BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST (2009)
(Sequel to the lesser known "Bed Sherwood Forest" and "Bath Sherwood Forest")
PLOT - Now, pay attention. We begin in a flashback, where spunky tween Robert Something is practicing archery and waiting for his dad, the Vice-Sheriff of Nottingham, to show up and teach him how to shave and play catch with him and tell him about girls. But the Sheriff and his two deputies are busy chasing… a dragon. Yes, it’s one of those. The Sheriff is killed by the beast, making Robin’s dad sheriff. Hooray! In order to gain control of the beast, who turns into a human-looking girl when wounded, the other deputy stabs Robert‘s dad. Booooo! So Robert runs and we flash forward an undetermined number of years where Robert has become Robin and sleeps under what really just looks like a pile of garbage, which is especially odd, since it’s established later that he has an official outlaw base camp. Anyway, the sheriff has finally decided, after (bumbletybum) years, to use the dragon to terrorize the peasantry. So Robin must find a way to kill that which does not die, all the while battling guards, wolves, and a really tedious subplot about Marian. He finally learns (I bet you thought I already got to the weird part) that the dragon, who is named Alina, is actually a fairy from another world, the portal to which lies in Sherwood. Apparently, it just sits there all the time, and no one’s ever noticed. So Robin, Little John, and Will Scarlet go into the fairy world where Robin must climb a mountain to retrieve the magic plant that will cure Alina’s dragonitis, and make her mortal. But the Sheriff… ugh… has cut her heart out of her body, and giving her the plant will kill her, even though she’s not a bad person. And she can't return to her people, because she's been exiled for running away, which seems a silly reason to exile someone. But that’s all resolved somehow, and Marian doesn’t have to get married after all. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, she… you know what? Who cares. Oh, and Friar Tuck dies.
(Ah, the shot that's in every Robin Hood movie.)
THE GOOD - Um… Ah… Let’s see… Well, most of the performances were, if not actually good, sort of winningly enthusiastic. Costumes are okay, if a bit busy. Sets are okay, if a bit small. Photography’s not bad. Basically, it’s a good looking movie. Nothing groundbreaking, but attractive. Which doesn’t make up for…
(Proof that someone directed this.)
THE BAD - The script. Oh, holy crap, the script. The plot is complete nonsense, as if someone had written a standard Robin Hood movie and decided to tack a dragon onto it at the last second. The internal logic is all over the place. Alina turns into a dragon in the sun, except in the first scene, where she turns back into a person for no reason. Alina loses control when she’s a dragon and turns beastly, except the dragon is clearly shown to be intelligent and rational and defy the Sheriff. And I don’t want you thinking the Robin Hood story outside of the dragon stuff is any good, because it’s not. Plot holes abound, and the actual dialogue is constantly cringeworthy. “Worst Line” had some serious contention this time around. I’m trying not to make this a nitpicky post full of specific instances, but there’s really just so much insane in this.
("So... How are you?")
THE OTHERWISE WORTHY OF MENTION - I’m not going to get into the effects. They’re quite good for a SyFy movie, but that’s still pretty bad, so… yeah. I mean, look at that picture. It actually looks good in still shots. That's not nothing.
(Robin Hood, played by Robin Dunn. Like Robin is that common of a name.)
ROBIN - Robin in this version is a fascinating and varied character, or so I am informed. Shortly after Marian joins them, she points out that all the other Merries take joy in helping others, but Robin is so serious about it, more like it’s a job, nay, a DUTY. Well, I’m glad Marian was around to let us know that, because I never would have guessed from, you know, watching the movie or anything. Basically, this guy’s just a retread of the hot young Robin Hood the BBC has given us, only with an even worse haircut and no personality. And a hilariously fake accent. When he gets excited, it either just plain disappears, or turns Scottish.
("No, John. I'm not taller, I'm just in the foreground.")
