All the Robin Hood reviews have started flooding in since the film’s debut at Cannes last week, and all of them are surprisingly critical and unwelcoming, which may come as a shock to Crowe as he attempts to re-establish himself as an icon of action cinema.
Robin Hood, as it stands in this iteration, is an odd mix of Gladiator, Braveheart and Troy. The Hood legend has worked in around the edges to bring about an air, a faint whiff, of what should have been, before confounding audiences and critics alike with a mix of botched Nottingham accents, a stumbling plot and an interpretation that could best be described as “vague.” Recently confronted about his accent by Mark Lawson for BBC’s Radio 4, he stormed out of the interview after launching into a tirade that never seemed to settle. The provocative statement? Whether or not he was going for an Irish accent. I’m sure none of you are strangers to poor accents – Gerard Butler’s American-Spartan accent in 300 seems to flash in and out of existence more rapidly than a strobe light at a year six disco. But to react like this to a perfectly valid question is indicative of insecurity.
What a lot of media outlets, including The Guardian, have stated is the main issue with the plot’s failure is the hype the Scott crowd placed upon their reworking of the tale. The film was originally intended to focus on the Sheriff of Nottingham and his misrepresentation as a corrupt, violent man (or a scoundrel, if you’re a Disney fan). He was simply a man doing his job, said the film press as Robin Hood accelerated towards its Cannes screening. Sadly, when it actually hit the projector, the Sheriff was reduced to a little screen time in favour of Crowe’s Robin Hood charging around a battlefield, endlessly swinging his sword and shouting tired clichés at the foes he faced.
It’s an odd reception for such a potentially high-grossing film, and it indicates the clear disparity between critics and the audience. Transformers was a butchery of the source material, and focused more on the American Pie-esque frolicking of a boy and his bimbo. Yet, audiences around the world loved it as critics panned it for the reasons indicated. Robin Hood seems set to go the same way. In fact, my bus journey home on Friday involved two men standing around ranting about how bad it was at high volume for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. Yet, they still charged in with popcorn in hand. Reason? “My name is Gladius Maximus…”