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Just Hood Letters

This weekend offers legends of various varieties.  From medieval folklore to modern romance, these films are wrapped in the luster of myth.  Let me pull back the curtain and give you a peek at this week’s tall tales: A modern girl responds to a letter meant for Juliet (of the Romeo variety), a professional athlete falls for his physical trainer, and Britain’s most famous archer gets another American reboot in Robin Hood (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“As a panel in the output of versatile helmer Scott, this prequel is detail-oriented and well-acted but too serious, grim and verbose, posited between Kingdom of Heaven (a flop) and Gladiator, which while not great, was easier and more pleasurable to watch.” Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com

A famous hero, known for wearing tights, has become too serious?  I guess there won’t be merry men till the sequel.

“Scott has an eye — and it’s a very good one — for sieges of castles, charging horsemen, hand-to-hand combat, glistening swords arcing through the air and deadly arrows whistling toward helpless targets.” The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt


All the violence and war is beautiful, but that’s small comfort if you don’t like those things.  Pacificists, take note: This movie has Robin Hood stabbing the rich in the name of the poor.  Things worked out better for the meek with the original approach.

“Grown-up but not too serious; action-packed but not juvenile… Not only is this the mullet-free Robin Hood movie we’ve been waiting decades for, it’s also Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe at their most entertaining since Gladiator.” Empire Dan Jolin

If you remember when the mullet was popular, then you're old enough to know better.

“Robin Hood isn’t a bad movie. But it is a frustrating, deeply flawed and wholly unnecessary one.” Jim Vejvoda IGN Movies

Fair enough, but how many movies fall into the ‘necessary’ category?  After two years of doing these roundups, I think that argument could be made against almost every blockbuster (from Twilight to Avatar).  So, my question is, was that comment necessary?

“The entire cast is superb. Crowe’s an ideal Robin Hood-born to play the role-he’s fully in command but human to the core. He owns it.” Boxoffice Magazine Pete Hammond


He owns Robin Hood?  Pump the brakes on that praise.  Think of all the other versions and actors that have been part of the myth.  If you time travel back to the silent picture days you can see Douglas Fairbanks buckle some swash in Robin Hood (1922 – Rotten Tomatoes).
“Still impressive sets and stunts have kept this from getting stale.” Dan Lybarger Nitrate Online

For an 88-year-old movie, ‘not being stale’ is a hell of a compliment.

“One of the great silent adventure films…and one of Doug’s best.” Steve Crum Kansas City Kansan

“Fairbanks is the most exuberantly athletic of Robin Hoods, for sheer physicality perhaps outdoing even Errol Flynn’s definitive performance. Fairbanks’s third swashbuckler… in some ways the ideal Fairbanks vehicle.” Steven D. Greydanus Decent Films Guide

It’s impressive to see the older version maintain dominance in athleticism and physicality.  At least modern movies can claim more impressive technology and higher ticket prices.  After all, sixteen years later Errol Flynn took up the bow accompanied by both sound and color in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 – Rotten Tomatoes)
“If prankish Fairbanks was a man’s Robin Hood, handsome, romantic Flynn performs for everybody else.” TIME Magazine

Fairbanks is for men.  Flynn is for everyone else…so women?

“The archetypal Hollywood swashbuckler… everything big-screen derring-do should be: rousing, lighthearted, witty, romantic, colorful, moralistic, and richly satisfying… [Flynn is] the quintessential Robin Hood, jaunty, dashing, and fearless.” Steven D. Greydanus Decent Films Guide

Being the prototypical archetype of an iconic legend means:

“Movies like this are beyond criticism.” Don Druker Chicago Reader


Luckily, Disney movies aren’t because the next incarnation is furry and animated: Robin Hood (1973 – Rotten Tomatoes).

“Compared with modern Disney films, which are dominated by the self-absorption and eventual self-discovery of their main characters, Robin Hood offers surprisingly stark and interesting social questions.” Michael Booth Denver Post

True or False: If Robin Hood were real, he would steal from Disney.

“Blatantly caters to a juvenile audience, without making even the slightest attempt to entertain the grown-ups unless it happens that they like Saturday morning cartoon-level hijinks.” Tim Brayton Antagony & Ecstasy

They know just how to get me.

“Foxes with bows and arrows. What could be better than that?” Ian Nathan Empire Magazine


How about the Hood in a mullet?  Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991 – Rotten Tomatoes).

“Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood is a Robin of wood.” Variety

If you add ‘the’ after ‘of’ it becomes a statement instead of an insult.


“Laughably bad. No threat to Errol Flynn.” Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Fair enough, but Prince Of Thieves (POT?) is in the running for best sidekick and villain.

“If not for Rickman and Freeman, this would be nigh unwatchable.” Widgett Walls Needcoffee.com

Don’t forget Christian Slater (he was both sidekick and villain)!

Don't forget the other media incarnations.

Although, some versions were more embarrassing than others.

“…the film is so broadly characterized by melodramatics and overacting, it made ripe pickings for Mel Brooks two years later with his parody.” John J. Puccio DVDTown.com

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but it’s also an easy way to cash in on a popular idea.  Consider the Scream (the original horror farce) and Scary Movie franchises (the farces of farce) – which set of cash cow utters dried up first?  And while you’re thinking about that, think about manly men roaming around the forest looking for fights: Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1994 – Rotten Tomatoes).

“Grade B Mel Brooks has some zany moments.” Steve Crum Video-Reviewmaster.com

Grade B huh?  Is that based on a sliding scale, where Mel’s best is an A, or personal preference, where Steve Crum’s favorite movie is an A?  I want clarification because the next two reviews clash like headbutting mountain goats:

“This is one of the best musicals of the 1990s and one of Brooks’ very best.” Eric Lurio Greenwich Village Gazette

“Quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen (and yes, I’ve seen “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”).” David N. Butterworth rec.arts.movies.reviews

Ah, but have you seen the foolish and inferior sequel Tomb Raider 2 – The Cradle of Life?  I ask because it’s so terrible, it makes Men In Tights, look like Tomb Raider 1.

“It is true, the legend had it coming, but this bad?” James Brundage Filmcritic.com

And that sour note concludes the roundup of Robin Hood’s film exploits.  It took 16 years for the last film incarnation to become stale in the minds of producers, which was the same length of time it took for Freddy Kreuger to get a reboot.  And our next film is no stranger to borrowing old ideas as The Bard’s tale of star-crossed lovers sets the stage for a modern romance in Letters to Juliet (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).


“What light through yonder window breaks? ‘Tis the fiery wrath of William Shakespeare, dragged back to this mortal coil to lend his cred to a dreadful chick flick.” Joe Williams St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till someone makes another bland cash-in on Shakespeare’s famous romantic tragedy.

“Gary Winick’s flat direction does the material no favors: If Egan and Seyfried have any chemistry, it’s framed out of their awkwardly staged climactic kisses.” Karina Longworth Village Voice

Awkwardly staged kiss

“By the time we have adjusted to all that European summer sunlight streaming through Seyfried’s silky hair, the film is already well on the road to Fluffsville.” Leigh Paatsch Courier Mail (Australia)

Fluffsville sounds like a fictional town in a porn movie.


“The double romantic payoff is beautifully directed and performed; it’s not just what but how it’s done in this satisfying escapist romance aimed at women, young or old.” Andrew L. Urban Urban Cinefile

And now there’s a double payoff?  Yeah, once you put the dirty glasses, everything looks naughty.  Speaking of which, hit the hardwood and give a full court press, but be sure to do it Just Wright (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Unfortunately, in Queen Latifah’s first straight romance, the feisty side of her personality has been benched.” Annlee Ellingson Moving Pictures Magazine

Maybe the feisty attitude was the sixth man waiting to be put into the game at a crucial moment, but the coach didn’t bother.


“With his forced smile and willowy cadence, Common plays basketball star Scott McKnight as if he’s a newly lobotomized serial killer – and that’s when his character is supposed to be happy.” Justin Strout Orlando Weekly

Forget the coach, go get a bodyguard.

“Painting by numbers often gets a bad rap: While it takes little originality to fill in the romantic-comedy blanks, even a simple, competent job can sometimes feel like a breath of fresh air.” Andrew Barker Variety

If people used movie reviews the way lawyers use the law, then this review sets a precedent for formula being original.


“One of those sappy comedies that presses so hard on your brain’s pleasure centers that eventually it succeeds.” Katey Rich CinemaBlend.com

King Sheep wishes he had that power.

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3 Responses

  1. Fluffsville, USA, my kind of town. Town motto: “Fluffsville: We’ll keep you up all night.”

  2. So is Russell Crowe a threat to Errol Flynn? Or vice versa?

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