I’m often about 3-4 weeks behind in my viewing of theatrical releases, mostly because I like to wait until the crowds have thinned… giving me a better chance to listen to the movie rather than the guy munching on popcorn and candy behind me, who seems to take pride in telling everyone around him what’s happening as if they can’t — or haven’t already — figured it out for themselves.
Point is, it wasn’t until last night that I finally got around to watching Ridley Scott’s vision of the birth of the Robin Hood legend. If anyone wants to know what a medieval film should look, feel, and sound like, I definitely recommend it. The costumes and sets were as believeable as I’ve ever seen, from the weight of the chainmail, to the dirt under the fingernails, to the scorch marks on the castle walls from the braziers flanking the front gate. The story itself left me feeling emotionally flat, perhaps beacuse I can’t help but compare it to similar “historical” epics like Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and Ridley Scott’s own Gladiator. In those films, I felt a visceral attachment to the lead characters and their goals. When they took up their weapons, I wanted to do so alongside them. Robin Hood felt a bit more aimless. I cheered for him on a mental level, recognizing him as a humble enough man whom anyone would want as their best friend. But I didn’t feel him or his objectives in any way that had me clinging to my seat.
Still, I enjoyed the overall experience. Ridley Scott is obviously a master craftsmen who needs no advice from me on how to tell a story. And, again, I dare you to find me a more fully realized medieval world, where you can practically smell the mud, taste the blood, and feel the blisters on your arrow fingers. Far from the clownish offerings of Robin Hood films of the past, this is one that lets you know what it might have really been like to have lived in the Dark Ages. And boy am I thankful I didn’t.