LITTLE JOHN - And speaking of no personality, here’s Little John! I’m just foolin’. He’s got a personality. Sure, it’s nothing to write home about, just being a boisterous bruiser type, but it’s something. The most interesting part of this Little John is his voice. His accent is pretty inconsistent, but by the time he showed up, I was already used to that. What’s weird is that when he’s speaking calmly, he sounds almost exactly like James Earl Jones. It’s uncanny.
(Judging by the shirt, I'd say he's a brawny man.)
WILL SCARLET - Will (who looks like a cross between the BBC Will and this guy,) isn’t with the Merries at the beginning, taking on the role of “Townsperson Who Is Angry At Robin For Their Woes”, but once the dragon shows, he swiftly segues into “Guy Who Inevitably Joins The Band To No One’s Surprise Since We Noticed His Name”. He’s the town butcher, and fights at first by dual-wielding cleavers, which is neat. Hey, remember in Avatar when you had Zuko, who uses two broadswords, and Jet, who uses two hookswords, and when Jet challenged Zuko, you knew they were going to have an awesome dual-weilding battle, and Zuko couldn’t use his Firebending, since he was in hiding? That was so cool. Sometimes I like to remind myself that there’s better things on TV.
(What an outlaw! Stole the fingers right off his gloves.)
TUCK - DEAD, BABY. At first, he shows up, all scruffy and peacemakery, and lets everyone stay at his abbey and dispenses sage advice to everyone. He seems all sensible, until he gets the bejeepers clawed out of him by the dragon. Then, on his deathbed, he tells them what they need to do to kill her. Oh, wait, no he doesn’t. He gives them some cryptic riddle bullshit. Sure, they work it out, and WAY too easily, mind, but it still doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t just tell them, and that he’d hold off on this vital info until he was dying. It’s just stupid. Hey, remember when Zuko fought Jet?
(It was so cool.)
MUCH -Not much by way of Much here, just some tagalong kid called Gareth. He never talks, because the Sheriff cut his tongue out. Yes, we really need that kind of gritty drama in a movie where Robin Hood uses fairy dust to fight a dragon. He helps them in the usual urchiny ways, and is generally forgotten about for most of the movie.
(I like her little embroidered dragon. It's like some kind of medieval Lacoste.)
MARIAN - I feel like I should have more to say about her. Not just because she’s Marian, lord knows we’ve had plenty of boring Marians, it’s just that she’s on Smallville, and my powerful nerd hindbrain is telling me that I need to discuss it at length. But I’ve seen exactly one episode of Smalville since she joined the cast, and all this girl did was stay out of the way while the more interesting characters engaged in the main plot. Which is actually about what Marian does here. Hey, I did it! Also, she’s first seen, apart from the introductory flashback, doing some quarterstaff training. Guess how that gets used later? If you guessed “One fight with Robin, followed by a lot of getting captured and rescued by men,” you are sadly correct.
(And with that tiny cut, he looks worse than the Phantom in the 2004 movie.)
SHERIFF - I think I’ve already told you everything interesting about the guy. This isn’t to say he’s boring, he’s probably the funnest character in the movie. (Yeah, I said funnest.) This is because he’s played by B-movie superstar Julian Sands, who gives it the exact sort of hammy performance it deserves. My favorite Julian Sands movie is The Phantom of the Opera, where he plays the Phantom, who is not deformed, wears no mask, and has sex with rats. He gets into a variety of pervy situations with Christine, who is played by the director’s daughter. Then he is killed by a midget on a rocket powered skateboard. And that’s just the bare bones, the movie’s a lot weirder than that. My second favorite Julian Sands movie is Boxing Helena. I’m not even going to try to describe that one, just go read the Wikipedia article or something.
(Sometimes the gay jokes are too easy to make. Just pretend this is a Road warrior joke or something.)
SIR GUY - Oh, there’s a Sir Guy all right. And no one was more surprised to learn this than me. See, the first time around, I heard a reference to Malcolm being desperate to catch Robin, and context made it seem they were talking about the Captain of the Guards. Okay, so that’s Malcolm. And now everyone is talking about how Robin has a vendetta and a personal history with him and they’re the mortalest of mortal foes. And I’m all like “But why? There’s no reason for that.” Boy, I tells ya, if that guy was actually named Malcolm, this entry would be so funny. But it turns out Malcolm is the Sheriff, as I found out reading the IMDb cast list, which also let me know that this guy is a Sir Guy. And as I watched the second time, it was all insanely obvious, and they call him Sir Guy all the time, and I must have reeeeeeally not been paying attention the first time. He’s okay in a generic, scowly sort of way.
