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Robin Hood: movie review

This retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale is a somber, violence-heavy take that’s slim on poetry or romance.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / May 14, 2010

In this film publicity image, from left, Russell Crowe , Alan Doyle, Scott Grimes and Kevin Durand are shown in a scene from 'Robin Hood.'

David Appleby/Universal Pictures/AP

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Do we really need another Robin Hood in the movies? From the high points of Errol Flynn and Sean Connery to the low point of Kevin Costner – Robin Hood as surfer dude – I think we’ve had quite enough already. But never underestimate Hollywood’s penchant for revisionism – i.e., the recycling of old goods into new money. The revisitionist bug has claimed Superman and Batman, so I guess Robin Hood was inevitable. So let me put this another way: Do we really need a revisionist Robin Hood?

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After seeing Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe, I would unhesitantly answer that question in the negative. I much prefer Mel Brooks’s “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” to all this doomy somberness. Why take the legend so seriously?

It would be different, I suppose, if Scott and his screenwriter Brian Helgeland were trying for some kind of grand-scale epic à la “Lawrence of Arabia.” That wasn’t merely an epic-sized film – it was an epic of ideas. There are no big ideas knocking around in “Robin Hood,” no vision beyond the rudimentary: Life was really really grim way back in AD 1199.

IN PICTURES: Past Robin Hoods

I’ll say this much for Scott. He doesn’t make it look as if the Brits back then, not to mention the invading French, belonged to a dental plan. One of my big complaints about historical movies is that people are always sporting Pepsodent smiles. Not in “Robin Hood.” The not-so Merry Men, in particular, look as if they could use some instruction in flossing.

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