Men in Tights or Men that Fight?: A Comparison of Robin Hood Films

Last week, a couple of good friends and I went to see the new Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. Now, being the medieval history buff-geek-nerd-dork-aficionada that I am, I was very much looking forward to this film. Although the movie itself received little positive criticism to commend it, I would highly recommend it.

The New York Times calls the movie a “split arrow” with some positive and negative qualities. The review compares the Magna Carta being a “rousing plot point” with Cate Blanchett’s Maid Marion role reversal from a damsel-in-distress to a damsel-that-deals-death. Many others enjoyed the score and battle sequences, reminiscent of Braveheart and The Gladiator.

The 2010 film tells the story leading up to Robin Hood’s transformation into the outlaw he was famous for being. Without giving away too much of the plot, Crowe plays Robin Longstride, an orphaned boy who grew up to become a crusading knight. King Richard the Lionheart and several followers were killed in an excursion to France, including Sir Robert Loxley of Nottinghamshire in England. Upon his deathbed, Longstride promises to return Loxley’s sword to his father in England. Longstride impersonates Loxley and “takes to wife” Loxley’s widow Maid Marian. England is now under control of John, Richard’s incompetent younger brother. And let the action begin!

Now, compare this to Mel Brooks’ adaptation of the Robin Hood story, a very light-hearted rendition. We have men impersonating women, an archery tournament to draw Robin out, John’s usurpation of the throne while Richard is (still very much alive!) in France, dancing men in Lincoln green tunics, and-oh!-chastity belts. Through the entirety of the film, we are made to laugh at various antics and not sit at the edge of our seats waiting for the baddies to come.

Part of the reason that our modern-day Robin Hood has probably received such low ratings is because it was Hollyw00dized as a drama and not a comedy. Furthermore, There are more battle sequences than punchlines and memorable songs. Personally, I thought the movie was fantastic because of the action sequences and score (and we can’t forget Russell Crowe). But, I will leave it up to you to determine whether or not the movie is worth watching.

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