Look, nobody watched the Robin Hood trailer and thought hot damn! This is gonna be the next The Lord of the Rings! Nobody. Not even my grandmother who only ever watches those shitty 1000-episode Tamil serials that only old people watch. But I also don’t think a lot of people expected it to be as bad as it turned out to be, especially given the talent involved in front and behind the camera. This movie stars Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) and Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) and is directed by Otto Bathurst (the dude who helmed an episode of Black Mirror and a few episodes of Peaky Blinders). But man, this is BAD. So bad, I almost spat in the drink of the person sitting next to me. I watched this movie for free at a special screening and still felt cheated.
But let’s get one thing out of the way. It’s not a bad movie because it’s vastly different from its source material. It doesn’t matter to me that Robin Hood isn’t even referred to as Robin Hood — people call him ‘The Hood’, maybe because the writers thought Robin Hood isn’t gangsta enough. And it certainly doesn’t bother me that Little John is now one-armed ripped black Muslim John, who watched his son get murdered by vile English men. I have no personal attachment to the Robin Hood mythology like I do Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, so completely reshaping it doesn’t bother me.
What bothers me is how lame and muddy the screenplay is. Robin Hood as written by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly is a mixture dollar store version of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and sewage water.
- Rich guy, Robin of Loxley comes back from the dead and becomes a masked vigilante.
- He finds his girlfriend dating someone else.
- Robin Hood’s lady’s new boyfriend starts off as a man of the people, only to turn into a villain WITH A HALF-BURNT FACE. (They’re not even trying to hide this one).
- Robin Hood is told to mingle with obnoxious rich people much to his displeasure.
- There’s even a line that goes something like, “The Hood isn’t your mask. Robin of Loxley is.”
But unlike Nolan’s masked vigilante movies, Robin Hood (2018) is dumber than a TV remote that’s missing half of its buttons. Think about the epicness of the scene where Rachel figures out who The Batman is on the rooftop towards the end of Batman Begins and compare it to the way Marian loudly says “Robin” and pulls his mask off mid-battle, in front of at least a hundred people and then has a quick exchange with him about how it’s a stupid disguise. No, Marion, the disguise isn’t stupid. You’re stupid for ripping it off in front of everybody. But of course, none of the characters actually notice his mask getting pulled down in front of their faces because that’s just the kind of idiocracy you’ll be dealing with for two hours if you purchase a ticket to this abomination. You would think that this is a superhero/fantasy movie satire except it’s so self-serious and not funny.
Robin Hood (2018) has no character journey and the pacing is all over the place. Robin meets Marion in the opening scene and one quick montage later, they’re in love and then Robin is summoned by the government to serve in the military and then there’s a war scene and then his superiors try to kill not-little John’s son in cold blood and he tries to save him and then he’s back in England and then there’s another montage and he morphs from ‘kinda good archer’ to ‘more badass than Legolas on steroids’ in two minutes and then and then and then. The end.
There are no periods and no commas. Things keep happening in a flash. Scenes keep fading in and out. There’s no room for characters to breathe. No time for us to get to know the personalities that fill the frame and understand their relationships. Which would have been fine, if this was a balls to the wall action movie, but it isn’t that either. Otto Bathurst squeezes in world-building, political messages, and even themes surrounding Black Lives Matter, religious extremism and implied paedophilia in a movie that’s shorter than a mouse’s penis (it runs at 1 hour and 56 minutes). By the end of it, nothing sticks with you because everything is a rush and a mess. Emotional beats? Error 404. And while most of the performances are generally nothing to talk about, Ben Mendelsohn seems to be chewing his words as if constipated. HE…. LITERALLY…. TALKSSS… LIKE… THISSSSS… THROUGHOUT.
But you know what. Despite its atrociously written screenplay, this movie still could’ve been a mildly enjoyable outing had the action sequences been heart pounding and blood pumping. But by the 20-minute mark, the only thing that’ll be pounding is your temple warning you about a migraine that’s about to come. The shaky cam in this movie will make the Resident Evil movies look like slick Gareth Evans masterpieces. It’s some of the most horribly shot, incomprehensible action scenes I’ve seen all year. It’s as if Bathurst and cinematographer George Steel shot all the big set pieces while riding a rollercoaster. At times it feels as if Bathurst is trying to craft stylistic action beats ala Zack Snyder, but while Snyder movies are visual feasts, Robin Hood (2018) is a visual yeast infection.
Fantasy movies are really killing me this year. Oh well, bring on Mortal Engines I guess.
Robin Hood (2018)
Despite its atrociously written screenplay, this movie still could’ve been a mildly enjoyable outing had the action sequences been heart pounding and blood pumping. But by the 20-minute mark, the only thing that’ll be pounding is your temple warning you about a migraine that's about to come.