An unwavering melding of substance and style, Robin Hood is colorless through and
through. Ridley Scott’s retelling of the famed archer’s legend is (groan) an
origin story that, on the basis of its conclusion, seems designed to kick-start
a franchise, a repellent possibility in light of this saga’s wretched dullness.
Shot in flat grays and browns and perpetually encased in shadows, Scott’s film may
be his most visually unattractive yet, although if his drab aesthetic drains all
life from the frame, it’s nonetheless in keeping with his enervating narrative.
With only a day’s worth of rewrites, all traces of Robin Hood could have been
erased from this story. Still, even as is, the director’s latest is little more
than a generic medieval actioner, one that not only seems to utilize the costumes
and sets of his Kingdom of Heaven,
but also employs that predecessor’s helter-skelter combat photography to
muddled effect. That said, no cinematographic panache could salvage Brian
Helgeland’s graceless script, which charts Robin (Russell Crowe) as he abandons
the army of King Richard The Lionhearted (Danny Huston) over the monarch’s
cruel Crusades treatment of Arabs (skimpy contemporary political subtext!), and
then travels to Nottingham to return the sword of a fallen comrade whom he
chooses to impersonate, a ruse that leads him to the home, and soon the heart,
of icy proto-feminist Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett).