Director: Kevin Reynolds
Cast: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Synopsis: Almost two decades before Rusty pulled on the tights for a more realistic interpretation, Kevin Costner grabbed a bow to become the most legendary of archer’s. The film has perhaps been more recognised as the source material for Mel Brooks’ film Robin Hood: Men In Tights. All together now… “Unlike some Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent!”
A review by Film Nerd.
I re-watched this film over the weekend with Bride of Film Nerd, who had never previously seen it. Being the comedy fan that she is, though, it was amusing to hear her get mixed up between Blinkin and Duncan. So yes, I introduced her to the source material that Mel Brooks so successfully lampooned. I think that satire of the film is now more prominent in public memory than the film itself, and though the satire is fantastic, it is easy to forget how entertaining the original is.
Not to say it is not without flaws. Some of the plotting is ridiculous, and the script is often laughable. But the cast actually kind of seem to know this, and they deliver some more absurd lines with almost a sly nod to the audience that they are having fun with it. Costner is very guilty of this, playing his Robin as a prodigal rebellious son type, almost in the frat boy mould. Yet given that frat boys can be considered very anti-establishment, for Robin Hood, this is quite appropriate. Morgan Freeman is always on form in whatever role, so his Azeem brings some gravitas to proceedings, but is also abl to introduce his own sly humour, being in a perfect position to point out the ridiculous habits in Western attitudes and rituals. For me though, the film does belong to Rickman, so much so that thinking of this villain role alongside Hans Gruber was all I needed to initiate Alan Rickman week. His sheriff of Nottingham is delightfully OTT, making full use of his lanky frame and unique vocal inflections. Many times have I personally quoted his line “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a SPOOOON”.
This film cannot be considered history, it cannot be considered a direct interpretation of myth, it can’t even be considered as authentically English, as the hollywood gleam to it is clear, even forgetting Costner’s accent. But it is good, escapist fun, with enough drama to keep the plot moving, yet with a regular element of tongue in cheek preventing it from ever getting heavy. Sure, it was ripe for satire, but where Mel Brooks is concerned, wasn’t Star Wars also just as ripe??
4 stars (out of a possible 5)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on IMDB
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on Rotten Tomatoes