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THE REEL: Robin Hood remake strays from the original storyline

Friday February 22 2019

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the producers of the 2018

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the producers of the 2018 "Robin Hood" remake. PHOTO | AFP 

THOMAS RAJULA
By THOMAS RAJULA
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When it comes to movies about the thief who “stole from the rich to give to the poor”, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves by Kevin Costner in 1991 and Russel Crowe’s Robin Hood in 2010 are probably the most likely flicks to come to mind.

Now we have a 2018 reboot of sorts. In the beginning of this story we are told to forget all we think we know about Robin Hood, which piqued my interest to see the changes they made to the original storyline.

Robin (Taron Egerton, from the Kingsman films) is Lord Robin of Loxley. He lives a privileged life as a nobleman in his family’s mansion. His meeting with Marian (Eve Hewson) in this version is almost like the ultimate case of reversed roles.

Needless to say, he falls in love with her and things are going on smoothly with them until he is drafted to join the crusade and go to war against the Arabs in the Holy Land. This is where he perfects his archery and fighting skills.

During one expedition, he is shot by his comrade while trying to prevent the needless killing of a young prisoner of war in front of his father. Yahya (Jamie Foxx), or John in English, is an Arabic fighter who, after witnessing the murder and capture of his people, stows away in the ship that returns the injured Robin to England.

Robin comes home to find his love, Marian, exiled from his ruined house. Also, all of his possessions auctioned off by the sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) to help pay for the war effort. The citizens of Nottingham have also been bled dry by the war taxes imposed on them.

John is seeking revenge for the constant expeditions that have seen town folks sent to fight the war in Arabia, and he holds the sheriff responsible. He approaches Robin and they become besties as Robin plots to get his revenge, starting by stealing the money the sheriff gets from taxing the citizens.

PRINCE OF THIEVES

Robin is always in a hood and half mask during these missions, to protect his identity, and the people of Nottingham see him as a source of hope in the hard economic times. This makes the sheriff restless and eager to put a stop to him. He is therefore pleased when Lord Robin of Loxley offers to pay a huge bounty to whoever catches the hood (something that should have raised questions seeing as he had just come back from a four-year crusade and had no wealth). This was a kind of a Bruce Wayne/ Batman-like ploy to get really close to the sheriff.

Robin eventually gets a seat at the big table and discovers a plot by the sheriff and the church to destabilise the English government using the money gained from the collection of these taxes.

There were a number of things that I felt went unexplained in this movie. One, that John seemed to know so much about the inner workings of Nottingham that he could advice Robin, yet he was a foreigner in a foreign country and town. This was just the beginning of my confusion and where the movie went downhill, for me, was when the ‘merry men’ here turned out to be not merry at all. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

The lack of any humour from a character like Friar Tuck was disheartening. I feel like such characters are meant to create some much needed comic relief particularly in such a grim and dour movie.

The writers discarded Nottingham Forest as if it were nothing and gave us the mines where the citizens work (I couldn’t tell you what the mines produce; we have no idea).

I really should add something positive right about now but what was it with all that fire in the mines? I feel like in every shot we got of the mines there were 10 fire flames billowing, which was gross overkill. It’s sad that they took such a rich classic and did a sort of action-themed reboot while simultaneously removing all the good things about Robin Hood.

Leonardo DiCaprio should rest easy knowing that this piece of work won’t be remembered long enough to attract criticism, as he was one of the producers; but it was a box office bomb.

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