18 December 2010

No Bloody Hood

Birthday present update: As well as penetrating nearly halfway into Surface Detail, I've now listened to all those Eurythmics CDs and watched all the DVDs I hadn't already seen, as well as Doctor Who series 5, which I had.

I'd love to write a detailed, considered appreciation both of that series (the best since... erm, actually, possibly ever, to my mind, thanks to the thoughtful brilliance of both showrunner and lead actor), and of season 2 of the excellent True Blood as well. I'm still hoping I might manage to in the New Year... but since Christmas has all but engulfed me in its tinselly, tentacular embrace, it's much quicker and easier laying into something rubbish.

While I'm obviously grateful to my parents for buying it for me when asked and thus expanding my collection of adaptations of the Robin Hood legend, the 2010 Robin Hood film certainly fits the bill. It's a stupid, formulaic period action-adventure achieving nothing notable or original except to ignore completely every single facet of the source material in favour of telling a completely different story about another character entirely. (OK, so there's a thirty-second sequence halfway through where "Robin" and his pals -- including, for no apparent reason, their village friar -- prevent a wagon from taking away the village's taxes in grain. They wear hoods during it. AND THAT'S IT.)

Utterly derivative though the plot is, the historical absurdity of everything in the film after about the halfway point is simply staggering. SPOILERS (highlight to read): Robin is, supposedly, the son of a stonemason who wrote a prototype Magna Carta some 40 years early and persuaded an army of barons to sign up to it before it was rejected (presumably by Henry II, although the film doesn't really go into that) and he was executed. His son -- now a yeoman archer who's discovered that he can effortlessly imitate a knight, thus bringing him into direct contact with his old man's aristocratic contacts -- ends up leading a popular uprising (again consisting mostly of barons), who blackmail the treacherous King John into apparently supporting the revived charter before they all go off to fight a completely nonexistent French invasion. Including, stupidly, Marian. Who apparently dies so Russell Crowe can do some emoting, but is fine again at the end.

The film has the occasional good idea -- Robin as a traumatised ex-crusader, Marian as a middle-aged widow -- but without exception they're good ideas first used in other adaptations, and aren't wielded with any kind of deftness or even consistency. Some commentators have claimed to find allegorical support for the cretinous US Tea Party movement in the film's presentation of unjust taxation under the Plantagenets, but I honestly think they give it credit for far more in the way of basic coherence than it achieves. Its chief political message appears to be that the French are basically evil, and you shouldn't trust Kings who have pointy black beards either.

Even as someone who actually quite liked Ridley Scott's unpopular earlier Crusade-based epic, Kingdom of Heaven, I was just appalled by this one.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:20 am

    My thoughts exactly! Great summary - thanks!



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