Robin Hood is a folk tale older than the hills, which seems to be making a cinematic revival in a big way. With 43 TV shows and movies in the works at current, Otto Bathurst’s prequel falls short. Interestingly, it’s produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, in what seems to be a surprising new genre for him. Whether it pays off, however, is dubious.
The film follows the early life of Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton), a wealthy Lord who falls for Marian (Eve Hewson) whilst she tries to steal his horse. Living in luxury, Robin is drafted to fight for his country and when he returns, he finds both his manor and love taken from him, by the hand of the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn). Under the eye of Little John (Jamie Foxx) he is trained in archery and theft and what starts as a personal vendetta, Robin dons his infamous hood to seek vengeance, and eventually, to be the voice of the poor.
The premise of Bathurst’s take is relatively refreshing, giving backstory to Robin’s motives. Many of the previous incarnations present a more mature and weather-beaten Hood, whilst Egerton provides a much-needed backstory to Robin. Egerton gives a decent performance, but one that is strikingly similar to the style of his in Kingsmen (2014). Jamie Foxx as Little John is questionable. The duo seems to have trouble clicking on screen and Little John as a character is bogged down in so much negativity that Foxx’s quips seem lost.
Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) is totally lost in what is an unnecessary amount of exposition. Delivering his performance with the cheekiness of a teen, without the character becoming a caricature like some are, it’s his performance that seems most memorable.
Unsurprisingly, the movie uses a heavy amount of CGI and this takes away from the atmosphere. With the final 30-40 minutes of the movie being almost entirely CGI, it’s a shame that the quality of it wasn’t higher. It’s obvious to the audience which aspects were generated, which really makes for a disappointing climax. With so much of the silver screen being computer generated these days, whether that be a spaceship or a soundstage, it falls short of the quality we as an audience are used to seeing. With a budget of a modest $100 million, it’s right to question where the budget went, seeing as much of its surrounding cast are still relatively unknown.
Whilst the premise of the movie is promising and refreshing, its delivery falls flat. It’s set itself up nicely for a sequel, which can only be presumed to be just as average. The modernity is reminiscent of Bathurst’s other most famous project, Peaky Blinders, but this just makes it all seem repetitive and removes what freshness it has. We’ll need to wait for the other 42 projects to see where it stands.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons