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Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES

Directed by Kevin Reynolds (1991, Warner Bros.)
Starring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, and Alan Rickman

A young noble-man steals from the rich and gives to the poor under the tyrannical rule of an evil Sheriff.

 

 

September 10th, 2010 on DVD for the 6th time  
    Still a lot of fun, I thought the fight scenes seemed rather underdone, compared to contemporary fight scenes. On the other hand, I thought the simplicity of the plot and fighting was rather interesting, in that it brings us back to a simpler time, when people could just thrash each other with the sword, rather than have to have martial arts training.

Maybe I was just tired, but the portions of the film, even the new ones that expand on Nottingham's relationship with the witch, bored me more often than not. I don't think she needed to be in the movie at all, though it does explain why he is so insane (despite what he says to the little girl near the end).

Still quite enjoyable as a whole, however.

 

 

5 stars

July 6th, 2003 on DVD for the 5th time  
    This is definitely one grand sweeping adventure, and I loved it, once again.

The first thing to notice, right from the opening credits, is the music. I have listened to the soundtrack CD since this movie first came out, but the movie's actual soundtrack is much more extensive. The action music is the best, from Robin's encounter with Gisbourne to his fight in the water with Little John, and the action to rescue the outlaws who are to be hanged. But the softer music is also terrific, very simple. Marian's theme was terrific, an instrumental of Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do".

The DVD, which I had to own, since I love this movie so much, contains scenes not shown in theatres, as well as restoring scenes that were cut from the video version. Having seen the theatrical version only once, and a long time ago, at that, I didn't remember any of the scenes that were re-extended here. All of the truly new scenes involve Nottingham and the witch, and these all improve her presence in the movie, which I complained about below. The Sheriff doesn't really believe in religion, but must for the sake of appearances. In the extended scenes, we see that the witch forces him to practice the old religions, with pagan rituals, and at one point, he turns the pagan symbol upside down to study it as a cross-like shape, wondering why he bothers... The witch also reveals that Nottingham is her son, switched at birth with a noble child. Interesting!

The DVD really cleaned up the color -wow! The robes that Robin and Azeem wear were terrifically royal in colors. Everything is bright, the scenery is nice and green, and everything is very sharp!

The best parts of the movie don't really involve the Sheriff. It is the charismatic Robin and the terrific Azeem who steal the show. Marian is gorgeous, but is also able to keep pace with the warriors, at least until the end, where she turns into a screaming weakling. At least when Robin and the Sheriff were fighting, she could have opened the door for Azeem to come help. Instead, she stands there, whimpering -except the terrific scene where she dumps hot wax onto the Sheriff!

The shot that I think is the most memorable is the one featured on the cover of the original video release, of Robin shooting a fiery arrow with the gunpowder fire burning in the background. I thought it was terrific.

The documentary that accompanies the movie on DVD is interesting, though obviously made for dramatic flair. Pierce Brosnan is hilarious as he tries to be mysterious, but he manages to cover a lot of ground in half an hour, with tid-bits on the making of the movie, the legend of Robin Hood, the locations and people that Robin visited, and the development of the character through history. The other stuff is not really worth watching. Most of it is in the form of text-based history, on weapons, production, and so on. If I wanted to read, I would pick up a book. I bought the DVD so I could watch video. The Bryan Adams "live" was pretty poor quality -I would rather have had the music video that appears at the end of the video edition. The trailers are always worth watching, but the TV spots were better, didn't ramble as the theatrical trailer did. Finally, the actor interviews offered some small insights, so they were worth watching once.

There is a special feature called Music, which offers the soundtrack, while watching the static menu of available tracks. I appreciate it, though I would rather listen to my CD, and I wonder why they couldn't have put it on the first disk, to play through while watching an animated menu, like on the Apollo 13 DVD. That would have been much better.

 

 

5 stars

February 25th, 2002 on Video for the 4th time  
    Even though there was a lot of silliness and odd dialog, this movie is still terrific, with great acting, a terrific score, and amazing fight sequences.

I didn't remember how silly the sheriff of Nottingham was. How he ever came to the position of power he holds when the movie opens is beyond me, with the way he carries on, his temper, and his whole foul demeanor. I also don't know why the witch was put in the movie. What was her purpose? If all her scenes were cut, we wouldn't have missed a thing, and probably would have been much better off. Yes, she provided the means for Azeem to redeem his vow, but that last moment where she comes back to life and he breaks through the door is a bad horror movie cliché, and doesn't belong here, because it looks like Azeem's redeemed vows were remembered as an afterthought.

There are several other things that I don't understand in the movie, things that really don't make sense, but probably did back in the year 1000. Why did Robin's father rush out and charge dozens of cloaked warriors? He might have been safer by riding back into his castle and trying to outlast a siege. At the end of the movie, why does Nottingham try to consummate the marriage? He knows that the city is in revolt, and that dozens or more people are hunting him. He knows he is as good as dead (even if he is delusional). I suppose he knows Marian will not die, so his seed will carry on, and he will have a son on the throne, even if he isn't there to see it... But English royalty goes from blood to blood, and the husband of a Queen does not become King.  Unless Marian ended up being a very weak Queen, he would not be in a position to command the country, anyway. (This is all assuming that the Monarchy worked the same back then as it does now.)

