lies, damned lies and stories about the project known as Robin Hood, so big thanks go to Mark Strong for supplying a few titbits on Ridley Scott’s historical epic.

Strong, who was originally slated to play the dastardly Guy of Gisborne, is now appearing in the film as Russell Crowe’s nemesis, the equally-if-not-more dastardly Sir Godfrey. “A year ago I was playing the Guy of Gisborne character but the story isn’t the Robin Hood story. Although all the characters are all involved, it’s a different narrative,” he said, confirming rumours that Scott’s movie will deviate from the Robin Hood legend that has previously appeared on our screens.*

“I play King John’s right-hand man who is a bit of a bastard – there’s lot of horse riding, lots of threatening people with enormous swords.” Which is surely good news for anyone hoping for a villain of Rickman-esque genius.

* The official word according to Universal is that “Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power.” 

Original Source: Empireonline

With Vanessa Redgrave signing on, Ridley Scott has just about locked in his cast for his untitled Robin Hood pic. Redgrave will play Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is the mother of the evil King John – fellow new addition Oscar Isaacs.

The pair will join the likes of Russell Crowe – playing Hood – Cate Blanchett (Maid Marian), Mark Strong (as sheriff’s henchman Sir Godfrey) and Scott Grimes as Merry Man Will Scarlet.

Another new addition is France’s Lea Seydoux (below), who will also be seen in Inglourious Basterds, Scott’s latest has been shoved back at least once as it develops from a concept that saw the Sheriff and Robin Hood as one man to its current form – a more traditional origin story for the character.

At last he can put all that behind him – the film is about to start shooting around the UK with a view to release in May 2010.

Sir Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s much-anticipated, yet currently untitled Robin Hood project, has a release date! Huzzah!

Universal Pictures today announced that the blockbuster-to-be, which will see Crowe play Robin Hood and possibly the Sheriff Of Nottingham as well (it’s not what you think, honest) will come out on May 14, 2010.

May has become, over the last few years, arguably the biggest month on the summer movie calendar, and so putting Robin Hood, as the movie is on the verge of being officially titled, means that Universal has high hopes for it.

Certainly, they’ll be hoping that the movie rebottles some of the lightning that struck back in 2000, when the first Crowe/Scott collaboration, Gladiator, opened in May, pulled in over $450 million worldwide, and ended up winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.

Since then, Crowe and Scott have worked together on numerous films, including Body Of Lies, American Gangster and A Good Year, but none have had the commercial appeal of this movie.

Of course, the competition is going to be fierce. Iron Man 2 – now with added Mickey Rourke – kicks off the summer season on May 2. Then Robin Hood will have the box office to himself for a week before Shrek Goes Fourth lumbers into the fray on May 21, and then Jake Gyllenhaal and his rippling pecs will attempt to smite the opposition with Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time a week after that.

But, if Crowe and Scott can recapture some of that old Gladiator magic, our money’s on Robin Hood in the battle of the swashbucklers. But, just in case, best to get Bryan Adams beavering away on that tie-in song, Sir Ridley. You know, for insurance purposes…

Filming will begin on Robin Hood in the next couple of months.

Original Source: Empire

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Looks like Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood has found his Merry Men, after a trio of actors today signed on to co-star in the untitled Ridley Scott/Crowe Robin Hood project formerly known as Nottingham.

Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand and Alan Doyle will play Will Scarlet, Robin’s nephew and archer extraordinaire; Little John, professional human mountain; and the minstrel Alan A Dayle (a character that seldom featured in previous versions of the Hood legend) in the movie, which starts shooting in the UK this April.

In a curious twist, none of the three actors are English, so their Nottingham accents must have been pretty damn decent. Unless, of course, they come from the same part of Nottingham as Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

Grimes is an American best known as the ginger doctor on E.R., Durand is a Canadian built like a brick shithouse (was last seen in Lost, and he’ll next be seen under heavy prosthetics as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), while Doyle isn’t even an actor. He’s actually the frontman for Canadian band, Great Big Sea. But, given A Dayle’s proclivity for block rocking beats, he sounds like a good choice.

It’s certainly an interesting mix – clearly, with Crowe on board as Robin Hood and potentially the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Cate Blanchett signed on as Maid Marian, Sir Ridley feels that he doesn’t need any more stars in the cast. It’s probably a wise decision – I’m still trying to banish the memories of Christian Slater as Will Scarlet.

It’s been rumoured for some time, but it has now been confirmed that Cate Blanchett will play Maid Marion in the probably-titled Robin Hood, formerly Nottingham, from Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe, making this English tale thoroughly Australian.

The story, as described by Variety, will apparently stay fairly close to the historical facts of the 12th century, and casts Robin of Loxley (Crowe) as an abandoned child brought up by the people of Nottingham, who therefore develops a strong sense of community feeling.

But, psychology fans, that early abandonment means he has Trust Issues, making it hard for him to fall in love. He meets his match in Blanchett’s strong and independent Maid Marion.

Brian Helgeland (the man who made jousting cool in A Knight’s Tale) wrote the latest version of the story, which is described as the “Gladiator version” of the legend, and filming on the $130 million-budgeted film is due to start in April. Scott is apparently aiming for a PG-13 rating, presumably with Mild Scary Scenes and Fantasy Archery.