(Oh, and he's pimply and scabby, just like a real medieval king. Kudos, movie.)
THE MAN - Prince John is in this, but he really doesn’t need to be. He’s in three scenes, but never does anything but raise taxes and be generally menacing until the very end. Sure, he’s trying to marry off Marian, but that’s nothing a messenger or the Sheriff couldn’t have handled. If you’re going to have royalty in a scene, there has to be something special about it, and nobody even seems really impressed with the guy. He is slightly redeemed in the final scene, where he hands out the customary rewards, rather than Richard doing it as per usual. Granted these rewards are more along the lines of “I’m not selling you to an Austrian,” and “I’m not killing you right now,” but he’s trying.
(Because even when John and Robin start as partners, somebody's fighting on a damn bridge.)
OTHER MERRY MEN - None. The movie takes a very small-scale approach to the Merries, which I like. A lot of the logistical issues are easily solved by having the Merries consist of Robin Hood and Little John walkin’ through the forest, laughin’ back and forth at what the other’un has to say. Oh, and Gareth. Ooh-de-lally.
(I'm going to have a hard time watching this and not imagining Rourke saying all of Ivan Drago's lines.)
OTHER VILLAINS - Sir not-Malcolm of Gisbourne has quite a few recurring thugs, but the only one that stands out is a fella I likes to call Whippy. Whippy uses whips as his only offensive weapons, which is sort of wildly impractical. They’re useful for keeping the dragon under control, or at least they were until the dragon grabbed them, dragged him forward and ate him. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t he just drop the whips?” Because they were tied to his arm, silly. My guess is the creators saw the Iron Man 2 trailer and thought Mickey Rourke looked totally cool. That’s my guess even though the Iron Man 2 trailer was released only a month before this came out, because I’d rather believe that this movie had a total of one month production time and contains blatant rip-offs than that they gave a guy such a ridiculous and stupid style just for a death scene.
("I've lived in Sherwood all my life, and never seen this..." Well, John, maybe you should look to your left once in a while.)
WORST LINE - “When Alina was born, she was fine.” - The Lead Sylvan.
Now, you may be wondering what’s so horrible about that. The thing is, every other line the fairies have is comprised of the stupidest, most stereotypical fantacrap you’ve ever heard. The line immediately before this one is “When she returned from her sojourn to the world beyond, her womb was flush with the seed of life.” And then all they can describe the baby as is ‘fine’? Good gravy, man, if you’re going to be crappy, at least be consistently crappy.
WORST LINE RUNNER-UP - “Where I come from, laws are made by men, not trees.” Robin Hood, setting ‘em straight.
WORST DIALOGUE EXCHANGE -
Marian - That’s a one in a million shot!
Robin - Fortunately for you, you happen to be imprisoned with a one in a million sort of fellow.
NO NO NO! Damnit, Robin! If you’re going to make a snappy comeback, it has to be…. Well, snappy! Not long and stilted! Do it like this!
Marian - That’s a one in a million shot!
Robin - Well, I’m a one in a million guy.
I fully expect to see better quipping from you in the sequel, where you and a werewolf fight sea monsters or some shit.
COMING UP NEXT -
THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952)
(Hat not appearing in this film)
PLOT - After a mid-70s vintage Wonderful World of Disney intro, showcasing a few better movies, a lot of worse ones, and many many shots of people having aggressively manufactured fun at Disneyland, we start our movie proper. Whoa. An RKO Radio Picture. Retro. Well, here we are in the good old days, when a fundamentalist Christian head of state could invade the Middle East without everyone getting all sensitive about it. The Earl of Huntington is of to Crusade with the king, and his daughter Marian is staying with the queen. His estate is being looked after by his servant Hugh Fitz-Ooth, and Hugh’s son Robin, because poor people can‘t join the army. Or something. Once the king is safely out of the way, the Prince commences to plottin’ and tells his lackey the Sheriff to hold an archery contest, and ask all the kick-assest archers to join his army. Hugh wins impressively and denounces the sheriff even more impressively. On the way home, this happens.
