Review by Bradley Smith
Forget all that you know about Robin Hood. At least, that is what the narrator says at the start of the film; which was good because my knowledge of Robin Hood is rather limited to a film that includes a musical number declaring the group’s love of tights, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featuring Q, and a recent episode of Doctor Who that involved robots. Setting science fiction and comedy aside, this was the best version of Robin Hood I have seen.
In the film’s opening, a young Robin meets Marian and the pair develop a relationship that appears to be on the fast track to Happily Ever After. But then, from out of the shadows comes a draft letter to go fight in the Crusades. He departs and returns after four years fighting what he later discovers is an unjust war; but really are any of them justified? Soon after his return, he learns he was declared dead after two years by Sorrento… err… the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn; Ready Player One). So he starts training with Jaime Foxx’s (Little) John, whom he… met… during the Crusades (a joke could be made about how Jaime won’t be able to play Ray again within a few seconds of screen time… spoilers), so that they can help the struggling town that has been taxed into the ground for the war.
The plot develops from there in new and interesting ways; at least I to assume it’s new for reasons stated back in the opening paragraph. As the story progresses, we meet other characters both new and familiar (if you have not actually forgotten all you know), mostly familiar though their traits and fates may be new.
Any attempted humor aside, I enjoyed this version very much. The plot is plausible and relatable; they show that people use religion, politics, and fear to control other people. The actors and characters are believable, entertaining, and fairly well developed for what is basically an origin story. And that is something to note, even with a self-contained story this movie is tantamount to an origin story of Robin Hood and his gang of outlaws; the door is ajar with plenty of room for a sequel or two. If you aren’t up for a video game character breaking the internet, this might be the family friendly movie for you.