ROBIN HOOD (1991)
This wasn't such a bad movie, and had a decent cast, but went straight to video due to the Costner/Reynolds juggernaut. Never a bad movie from those two, eh? This one is held to be far superior among Robin Hood fans, despite the little nitpick that the director had no idea what he was doing on a technical level. Everything is smoky and poorly lit, and everyone is dirty and probably smelly. And it's almost impossible to tell what anyone's motivation is at any given point.
PLOT: Robert Hode (Seriously) is a ne'er-do-well Saxon nobleman who's sick and tired of getting bullied by England's new Norman rulers. So one day he has an attack of conscience and stops a Norman knight from blinding a poacher. After getting all lippy at his trial, he is made an outlaw, along with his friend Will, who might be a servant, or might just hang around him all the time. The direction is, as I mentioned, inept, and offers no clues. Will and Robin fight a tall guy on a bridge, who introduces them to some more outlaws. Robert Hode comes up with a clever nom de swashbuckle and shows them the right spots to rob. He has a crisis of conscience AGAIN and decides to give to the poor and etcetera. The aforementioned knight's fiancée Marian chops off her hair, fakes he gender and joins them. She is captured, and the usual happens.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: What I really liked about this one was the Norman/Saxon thing. It gives Robin clear, if somewhat Captain von Trapp-esque, reasons for his actions. I mean, King Richard tends to be held as this big super-Englishman in Robin Hood movies, but the guy didn't even speak English. Come on. Anyway, this movie seeks to be realistically medieval, with everything being filthy and lots of hacked off fingers and what have you. This sometimes worked, sometimes not.
(Robin and disguised Marian. Not pictured: Vast pagan overtones.)
ROBIN: First of all, in still photos, Patrick Bergin's 'stache looks ludicrous. But it worked well on screen. This is a fun-loving Robin, with highly original robbing plans, my favorite being when he and the men disguise themselves as monks and intimidate the bishop into announcing that in honor of "Saint Robin's" vow of poverty, they shall be hiding all gold from sight today, and these helpful monks will keep it in the back for you… This is a fun Robin, and aside from his goofy-ass real name, one of the better portrayals.
(Tall? Check! Hairy? Check! Stick? Check! Personality? Ummm... Three out of four ain't bad?)
LITTLE JOHN: Here's my problem with Little John in movies. They always do the fighting on the bridge origin bit. Then, in order to introduce the Merry Men, they make John the leader of a bunch of outlaws. So basically, he kicks Robin's ass, then puts himself and all his followers under Robin's command. WTF? Anyhoo, in this particular movie, the outlaws are radically unorganized, and Robin gets their act together, which fixes that little problem. John himself hasn't got much in the way of personality, and basically shows up to exposit and fight with his prerequisite stick.
(That's Will there. The one with the poofy hair, standing to the side and smirking. Which is what he mostly does. Also, Robin Hood is totally flippin' the single deuce, which I doubt I'll ever see again.)
WILL SCARLET: Man, he was starting to piss me off. Since Little John is dealt with as described above in movies, another character is given the Lancer role, and it's usually Will. Will is in the forest when Robin saves the poacher, he's at Robin's trial, and he's outlawed with Robin. Why? Well, the movie doesn't bother to explain. He may be a friend, a servant, a squire, or just a hanger-on. And he gets all the snaky little one-liners. Oh, and it's 26 minutes into the movie before I heard his name mentioned. And we never find out his real name, as the oh-so-clever Mr. Hode comes up with Scarlet right after creating his own pseudo-name. Will has red hair. You're two for two, Hode.
TUCK: An average portrayal of Tuck. He's fat and sassy, and rides a donkey. He also sells chicken bones and claims them to be saints'. A standard comic relief role for Tuck, with the added bonus of taking center stage in the end scenes where everyone breaks into the castle by dressing like idiots and yelling a lot. They are allowed to do this because it's May Day, and this movie has some weird pagan overtones to it. I'm pretty sure priests aren't inclined to dress up like Bacchus, no matter how fat and sassy they are. (And what's with Tuck always being an eatin', drinkin', cussin' type? Worst priest ever.)
MUCH: Yeah, he's in this one. He's the poacher at the beginning, and meets up with Robin at the outlaws' camp. But he doesn't give away their secret. Buuuuut it's unclear just how long it stays a secret, because it eventually becomes obvious that everyone knows, but the movie don't bother to show us when that happened. Wah wahhhh. Much has about the personality you might expect from someone who's had two fingers chopped off by Normans. He provides the vital "Filling out crowd scenes" role.
(Oh, there they are)
MARIAN: Much closer to the original 1500s version of Marian as a cross-dressing ass-kicker than the Victorian damsel in distress that shows up a lot in movies. The flip side of this is she gets all the worst lines, like she's some kind of Bond Girl. Actual dialogue:
Marian: So what are you going to do to me? Tie me up?
Robin: Could be a lashing.
Marian: How many strokes?
Robin: As many as are necessary.
Marian: And then it's finished?
Robin: That depends. Have you ever been lashed before?
Marian: I've never had someone make me beg them to stop.
Robin: Then you've never had a proper lashing.
Ugh. Anyway, she's played by Uma Thurman, who is gorgeous when photographed well, and a fine actress when directed well. She comes off good about half the time, here. Her virginity is discussed an uncomfortable amount, particularly after Robin shags her in a barn. Prior to this, she ran away and joined the outlaws disguised as a boy, and our friend the director made it look like everyone knew. Seeing as Robin brought her along as guard when he was going to meet 'Marian', I'd guess they didn't. IT'S A TRAP!
SHERIFF: Okay... So there is a Sheriff in this one. He's called Miter, and does most of the Bellowing at Guards. But the real role, filling the purpose of skeevy, greedy tax collector belongs to original character Roger de Guerre, a Norman and former friend of Robin's. He alternates between reluctantly mean and pure evil bastard until he OMG SPOILERZ becomes a good guy at the end. He is played by Jeroen Krabbe, who rarely ungrits his teeth, thus causing some 80% of his lines to be utterly unintelligible.
SIR GUY: Or rather "some guy." Sir Guy de Gisborne is not present in this one. There was no reason in the script to have a vain, vindictive knight with a French name who wants to marry Marian. What? Oh that was the whole plot. Anyway, they made up a new character who filled the exact same role. His name is Miles Folcanet (yes, Ren Faire people, here's where it comes from.) and he's played by Jurgen Prochnow speaking in the silliest French accent since Clousseau.
OTHER MERRY MEN: Well, there's Harry, who spends the whole movie holding up a sign that says "I'm going to sell all these guys out for reward money", but that's okay, because the villains are so EEEEVIL that the reward posters might as well say "We're really just going to torture you, lol". There's also Emily the Porn Maker, who turned out to be Emlyn the Bow Maker Who Has Worse Enunciation Than Baron de Guerre.
OTHER VILAINS: Aside from Miter, whose biggest scene involves him playing Danny Tamberelli to Robin's Summer Sanders and performing the secret slime action in a Medieval Gak factory, there's not much. (If that's the most labored analogy I make in this little project, you're lucky.) Oh, there's also Slutbag, the Baron's girlfriend, who rubs his flabby, hairy stomach in one of the most revolting movie scenes I've ever seen. And Prince John makes a brief appearance, wherein he chews so much scenery… that he comes off a bit silly. Sorry. I tried to come up with something clever, but couldn't.
COMING UP NEXT: Kevin Costner! Christian Slater! Mike McShane! And one accent to split among them!