Robin : Gee dad, do you think you should have upset that powerful asshole who works directly for the king’s brother, who is in charge right now?
Hugh : I wouldn’t worry about it son. See, the sheriff HURK
(Hugh falls over with an arrow in his back)
I’m paraphrasing, but only slightly. Anyway, Robin lives in the forest and collects a group of like-minded fellows, as per usual. At one point, they capture the Sheriff and ‘invite’ him to dinner at their camp, liberating him of much of his treasure as part of the ‘bill’. It’s so cute. Two years later - TWO?! - the king is kidnapped, and Marian gets word to the outlaws, who boldly pay the ransom using money stolen from the Prince. There’s some more plotting, Marian gets kidnapped, fight fight fight, and the King shows up at the end to tell Marian that she must leave the woods and marry the Earl of Loxley. And guess who just got that title? Oh, that King Richard I. What a jokester.
(It begins, as do all good Robin Hood movies, with a monorail)
GENERAL THOUGHTS - I’m returning to my old style rather than separating the good, bad, and other, because in this movie, the good, bad, and other are all the same thing. See, this movie is extremely 1950s. Now, I know that’s not the kind of thing one expects to see referenced as a positive, but hear me out. The 50s were a time when you could have a guy living in the woods as a hunted man and still play it as fun, rather than anything serious. And fun it is, with Robin placing lots of emphasis on camaraderie and feasting and such. I’ve mentioned before having issues with why Robin gets so many people following him, but in the candy-colored world of this movie, he’s exactly the sort of guy you would follow. I’m not sorry we’ve lost this attitude, gosh knows entertainment is generally better these days, but it’s kind of fun to see a Robin Hood that’s free to just enjoy himself.
(Robin and Marian play hide and seek. On an unrelated note, who here's seen The 10th Kingdom?)
Now as far as the actual filmmaking goes, I really like that they use aspects of the story that everyone knows, yet twist them around a bit so they're still unexpected. For example, rather than having the sheriff’s man hit the bull’s eye and Robin split his arrow, they have the sheriff’s man juuust barely miss the center, Robin hit it, and then Robin’s dad split his son’s arrow. (Which also solves the problem of how that makes Robin the winner, rather than resulting in a tie.) Or rather than have Robin make a really obvious “Here, let me blow my horn for no reason, Mr. Angry Tall Guy” move after losing to John on the bridge, he complains that his horn may be waterlogged, and blows into it to “clear it out”, thus sending his men rushing to his aid. There’s also a lot of fun innovative bits added. I particularly liked the use of color-coded arrows with whistles on the tips used by the Merries to send messages to each other. Oh, and that they angle their bows up when they fire, rather than just acting like an arrow’s just going to go straight like a bullet.
(A member of the upper church hierarchy who's not evil? Fuckin' 50s.)
But for all that great stuff I mentioned, there’s a dark side. See, I mentioned that they take well-known bits and twist them, but they assume possibly way too much familiarity on the audience’s behalf with the story. There’s no mention of why he’s called Robin Hood rather than Robin Fitz-Ooth, there’s no mention of where Scarlet and the rest of the Merries come from, and every major plot action is so vague, I could only make sense of some of it by associating it to other Robin Hood stories I had read. I suppose in the 1950s, they were expecting young people to be more familiar with Robin Hood, but it still strikes me as bad storytelling. Also, while the performances are natural and charming, the production value is anything but. Costumes and sets range from cheap but acceptable to just plain painful. And lacking, one must assume, as skilled an archer as the one who was firing arrows into the armored stomachs of extras in 1939, most arrow shots consist of Robin firing his bow followed by a whip pan to the victim holding an arrow to his chest and grimacing. It’s really stupid. And there’s that two-year jump in the story after the sheriff leaves their camp. Even for this movie, that’s a bit mind boggling.
