Had this subpar movie been an arrow shot from the title characterís bow, it would have been so far off course it would have endangered innocent bystanders. Brian Helgelandís (MYSTIC RIVER) screenplay actually treats the mythical 13th century archer and Sherwood Forest dweller as though he actually lived as a soldier during the Crusades before becoming an anti-taxation outlaw and the mind behind the Magna Carta (Huh?). Aside from the notion that the filmmakers presume that their audiences will be composed of British history-challenged morons is the uncharacteristically dull and wooden performance of Russell Crowe (A BEAUTIFUL MIND) whose morose on-screen persona doesnít come off as the sort of charismatic leader who could inspire anyone to follow him. Combine that with the total lack of chemistry between the actor and Cate Blanchettís (THE AVIATOR) Marian (See criticís note.) and youíre left with a romance thatís on a level with slugs mating. Despite the intention to put a new spin on a familiar legend, the storylines and plot are all ripped-off from THE LION IN WINTER (1968), BRAVEHEART (1995) and even SOMMERSBY (1993) where a soldier returning from war poses as a womanís dead husband. (Even that Jodie Foster-Richard Gere movie was an Americanized version of a 1982 French film called THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE.) With the exception of John Mathiesonís diverse cinematography, this movie has few redeeming qualities and is overlong with a need for better editing. The climactic battle on an English beach near the conclusion feels choreographed and is strangely uninvolving as is most of this flick. For all of the talent utilized in this project, including director Ridley Scott (ALIEN), this movie is a dud and certain to be one of the summer seasonís major disappointments. CRITICíS GRADE: C-
CRITICíS NOTE: Interestingly, the female character Marian was never mentioned in any of the original Robin Hood ballads which were first published about 1490. The archerís love interest is something of a cinematic creation with Olivia de Havilland (GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HEIRESS) first portraying Maid Marian in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938). As old as it is, that Errol Flynn (CAPTAIN BLOOD) movie still remains the barometer by which all the other Robin Hood films are measured.