Robin Hood is to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this week but we’ve seen it and here’s our review. In the movie, we see Ridley Scott re-team with Russell Crowe in their fifth collaboration together. Many have wondered if Crowe can pull off the task of making a convincing Robin Hood.  Read on to find out what I thought! The cast  includes Cate Blanchett, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Durand, Mark Addy, William Hurt, Danny Huston and Max von Sydow.

This version of Robin Hood looks closely at how Robyn of Loxley becomes the man that we’ve come to know, and how he became one who steals from the rich to give to the poor. We get to see Robin (or Robyn if we believe the fables) fighting to get home after the crusades and how he comes to meet Will Scarlett (Scott Grimes who serves as the comic relief), Little John (Kevin Durand) and Friar Tuck (Mark Addy). Here’s a section of the official synopsis that can explain the wider storyline better than I.

Robin Hood chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion (Oscar® winner Cate Blanchett), a woman sceptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff.

It’s hard to get away from watching this movie without thinking about Gladiator – how it was shot, the characters involved and how the same team are back again for this movie. Not only was it the same production team behind the movie, it also opens using the same piece of forest that we see in the brilliant opening sequence of Gladiator – just 10 miles from my house! There is a distinctly different look in Robin Hood, and an attack on the castle (which they built when I visited) opens the movie with a bang. Danny Huston plays the part of King Richard, a man ‘bankrupt in both wealth and victory’ as the opening titles tell us.

Mark Strong is the English traitor who strikes a deal with the French King to start an uprising in England – an uprising that would see England become a sitting duck and open for attack. After getting wind of this, William Marshal played by William Hurt alerts the king that he must reunite the country to fend off the French before it’s too late.

Ok, so here’s what you all want to know….. Was the film any good? Well, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that in my opinion, yes it was! The action sequences were excellent as was the fight choreography and especially the horse riding. We’ve seen previous photos from the Pembrokeshire coastline where the finale to the movie occurs, and the spectacle displayed is just wonderful. In fact this movie does a great deal to keep the British Tourist Board happy. The helicopter shots through the lush green hills, the wonderful English forests were all great to see in this big-budget American movie. A shout out has to go to Pinewood Studios who also hosted some of the beach landing shots on their giant water stage. Despite the hundreds of horses, extras and masses of crew on set the end result was awesome and is a scene I’d love to watch over again. It was so good I think a little more should have been made over it!

As an aside, the Robin Hood set was the first that I visited (although off my own back) and all the design (headed by Sonja Klaus) was brilliant – but now that I’ve seen the movie I realised how massively underused it was. Maybe I was trying to spot places I’d been but it was a shame the huge village was seen more during the scene in which it’s burnt down than when it was standing tall! I can’t really say this ruined my experience, just something I noticed and was shocked by since it must have taken months to put together. That said, it was refreshing to see a big budget Hollywood movie that wasn’t obsessed with using CGI. Don’t get me wrong, there is CG used in Robin Hood but most of the external structures you see in the movie were built from scratch and this is a massive plus point for me.

Geography always seems to play a part in these Robin Hood films. It was the same in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. How is it that they can travel from Nottingham to the South Coast of England without getting a sweat on? On a horse it would take 2 or 3 days to travel that distance but I guess it’s Hollywood magic.

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett’s on-screen chemistry came across well, but as I said earlier I felt continually reminded of watching Gladiator. Universal are obviously hoping for a sequel as before the credits roll, the text “And so the legend begins” appears on the screen. Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham is massively underused but if there’s a sequel, not doubt he’ll have a bigger part to play.  Mark Strong plays as awesome baddie. We know that from Kick-Ass and he does just as well in this. In fact from now on, all badies should be played by Strong!

Here’s some questions I’ve asked myself:

  1. Will there be a sequel? Probably.
  2. Will I watch it? Absolutely. But I really hope that Crowe sorts his accent out for the next one! Was he from the north, the south, East London or a different country?! I never managed to work it out!
  3. Was it better than Robin Hood Prince of Thieves – ummmm….. I’d say it’s a different movie and you can’t compare the two.
  4. Was it better than Robin Hood Men in Tights? I’ve never seen it so no comment!
  5. Was it better than the Disney animated version of Robin Hood – Of course not!

If you decided to go and see Robin Hood which is out tomorrow, 12th May, I think you’ll enjoy the experience but make sure you come back here and let us know what you thought in the comments below.