Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Kevin Durand, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Milking a dried udder gets you nothing but kicked off the milking stool!
Prince John: Mother, spare me your farmyard memories. You have none, and I don’t understand them.
After King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston) is killed, his younger, more obnoxious, brother John (Isaac) takes over the throne. He is immediately duped by a traitor, and French loyalist, in his court into inciting a civil war that will weaken England and allow the French army to conquer it. Meanwhile, Robin Longstride (Crowe) is returning the sword of Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), who was killed in an ambush, to Loxley’s father, Walter (Sydow). Walter requests that Robin pose as his dead son, which leads to Robin’s involvement in all kinds of action and battles and stuff.
If I were to review this movie based on the reaction to it by the person sitting directly to my left in the theater, I would have to call it the best movie of the year. There was laughter, there were tears, and there were several fist pumps. She loved it. But this is not my friend’s blog, it’s mine, so I have to write about my own reaction to it, which was much more subdued.
Sure, it had a few good triumphant moments, and a laugh here and there, but I think it was just too derivative for me to get too excited about. There’s some Braveheart, some Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, and even some Saving Private Ryan. The romance is predictable, the battles are routine, and I don’t recall anything else that really surprised me.
Lack of originality is more easily forgivable, though, than the fact that Robin Longstride is a dull character. They try to give him a touching past involving his father, but that comes off as derivative as well. Robin really has no personality at all. I’m not sure how much of that is Crowe’s fault and how much is the writer’s fault. It’s probably a combination of both. Crowe seems to be sleepwalking through the role a bit, and doesn’t bring the fire that he did to Gladiator. But then again, he doesn’t have any cool “My name is Maximus” type speeches in this one. Instead, Robin has to yell about unfair taxation, people’s rights, and getting some sort of charter, or something, signed. It just doesn’t quite have the same impact.
The most interesting characters in the movie are Marion Loxley (Blanchett) and King John. Starting as a Prince before having the crown forced upon him by his brother’s death, John goes through the most interesting character arc in the movie, though ultimately they make him too cartoonishly evil in the end.
The battle scenes are Braveheart-light, as there’s only a PG-13 level of blood and dismemberment. I think that adds to the movie’s overall feeling of being just lukewarm. The whole thing just seems toned down and flat.
It’s not a bad movie really, but it’s not a memorable one either. That’s especially true of its lead character, which is a shame because this is a guy that’s supposed to be legendary…and I can barely even remember any of his dialogue.
Maybe you wanna wear some armor around your neck if you think there will be arrows used in the battle you’re entering…
10 – 2 for a boring lead character – 1 for a lot of derivative scenes – 1 for a generally flat/dull tone = 6.0