Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood" is Flick Still Fun

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Running time: 143 minutes (2 hours, 23 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13
DIRECTOR: Kevin Reynolds
WRITERS: Pen Densham and John Watson (from a story by Pen Densham)
PRODUCERS: Pen Densham, John Watson, and Richard B. (Barton) Lewis with Kevin Costner (no screen credit)
EDITOR: Peter Boyle
Academy Award nominee

ADVENTURE/ROMANCE/DRAMA with elements of action and comedy

Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman, Geraldine McEwan, Michael McShane, Michael Wincott, Nick Brimble, and Soo Drouet with (uncredited) Sean Connery

Plagued by controversy, Kevin Costner’s reworking of the Robin Hood legend, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was the first blockbuster hit of 1991 and finished the year in the top five highest grossing films. On the way to the screen, Costner and his producing partners (Costner doesn’t actually get screen credit for his role as a producer) locked director Kevin Reynolds (Costner’s friend at the time) and editor Peter Boyle out of the editing room in order to cut their own version of the film.

Critics and fans panned Costner for his wooden acting, stiff speaking style, and bad English accent or half-accent, but the movie is entertaining. It’s not Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (of which I find critical and fan opinion a tad bit overblown), but Prince of Thieves is rousing entertainment. Despite it’s almost television movie quality, Robin Hood is charming with its humor, slightly cheesy romance, and stirring adventure.

In this version, Robin of Locksley (Costner) returns from the Third Crusades with a foreign friend, the Moor Azeem (Morgan Freeman). Robin finds his father dead and his lands dispossessed to the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman). Nottingham is starving the poor peasants and stealing their money, as well as gold and other treasures in order to create a large enough bribe to get the English barons to join him in a revolt against the still-missing King Richard the Lionhearted. Locksley becomes Robin Hood and joins a band of peasants hiding in Sherwood Forest. He convinces them to follow his lead in a revolt against Nottingham. Robin also has time to romance a childhood friend, Marian Dubois or “Maid Marian” (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who is also the flower of Nottingham’s eye.

Alan Rickman drew very favorable responses, even raves, for his performance as Nottingham, and he gives the film a decided edge with his gallows humor and his odd combination of self-deprecation and egotism. His Nottingham serves to make Costner’s stiff Robin Hood really seem like a bold and brave leader against Nottingham’s tyranny. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is a lovely presence and she brings enchantment to the Robin and Marian romance. This isn’t a great film, but Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a simple film that gives simple pleasures.

6 of 10

1992 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Music, Original Song” (Michael Kamen-music, Bryan Adams-lyrics, and Robert John Lange-lyrics for the song "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You")

1992 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Alan Rickman) and 1 nomination: “Best Costume Design” (John Bloomfield)

1992 Golden Globes: 2 nominations: “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Michael Kamen) and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Michael Kamen-music, Bryan Adams-lyrics, and Robert John Lange-lyrics for the song "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You")


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