Review: ‘Robin Hood’ steals from better movies and gives nothing in return

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Review: ‘Robin Hood’ steals from better movies and gives nothing in return

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Larry Horricks

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Larry Horricks

Larry Horricks

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Mohit Puvvala, lifestyle columnist

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“Robin Hood” opens with a narration from Taron Egerton’s titular character, boldly telling the audience to forget what they think they know, for this is not the average Robin Hood story. He also tells us that he won’t bore us with the details of when and where this film takes place. Ironically, the film that follows is a predictable and somehow convoluted Robin Hood story that doesn’t add anything to the story you already know.

It’s not a surprise that yet another Robin Hood remake is a dud, especially after the 2010 film of the same name starring Russell Crowe. However, it’s especially interesting that this movie even managed to finish production. “Robin Hood,” starring Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson, Ben Mendelsohn and Jamie Dornan, is a flop on a multitude of levels from its derivative plot to its hilariously bad decision to take itself seriously.

I’ll start with the positives since there aren’t many, and even they have caveats. Egerton, Foxx and Mendelsohn all look like they’re having some fun with their roles. Egerton, who broke into stardom with the “Kingsman” films, actually trained with famous archer Lars Andersen to fire arrows quickly in succession. It’s clear he genuinely cared about his starring role.

However, director Otto Bathurst decided to use CGI for many of the arrows. The result is action that doesn’t feel real even though it might be. Mendelsohn seems comfortable as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham, but he’s not really given much to do in terms of both character development and screen time. I wanted to see him get a little more in character because it still felt like he was basing some of his lines on his role in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Foxx also seems like he’s enjoying himself to an extent, but his character has little room to showcase charisma. For example, he has one training sequence with Egerton in which he characterizes himself as a badass, but the script never develops his character so he becomes this bland sidepiece.

The supporting cast feels monotonous and often boring to watch. Hewson plays Marian, Robin Hood’s love interest, but they have little chemistry. There’s barely any development in their relationship, and what little story there is feels jarring and out of place.

Dornan feels wasted in the film and is only there to set up a sequel that will almost certainly not happen (it’s now the biggest box office flop of the year). He plays Will Scarlet, Marian’s other love interest (yes, there’s a boring love triangle in this), and he has pretty much nothing to do for the movie besides say “The Hood” is unnecessary (Christian Grey here should tell that to the director).

From a technical standpoint, the film falls flat. It’s visually bland with few shots of vibrancy amidst a mostly dull color scheme. The cinematography is serviceable, but feels rather basic in comparison to some of the more recent action films of the year such as “Mission Impossible: Fallout.”

One of the biggest issues with the film is the costume design. The film has an old 1200s feel and mentions that it’s currently in the Crusades. However, I could have sworn Egerton and Fox were wearing clothes from J.C. Penney at times. The narration at the beginning claimed they weren’t going to bore us with details of the setting, but modern costume design stands out when background characters are wearing old clothes.

Moreover, the film’s fictional setting of Nottingham doesn’t make much sense. There’s one wide shot of the whole town, and it looks pretty small. However, the commoners are shown to live in a massive industrial structure that is seemingly so far away from the sheriff that they can go unnoticed by the police force and bring together hundreds of people to plot against him. That’s not something that can happen in a small town. The film never takes the time to realize its world.

Plot-wise, I noticed that the film somehow managed to rip off both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” This is the Nolan-ization of Robin Hood, which comes eight years after the other dark and gritty Nolan-ization of Robin Hood with Russell Crowe. I’m going to get into spoilers for “Robin Hood,” so feel free to stop here if you’re one of the fifteen total people who still wants to see this film.

Robin of Loxley trains under Jamie Foxx to essentially become a ninja. He fights crime at night and becomes a myth known as The Hood (exactly like The Bat). He returns to his home to find his girlfriend with Jamie Dornan, who is presented as a white knight and the voice of the commoner (just like Harvey Dent). Stuff happens, and Marian figures out that The Hood is her ex-boyfriend. She then explicitly tells him that Robin is the mask and The Hood is who he really is, which is an exact ripoff of what Rachel tells Bruce Wayne in “Batman Begins.” Then, there’s a battle between good guys and bad guys, and Dornan drops a molotov cocktail, accidentally falls, and burns half of his face. The film ends with a now two-faced Dornan as the villain for a sequel. Robin Hood in this movie doesn’t just steal from the rich and give to the poor, but he also steals from better movies and gives nothing in return.

How much of a development nightmare was this movie that Lionsgate deemed it a better idea to release the film than deal with the costs already incurred on the script and pre-production? They had to have realized either after reading the script or at some point during production that this was going to be a flop. For a production budget of $100 million, the movie would need to make roughly $250 million to break even when you factor in marketing costs and theater percentage cuts, and I’m not sure it’s going to hit $100 million worldwide.

This type of studio decision reminds me a lot of the 2016 “Ben-Hur” reboot and last year’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Nobody asked for either, and the numbers showed. Here’s hoping that Lionsgate takes this as a lesson to improve their strategy going forward.