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Film Review: Robin Hood (2018)

An analysis of Otto Bathurst's Robin Hood and how it compares to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

Taron+Egerton+stars+as+Robin+of+Loxley.
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Film Review: Robin Hood (2018)

Taron Egerton stars as Robin of Loxley.

Taron Egerton stars as Robin of Loxley.

Taron Egerton stars as Robin of Loxley.

Taron Egerton stars as Robin of Loxley.

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Taron Egerton stars as Robin of Loxley.

 

Director: Otto Bathurst

Producer: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Basil Iwanyk

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan

Spoilers to follow

Robin Hood is centered around the origins of a timeless hero who has been subject to many blockbuster films. It follows the journey of war-hardened Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) as his friend and mentor, John (Jamie Foxx), teaches him to fight back against the cruel and calculating Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) and win back the love of former flame, Marian. Yet, when compared to previous undertakings, like that of Kevin Costner or Mel Brooks, this new rendition comes up wildly short.

With this new take, Bathurst’s attempt to put a modern spin on the classic tale fails miserably. The original Robin Hood story takes place sometime in the 1200s-1300s, yet here we have fashion styles that are misplaced by several centuries. Current styles are merged with tradition to entice viewers rather than enhance the story. What’s more, is the nobility find themselves clad in costumes reminiscent of the Capitol citizens in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series. Beyond the questionable wardrobe malfunctions, weaponry has suddenly become far more advanced than one would expect of rural England. Arrows suddenly penetrate like bullets and become deadly weapons of mass killings.

Furthermore, this rendition is primarily an action film, filled with close combat sequences and chases, explosions and near death experiences. They leave you breathless and on the edge of your seat. However, the major flaw with this is there is relatively no frame of reference for these sequences. Editing was quick and choppy and provided no awareness for surroundings. Even video games like Super Smash Bros. leaves gamers more satisfied with the action of kicking Kirby off the stage.

One of the most obvious and glaring flaws is the similarity to that of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed The Dark Knight. The parallels are unbelievable. You have Robin, essentially Bruce Wayne, but in Nottinghamshire. Just like the DC undertaking, Loxley returns from war, everyone believing he is dead. He returns to his life of glamour yet steals from the Sheriff and help the poor. Furthermore, his old girlfriend, Marian has taken to a Will Scarlett (Jamie Dornan) the political white knight of the poor, similar to Rachel Dawes’ relationship with D.A. and champion of the people, Harvey Dent. But in the end, Scarlett, just like Dent is hardened by the loss of his lover and turns towards the ‘evil’ side.

The all-star cast, one would assume, would help bring the one-dimensional dialogue to life, but this is not the case. Renown actors Foxx and Mendelsohn aren’t fully immersed in their roles and it is clear that this does not compare to their other performances. Cheesy lines and shallow dialogue may be satisfying and jaw-dropping to younger viewers, but seasoned viewers are left disappointed in the lack of depth. A great example would be in the opening dialogue. Robin, setting the scene with a bit of narration, says “This is no bedtime story,” or something to that effect. But I am left questioning that statement because the very premise of the Robin Hood legend is that it’s a comforting bedtime story that is meant to bring hope to those who have none. This, paired with a most predictable plot does not challenge viewers to a think beyond the scope of the story.

Now, in my opinion, the sins of a modern crutch are to some degree, excusable. It would be incredibly difficult to make any kind of money on a film that is filled with dreary clothing or archaic technology. Whilst it is flaunted in this rendition, I can understand the motives. Even the shallow plot, I can understand. If targeted to an early teen audience, it could even be considered a hit due to the romantic appeal. Unfortunately, the lack of originality is its biggest downfall and fails to draw viewers in. Though the ending sets it up perfectly for a sequel, I highly doubt that it will get one, considering the critical response.

However, despite the flaws I detailed here, there is a silver lining to this. If you are a fan of ‘heroes journey’ style plots, this just may be the film for you. The tortured hero is quite an overdone trope, if that is exactly what you look for in a movie, then this may indeed satisfy you. If you haven’t seen the previous Robin films and are simply looking for a fun and humorous film that plays on the trope of good vs. evil, then roll the dice on this take because it just might appeal to you.

Image Credits:

“Exclusive: See Taron Egerton Show off His Archery Skills in 'Robin Hood' Sneak Peek.” EW.com, EW.com, ew.com/movies/2018/10/10/taron-egerton-robin-hood-sneak-peak-archery-skills/.

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Film Review: Robin Hood (2018)