Look, what it comes down to is this. This is a huge slice of 1950s cheese. The opinions you have of it will be affected by whether the good outweighs the bad for you. The performances are winning, the dialogue is lacking, the plotting is horrible… There’s not much consistency here. Me, I found it to be a whole crazy bunch of fun. It was nice to watch a completely unserious version of the story. And I know this sounds weird, given that I’ve now spent a huge chunk of this review on relatively earnest analysis instead of jokes, but it was nice to give my brain a rest and enjoy the fun. This move made me feel more like the kid that read his Grandpa’s Robin Hood book over and over on the porch than any other I’ve seen so far, and that can’t be a bad thing. So, yeah, the 50s. Good, bad, and everything in between. Damn, this section was like an entry unto itself. Okay, back to the funny.
(Hast thou thy tickets... to the GUN SHOW? Quickly, fetch me some snake oil... FOR THESE PYTHONS ARE SICK.)
ROBIN - Well, as has already been mentioned, this is a more fun-loving Robin Hood. I also like that his plans frequently involve publicly shaming the sheriff, rather than merely stealing from him. Robin doesn’t just help the poor, he empowers them by making their oppressor look like a fool. Again, this wouldn’t fly today. The BBC sheriff is occasionally made to look silly, but if the townsfolk laughed at him, he’d feed their children to his birds. But here in Disneyland, Robin is free to be whimsical. Richard Todd is a decent enough actor, more than enough for what this movie requires, and his romantic interests are believable. But he doesn’t wear a Robin Hood hat! I swear to crap, if this movie’s gonna go all über-50s on us, the least they could do is throw in an adventurer’s cap for the bossman.
("What is this? Do I eat it?")
LITTLE JOHN - This Nicol Williamson lookin’ mofo is pretty good, as standard Little Johns go. The bridge scene carried shades of The Outlawsof Sherwood in that they were clearly testing each other, except here they’re having fun and not being crabby. After he wins and joins the band, they “baptize” him by throwing him in the river, and he proceeds to happily fulfill the big jolly guy role. He's smart, too, which is nice. Other than that, there’s really nothing of note, save his fun fur hat, styling beard, and pre-fight warm-up. You know how when a movie wants to make a swordsman look impressive, they’ll have him flourish his sword all around before the fight? Well, this guy does that with a six-foot quarterstaff. And I don’t mean he does some cool staff moves to show off, I mean he holds it like a sword and swings it around. It’s so cool.
(Let's see, good Will joke... Journal of the Wills? Too obscure. Triumph of the Wills? Too Nazi. Bondage of the Wills? Noooo...)
WILL SCARLET - WOO! Threefer! Not only do we get a blandly portrayed Will whose costume promises a vastly more intriguing character than is delivered, we get two more Wills in the bargain! Scathelocke and Stutley both make last-name-only appearances, probably because some Disney staff writer didn’t realize they were all the same guy, and thought that 13th-century balladeers were just lazy at coming up with first names. Scarlet is Robin’s cousin, which I honestly did not hear mentioned until the fifth time I watched it. As for the ex-Wills, they’re used to represent two kinds of oppressed peasant, with Stutely caught poaching and Scathelocke (played by Sir Michael Hornden. Well, by regular Michael Hornden at the time.) arrested for non-payment of taxes. The scene that follows is… weird. Scathelocke goes into a pillory. Okay, sure. Stutely is… um… Well, he’s dressed like a deer and suspended in midair over a smoking brazier. Then… then the guards all ride around in a big circle, and hit him with sticks whenever they pass. What the hell? There’s a fun editing mistake where one of them tries to hit Scathelocke‘s back, and whacks him right in the teeth. He's fine afterwards, which I guess means those sticks don’t hurt as much as you‘d think. Sadly, the Gollum-like Stutely uses the beating as an excuse to not wear a shirt for the next few scenes. Eww.
(I simply must goooooo...)