Anyway, those points do not detract from the movie at all. The success of the film, I think, derives from the fun it has in getting to its destination. There is a lot more humor here than I remembered. From the Sheriff's response to his cousin's "with a spoon?"... "because it's dull, and hurts more!", to Azeem's response that his name is "Moorish", and so many others, it really added a light touch, in a subtle way. Many of the greatest lines come from Azeem.

Kevin Costner as Robin of Locksley, who becomes Robin Hood, is terrific. He convincingly defends his homeland, shows great emotion when confronting his burned-out castle and then Marian ("the years have been... [gulp] kind to you", he says to her maid, thinking it is her), and telling her about her brother. Marian also does a great job of not believing him, or wondering if he is still the young boy she knew six years earlier. The fact that Robin Hood doesn't have an English accent does not deter at all from the performance, and must be considered a nitpick only by traditionalists who require the hero to be English. 

Escaping from Guy of Gisbourne, Robin makes his way into Sherwood Forest, where he has a beautifully scripted and terrifically scored fight with Little John. Becoming an outlaw himself, he grows in their confidence, and as they see what he is not afraid to do for his homeland, they begin to have hope again. Azeem is right in warning him that these people are not warriors, and I think he dismisses the advice too quickly. But he knows what a little hope can do, and how people defending their homes can be more than a match for paid warriors, something he learned while on the Crusades in Jerusalem. 

The farmers and outlaws become soldiers, however, in a believable amount of time. The training and exercises are really cool to watch, and they get some battle drills by relieving rich people of their gold and silver as they pass through the forest. The look on that rich daughter's face as Robin lifts the rings from her fingers is precious! She doesn't seem to mind his thieving hands on hers one bit.

Eventually, the outlaws get their hands on money meant to bribe the English barons into supporting the Sheriff's claim to the throne. I don't know how this was supposed to work, but it doesn't really matter, because with enough support, he could probably do what he wants, and when the King returned, he would be fighting the battle as an underdog. With the money comes Friar Tuck, who is hilarious as well. He spends most of the time thanking the Lord for beer! When Marian comes to visit, she pretends that she has been blindfolded, and Robin shows her the threat to their society. And through a dance that seems to last all night long, they fall in love.

Inadvertently then, Marian allows the Sheriff to find the hiding place of the outlaws, and he attacks, using the northern Celts as a first wave of the assault. The battle is ferocious, extremely well choreographed, and has at least one moment of grave concern, as Little John and his wife are separated on different burning structures. Robin intervenes, and ends up unconscious for the rest of the night, hidden in a pile of hay. 

Will Scarlet is an interesting man, and it takes the entire movie to find out why he hates Robin so much. He is the bastard son of Robin's father, by the peasant woman he took comfort in after his wife died when Robin was young. Robin never forgave his father that indiscretion, forcing them apart, and giving Will a poor childhood. But when Robin finds out he has a brother, he nearly weeps with joy, and they are reconciled. 

They concoct a plan to free the prisoners who are to be hanged in the city. The ones who are being spared will live because Marian is forced to agree to marry the Sheriff. But when Robin attacks, with help from Azeem and barrels of gunpowder, the Sheriff panics. The special effects here, as well as the acting, was superb. The way the camera follows the arrow tips as they fly to their targets has not been surpassed until recently, with movies like The Matrix, or, even better, Legolas' arrows from The Fellowship of the Ring. And I have to love everybody's reaction to the gunpowder being blown up.  Startled is an understatement!

Needless to say, Robin kills the Sheriff and rescues Marian before she is raped, the witch is killed by Azeem, and the corrupt bishop is killed by Friar Tuck. Robin and Marian are married, with a ceremony interrupted briefly by the return of King Richard, in a great cameo by Sean Connery!

All throughout, the action was so well made, well acted, and well choreographed, with help from great dialog (most of the time) and terrific music. The humor helped the story move along, and I don't think there were any wasted scenes, aside from those with the witch. Alan Rickman did a superb job with the Sheriff, even though I thought the character was a little too over-the-top. His actions and motions were exactly those of an obsessed man who sees his world falling apart, and as he becomes more desperate, so do his actions, until he makes more and more mistakes and falters.

The love story between Robin and Marian is wonderfully developed, as she mistrusts him at the beginning, to seeing what he has done for all those refugees and allowing her heart to warm to him (especially after seeing him bathing by the waterfall!). There are subtle nuances everywhere, from Fanny's desire to help with the rescue of her son Wulf, Robin's gesture of comfort to Duncan with bread, and Azeem's help with the delivery of Fanny's baby. Friar Tuck learns that much of what he "knows" about the world outside the comforts of his home is not true, especially when it comes to the "infidels". And Azeem really steals the show, with his scientific expertise, his wisdom, and his attitude towards life. This is a feel-good movie, about the weak overcoming the corrupt rich, about teaching people what it means to be free and honor-bound, and re-educating them if they had forgotten. A fantastic story, extremely well presented.
 
   

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