When (if) you think of Robin Hood, you probably recall the devil-may-care outlaw in Lincoln-green tights who fought the forces of medieval oppression with a longbow and a band of merry men. If you're lucky, you've caught Errol Flynn's definitive performance in 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood, or Douglas Fairbanks in the 1922 movie Robin Hood.
Others may remember the 1950s British series starring Richard Greene, the handful of Hammer films on the subject, or the 1973 Disney cartoon that many scholars feel helped kickstart the modern "furry" movement. And by "scholars" I mean "my grad school roommates."
If you're really young and/or ignorant, you may only be able to come up with Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, or the BBC series from a few years ago. My personal favorite (aside from ol' Errol), is "Robin Hood Daffy," but to each their own.
The point is, all of these -- even Costner and his Amazing Disappearing Accent -- understood the roots of Robin's charm. You can fiddle with the admittedly murky legend behind the character, even adding Morgan Freeman as the guy who owes Robin the Saracen equivalent of a Wookiee Life Debt (Azeem? More like Azif!), as long as you get the mischievous underpinnings of the character right.
While we're on the subject, anybody seen the trailer for that upcoming Ridley Scott movie?
Jesus Jones, why all the long faces? Where the hell are the "merrie men?" They kept the bow and arrow, at least, but lost the jaunty feathered cap. And as for witty, good-natured banter with Will Scarlett/Alan-a-dale, I think there's a greater likelihood of snagging a Claude Rains cameo.
Look, we get it: the Middle Ages (some theories of Robin Hood's origin date back to the 1200s) weren't a lot of laughs. I mean, there's a reason Prince didn't sing about partying like it was, say, 1399. But we've had our noses rubbed in plague and filth quite enough, thanks.
If you're that interested in how nasty, brutish, and short life was in the Dark Ages, I'm told there are a few books on the subject, and maybe an A&E documentary or two. Check one out, because while I understand the desire for realism in our epics, actual honest-to-Friar Tuck historians can't even agree on trivial matters such as when Robin Hood operated, who he really was, or if he even existed in the first place.
This is supposed to be entertainment, right? Well, to answer a question put forth by another Russell Crowe character, I am not entertained by this trailer.
There comes a point when you have to sort of throw your hands up and say, "Well, at least the armor looks authentic."
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SHOW ME HOW
You guys realize that among the biggest box office hits of 2009 are a movie about non-bloodsucking, virgin vampires and another about giant, alien robots that turn into GM vehicles, right?
Obviously we're not the most discerning tools in the shed, so Ridley, for the love I bear towards Alien and the original Blade Runner (none of that director's-cut crap), please keep the archery contest in. Failing that, at least have Russell do a few faceplants into a tree. I'd pay to sit through that particular scene several times.