Early ‘Robin Hood’ Reviews and a New Trailer

The mass critical opinion on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood will come in this Wednesday when the film opens the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. However, some early reactions have cropped up and it looks like the word so far is mostly positive. It’s clear from the previews that this was going to be a darker glimpse at the tale of Robin Hood, but it may be more so than I originally thought. Justin Chang from Variety mostly approves of the new perspective, but he thinks audiences won’t:

This physically imposing picture brings abundant political-historical dimensions to its epic canvas, yet often seems devoted to stifling whatever pleasure audiences may have derived from the popular legend.

Todd McCarthy, formerly of Variety who just started his own blog on indieWIRE called Deep Focus, echoes what Chang says about the film’s potential popularity. He believes that the mistake was that instead of rebooting the well-known story of Robin Hood, this version acts as a “prequel” – telling everything up to the point where he faces off with King John, steals from the rich, gives to the poor and all that good stuff:

Still, what we’re left with is a fashionably gritty period drama, conceived by intelligent minds and handsomely decked out, but featuring no beating heart or compelling raison d’etre. The very ending, a sort of cliffhanger followed by the title, “And so the legend begins,” makes you want to see something other than the movie you’ve just seen. The problem is that this “Robin Hood” is unlikely to spawn a sequel, so unless Scott has already filmed a secret follow-up, as Richard Lester did with “The Three Musketeers,” this legend will simply have to be imagined.

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter also is not a fan of the stories perspective, but he says it’s just something you have to deal with and get past. Kirk seemed to enjoy the film and thinks that if you can get past the history, the character driven story makes it really worth it:

Its European history is so ludicrously mangled that one almost suspects Mel Brooks and Monty Python’s Flying Circus lent a hand. But the Robin-Marion romance strongly holds the movie together while Scott’s muscular direction and Marc Streitenfeld’s brilliant score make this one of the fastest 140-minute movies you’ll ever see.

The film that Robin Hood is going to draw the most comparisons too (fittingly) is Gladiator, the other Scott/Crowe period epic from a decade ago. Mike Goodridge of Screen writes that Robin Hood doesn’t have the same youthful exuberance or “stirring emotion” of Gladiator, but Scott and crew are still at top form:

Scott’s film-making fluency is as impressive as ever and the contributions from his usual team – DP John Mathieson, production designer Arthur Max, costume designer Janty Yates, editor Pietro Scalia and composer Marc Streitenfeld – are predictably fine.

Jeffery Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere seems to like it more than any of the other reviewers I’ve seen so far. He says it is exactly what he hoped it would be made by a team that has the necessary experience:

No portions of Scott’s film are acutely painful, and almost all of it is, I feel, good enough and often of a very high order (like the French naval invasion sequence). This is a nice “old pro” movie. You’re always aware that you’re in the hands of someone who knows exactly what he’s doing.

The widespread opinion on this film won’t be made until the weekend. I expect mostly negative reviews to come out of Cannes when Robin Hood screens on Wednesday because the international press is typically pretty harsh on the popcorn movies that usually open the festival. Whether or not it can topple Iron Man 2 at the Box Office is the biggest question regarding this film.

Along with the reviews, a new trailer for Robin Hood was released today. Check it out below:

This is probably the May release that I am most anticipating. How about you?

Robin Hood opens in theatres everywhere this Friday.

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