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The reviews are in for Robin Hood, director Otto Bathurst’s reimagination of the British classic. According to most critics, the latest film iteration of the storybook tale pales in comparison to its predecessors, including Kevin Costner’s take in Prince of Thieves in 1991 and Ridley Scott’s 2010 Russell Crowe starrer.
Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx and Ben Mendelsohn lead the cast in Bathurst’s version of the classic adventure story. But, as The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy noted, not even its impressive roster of talent could save Robin Hood.
“Well, it’s turned out even worse than anyone could have imagined in this all-time big-screen low for Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck, Guy of Gisbourne and the Sheriff of Nottingham, not to mention for Jamie Foxx as an angry man from the Middle East who’s gotten mixed up on the wrong side of a Crusade, or maybe just in the wrong movie,” McCarthy wrote. “[Producer] Leonardo DiCaprio can rest easy in the knowledge that this fiasco will come and go so quickly that few will remember that it even existed, much less that he produced it. In a just world, everyone involved in this mess would be required to perform some sort of public penance.”
Unlike other Robin Hood films, this first produced exertion at a screenplay by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly takes place in an ambiguous time frame where the characters (including Egerton’s Robin) rock hoodies, leather jackets and more modern digs rather than medieval garb — a creative liberty that didn’t impress many critics.
“This isn’t the first time somebody has tried to probe the dark recesses of this should-be charming action story. The 2010 film with Russell Crowe did it, too, but at least that movie tried to approximate the time period,” the New York Post‘s Johnny Oleksinski wrote. “In director Otto Bathurst’s new Hood, Nottingham looks like a Roman fortress where everybody shops at Zara.”
Newsday‘s Rafer Guzman agreed, writing, “Yes, by God, it’s — corporate retail Robin Hood! Call it ‘Robin Hoodie.'” Guzman then suggested the film’s modern aesthetic eclipsed its “old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure” of a storyline. “Then, all of a sudden, someone shows up in what looks like a Kenneth Cole walking coat. It’s the weirdest dang combination of bows and arrows and Abercrombie & Fitch.”
Questionable fashion choices aside, several writers also harshly criticized Robin Hood‘s narrative. “There’s no flow to the combat, no sense behind the stunts, and no reason to invest in any of the empty noise around them,” wrote IndieWire‘s David Ehrlich. “Robin Hood just strobes between boredom and absurdity so fast that it starts constantly providing both at once.”
Entertainment Weekly‘s Maureen Lee Lenker called Robin Hood a “humorless heist movie with no heart.” She elaborated, “In action sequences, director Otto Bathurst picks up a shooting style perfected by Guy Ritchie: the artfully calibrated mix of slow motion and hyper-speed in a balletic rush of violence. Ritchie has used the technique to comedic and adventurous effect in the Sherlock Holmes films, but at this point, the trick feels stale. Bathurst’s approach is derivative, and lacks the narrative purpose that has made the aesthetic shine in other contexts.”
While the Boston Globe‘s Meredith Goldstein thought Egerton made a handsome Robin Hood, she seemed to say that his character’s potential was undermined by the film’s script. “Egerton makes for an ideal Robin, with his Lego-shaped jaw, and his ability to deliver lines with great sarcasm while looking good in stylish outerwear,” said Goldstein. “The only problem is that there isn’t much for Egerton’s Robin to say. The zingers don’t quite zing.”
Empire magazine’s Dan Jolin unfavorably compared 2018’s Robin Hood to Guy Ritchie’s 2017 drama fantasy, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. “Like Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, this tries hard to do something new and exciting with an old formula,” Jolin wrote. “It quickly makes you wish for something more traditional and straightforward.”
The Wrap‘s Yolanda Machado seems to think that Bathurst was lazy in his approach to retelling the legend. She wrote, “Reboots and remakes are meant to introduce a new audience to a classic tale with fresh ideas and storylines that make the story relevant to modern audiences. Robin Hood doesn’t even try.”
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