TUCK - Why, I remember at the Ren Fair the scene where Friar Tuck has a little conversation with himself, playing the role of friendly-inkeeper type and polite stranger, convincing himself to eat and drink. That was good stuff. The same scene is played out here, only when Tuck’s turning down the drink, he does a flirty girl voice, and when offering it, he does a seductive man voice. It’s like some weird medieval version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. He’s an acceptable enough Tuck, the usual sort of kind reassurance and a bit of wink-wink-nudge-nudge to Robin and Marian. What throws me is his look. His robe is an off-putting light grayish tan, and he’s clearly got a few pillows stuffed down the front for that Tuckian physique. Also, he’s got that weird sort of neck beard I let myself grow over the summer. Wow, this entry has given up on any pretense of being read by people who don’t know me personally. (Speaking of which, please note that at 4:47 in the scene I linked to, Robin calls Tuck a “lusty infant”. I am proud to say that was a reference to my writing, and I didn’t even know about it until I saw the scene. It‘s a great feeling for a writer to be referenced. Gives us a tingle.)
(Robin Hood versus the hideous troll-beast.)
MUCH - Speaking of name variants, we finally get one here. Midge the Miller is actually sort of a fun character. He’s not one of the Merries or even a likely applicant when he first appears. He’s just some absolutely hideous middle-aged miller with a body like Don Knotts and a face like the south end of a baboon heading north. He’s a sneaky miser who tries to transport his gold through the forest in a sack of flour, and when the fellas catch wise, he throws the flour in their face and kicks some pretty serious ass. Sure, he loses in the end, but it was like four on one, and he did good. Later on, he’s bumming around the camp and sees the light, voluntarily donating his coinage to the cause. (When the fellas catch wise? What am I, Edward G Robinson?)
(You may leave now, Lady Buzzkill.)
MARIAN - Absolutely fantastic Marian here. Too often it seems that the only two options for portraying Marian are to make her a stereotyped damsel in distress or a butt-kicking action girl. Or worse yet, they act like she’s a butt-kicking action girl, but just have her get captured all the time anyway. (coughPrinceofThievescough) In this movie, Marian engages in ladies’ pursuits, wears pretty dresses, and gets captured, but she still manages to be remarkably proactive. She sneaks away to meet the outlaws, and is the one who presents their money to queen Eleanor toward the end, thus clearing their name and increasing their public image. Moreover, her relationship with Robin is wonderfully playful. Her introductory scene has her intentionally messing up his archery practice by jostling the target, then making him describe his ideal woman, clearly meaning her. He describes someone tall, blonde, and blue-eyed, and when he mentions sweet-tempered, she kicks him in the shin. It’s hard to describe without sounding cutesy, but basically this is one of the versions where I see Robin and Marian getting together because they like each other, not because plot demands it. Plus, she looks just adorable in her Merrie Men outfit.
(See? Told you.)
SIR GUY - No Guy here. Actually, the John/Sheriff relationship here is a lot like the Sheriff/Guy relationship in later adaptations. John seems overly concerned with this relatively small area of England, and the plot would be a bit smoother if he was a local lord instead of the Prince Regent. Ooh, look I actually complained about something. Let’s go into some more detail, shall we?
(I need not tell thee things are bad. Everybody knowest things are bad. 'Tis a depression. I be enraged as the very flames of perdition, and I shall take it no longer!)
SHERIFF - When the Sheriff was introduced, I found myself quite surprised. He was a dignified looking older gentleman, who seemed to genuinely be a force for law and order. Why, he’s even offering to go along with the king to the… Crusade… Ohhhh, now I get it. John is given the job of finding the replacement, and chooses him offscreen. I’m not sure how he was selected, but I’d guess Evil Beard Contest. Anyway, he has little to do here but order the guards around and bluster impotently. And the guards are interchangeably described as soldiers and foresters. Same thing, right? He is played by Peter Finch, who is one of two actors ever who are so awesome, they won an Oscar after they died.
