taken from: http://harrisdunnonfilmtv.blogspot.com/
Before this film was released, on multiple occasions I heard the tagline, 'Gladiator in the Woods' being thrown around. For the most part I thought it sounded like a fair assessment of what this, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe's latest collaboration was to be. But I now believe that is an unfair and rash judgement on a film that is very much a different animal.
That's not to say that the two films don't have some similarites, the most obvious to me was Ocsar Isaac's portrayal of King John felt very similar to Joaquin Pheonix's Commodus, but for the large part this film stood alone, much lighter and with a different overall tone. For all it's blood and anger, Gladiator is very much a love story, about a man fighting for his family. This however is about a man fighting for the country he loves, and also the film never gets dark or moody in the same way Gladiator did. His merry men, played by Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand and Allan O'Doyle keep many of the scenes light-hearted, but crank on the serious for the action scenes.
The film, as a whole, is a success. The storyline, whereby King John is fooled by a traitor, portrayed as ever by Mark Strong, (on a run of being the bad guy in all blockbusters at the moment) the main antagonist, who barks and grumbles with scene stealing menace as he betrays his country to the French is a strong one. Never too confusing, always believable, albeit at times perhaps a bit slow, the middle part of the film has little action and lots of riding around on horses. This isn't a criticism by any means, I personally found it entertaining throughout, but it certainly to some viewers may seem like slightly slow.
The acting is all very strong, and it's to be expected with the team Ridley Scott has put together. Russell Crowe is at his best since Gladiator. A totally different animal to Maximus, Robin is serious yet fun, determined yet never far from a smile or an anecdote. His accent wavers at times, he represents the whole of England in this department, but Crowe makes the protagonist one to cheer for, and never leaves the audience with a bitter taste about him.
Stars of the show perhaps, who emerge from behind Crowe as unforgettable characters as you leave the big screen are Max Von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley, and Cate Blanchette as Mid Marion. Sir Walter is a brilliant character, a father who has been waiting for his son to return for 10 years, is blind and certainly a character. Von Sydow, known to me for his role as chief villain in Minority Report, is warm and bubbly here, and certainly draws the most heartbreaking scene of the movie, and so to spoil it would be a travesty. Blanchette was much better than I expected, coming across as strong but not a tom-boy, an impression I had got from the trailer. Her storyline is strong, and Blanchette never plays it over the top, its a subtle and well executed performance, and makes for one of the better heroines seen in film over the last few years.
The ending, despite perhaps being alluded too in the trailer, sets up the legend as we know him and is begging for a further installment. And I'd waiver a guess it's coming, and he probably steals some stuff from the rich, and then gives it to the poor. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Final Verdict: 80%
Tummy Tickler: 7/10. More humour than I was expecting. The film often draws a smile, largely thanks to the Merry Men.
The Boom Factor: 10/10. The action is always realistic, always entertaining, and in perfect dosage throughout the film. Top marks then.
Love is in the Air: 6/10. The storyline isn't predominantly about love at all, but the chemistry between Crowe and Blanchette feels believeable whe we reach the obvious outcome.
Spill the Popcorn Terror: 2/10. Often quite violent, though rarely bloody, but never terrifying.
Final Words: Its not brutal, sad or emotional enough to be called Gladiator in the woods, but It's entertaining, intelligent, fun and exciting enough to be called Robin Hood. Which is what it is, so I can sing no higher praise.
The Trailer is here for all those who've been living on the moon for the last year: