PG-13 Dir: Otto Bathurst | Lionsgate | 1h 56min
Plot: What’s it about?
I’m convinced that there are certain movie genres that, no matter how many times they’re filmed, will still continue to get made and make money. Well, maybe just the first part. We all know the story of Robin Hood, the man who, with his band of merry men, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Many films have taken a few liberties with this legend and with this 2018 offering, we get a few more (and a surprisingly political version as well). More on that below. What always gets me is why? I’m not saying we need one definitive version of Robin Hood, I’m all for diversity. But I felt that the 2010 Russell Crowe version would be around long enough to gather some dust. But no, here we are not even a decade later with another. This time starring Taron Egerton, who the studios must feel is now an “action” hero thanks to his efforts in the Kingsman films. Ready or not, here we go.
After moving in with his girlfriend, Marian I(Eve Hewson), Lord Robin of Loxley is summarily drafted into the English army where he’s sent to fight in the Crusades. He’s stuck there for years. After a lengthy battle, Robin meets John (Jamie Foxx), a Moor who nearly kills him. Robin’s life is saved by his buddies and then finds himself (though some fast-forwarded plot contrivance) back in England where he’s lost essentially everything. John recruits Robin to strike back against the English. Of course, we’ve got to have lavish set pieces coupled with rapid fire arrow firing and we get them all. And more. And what would Robin Hood be without the baddest of them all – the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn), who seems right at home playing the antagonist.
Yes, the film has a “been there, done that” feel to it, but there are some liberties taken here and some pretty modern themes. It’s not as bad as you might think (Rotten Tomatoes scores aside). My main issue with this film isn’t the set design, casting or anything of that nature. They’re all competent actors and they’re all fine in their respective roles (though I feel Mendelsohn is a bit typecast in the “corporate bad guy” role as he was in Ready Player One). But no matter which way you turn Robin Hood it’s still…Robin Hood. It’s definitive. We know what’ll happen, we know the characters and we know the essential themes. The only difference is the casting, how cool it can look and what, if any, red herrings they can throw at us. And by now there are enough versions of this “timeless classic” that everyone will, could and should have a favorite. If not, give it a few years as I’m sure there’ll be another one.
Video: How’s it look?
It’s a good-looking film, no doubt about that. I found Robin Hood to benefit from HDR and even noticed things that I don’t know were present in the Blu-ray version. I say that, of course, but I’m sure they’re there. I think any movie that takes place in this timeframe has to have a very muted, earthy-toned color palette and that’s fine. I’m reminded of Game of Thrones when watching this. Lionsgate’s 2.40:1 HEVC 4K image simply startled me with how much detail is packed into that picture. Flesh tones are spot on, Jamie Foxx’s “tattoos” reek of HD glory and I’m hard-pressed to find much left to say. It’s a stellar-looking transfer and it’s a shame the movie itself wasn’t better.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is a thing of beauty and just listening to the uncompressed soundtrack brought shivers down my spine. Then again I had the flu, so that might have been it as well. There’s an unaccompanied depth that parallels this track, one that really made me want to crank up my receiver a few more notches. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m going deaf after my years and years of movie-watching. Or maybe I was in a “Yeah, get her Robin!” kind of mood. Whatever the case, this one delivers the goods (stolen from the rich and given to the masses, no doubt).
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Outlaws and Auteurs: Reshaping Robin Hood – This seven part documentary is, far and away, the supplement with the most to offer and clocking in just over an hour, all the bases are covered. We hear from the cast and crew, see some behind the scenes footage and, most importantly, why they decided to make yet another Robin Hood.
- Outtakes – You know the drill, standard flubbed lines and laughing on the set.
- Deleted Scenes – Eight minutes’ worth, though it’s an an odd format with timecoding on the bottom. I really don’t see how any of these would have added anything to the film.
The Bottom Line
If you feel the need for yet another rehashing of this “timeless” classic, then by all means – knock yourself out. Why don’t you follow that up with Dracula or a zombie movie because, you know, those haven’t been overdone either. I kid, but if you’re looking for a demo-worthy movie to showcase your system, this is up there with the best of them. I just felt that the theme has been played one to many times.