(Hair by Conan O'Brien)
THE MAN - Well, as I said, John is far too concerned with Nottingham, and the Sheriff is pretty much just the head of the guards, but putting that aside, how is he? Not too bad. In his introductory scene, he’s seeing off the King, and he’s all like “Oh, DARN, I really wish I could go with you seriously totally. Okay! Well, bye, don’t hurry back, I’ll keep your throne warm.” He then immediately commences to scheming on how to bilk poor peasants in one region. As for the king, he leaves at the beginning and shows up at the end, as per usual. I’m beginning to really hate it when the king shows up at the end. It’s one thing if he shows up near the end and helps out, but when he just turns up to throw out some titles and end the movie, it seems cheap.
("John, what are you doing back there?" "Um... scheming.")
Queen Eleanor also takes a major role in this, which I like. I haven’t reviewed much with Eleanor in it, but whenever she shows up she tends to be portrayed as Her Royal Sassiness. This is probably in line with history, seeing as Eleanor, not John, was actually Richard’s regent during the Crusade. That must have been an awkward family meeting. “John, your big brother Richard is going on a crusade.” “Yes! I get to be Prince Regent!” “About that. I know you’re next in line for the throne, but I’ve been missing the queening, so I figured I’d just step in and take over.” “No fair! You already got to rule the country!” “My decision is made, John! You‘ll just have to wait until Richard dies, and in the meantime, you can make some ineffective attempts to overthrow my underlings.” “Fine! I’ll do that! And then I’ll be king, and when I am, I’ll fight with cousin Arthur, and lose Normandy, and get excommunicated, and have terrible relations with the barons until they all but force me to sign the Magna Carta, thereby laying the groundwork for constitutional law in Europe!” “That’s nice dear. Maybe in 400 years, they’ll retcon you into an existing legend as a villain.”
(I swear, if one more of you assholes yells "Freebird"...)
OTHER MERRY MEN - Alan A’Dale shows up, and I actually quite like him. He narrates the film, but of course, so we have to put up with his balladeering ways every so often. The neat hook is that he’s not narrating from the future and singing a prepared song, but rather going around during the story making up ballads about Robin’s latest exploits while begging for coins. So it’s a combination of retelling stuff we’ve seen and revealing stuff we haven’t, while and at the same time showing Robin’s growth as a folk hero and having Alan seem like an actual minstrel and not just an outlaw with a mandolin. It’s kind of like the news reports in Starship Troopers, showing us the progress of the war and how it’s perceived. Just with less Nazi Howser and more hey-nonny-nonnys. Alan has a dog, too, which I don’t really get, but whatever.
(This random guy takes down the Sheriff like three times in group fights. Must be the director's cousin or something.)
OTHER VILLAINS - None spring to mind. According to online sources, one of the sheriff’s thugs got a name. Red Gill. I didn’t say it was a good name. Red is played by Archie Duncan, shortly to achieve fame as TV’s Little John. Good for him. I guess I can throw in the Archbishop. He doesn’t do anything evil, but since the upper echelons of priesthood tend toward the evil in these things, I’ll count him here. Just so Red won’t be lonely.
The original Sheriff and his EYEBROWS.)
BEST LINE - Will : Are you of a mind to join us? You’ll eat fresh meat every day, sleep soft, and have money in your poke!
Robin : Ah - Provided you kill your own food, make your own bed, steal your own wages, and give them to the poor.
WORST LINE - There‘s a lot of silly ‘50s lines in this, which sometimes provoke eye rolls, and sometimes giggles and hand clapping, but the line that most stood out on my viewings was “We’ll split Prince John from nottle to nock!” Look Alan, I know you’re a minstrel, and people expect your suggestions to be a bit whimsical, but that just sounds silly. But as it is my custom to fix these ridiculous lines, allow me to suggest a different one…
COMING UP NEXT - Soooo… Dom DeLuise’s son directed a SyFy channel movie where Robin Hood fights a dragon. It’s full of Canadian actors and shitty CGI and also there’s some fairies in it. Ah, sometimes, the world sends me beautiful gifts.
(Take that thing off, Jerry, you look like a dumbass.)