Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood adaptation has not had an easy time of it, and as usual with Scott it’s hard to tell if the problems are just bumps in the road to a great destination, or signs that the movie’s getting hopelessly lost.
The setup seems to be his usual gritty-yet-surprisingly-well-lit take on the men behind the legend, this time casting the usually-villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in a more human and conflicted light, and showing Robin Hood’s struggle, flaws, and heartbreak as he fights to avenge his family’s death at the hands of
Roman legions various Medieval people. It worked with Gladiator!
…and it really didn’t work with Kingdom of Heaven.
The initial Ethan Reiff/Cyrus Voris script has passed through rewrites by doctors like Brian Helgeland and Tom Stoppard, which would usually be considered an upgrade, except that they weren’t even the only ones working on rewrites, and Stoppard was rewriting the movie as shooting progressed, which is just the sort of thing that makes producers clench their sternums like they’re having a community theatre heart attack.
On the other hand, it sounds like rewrites would have been necessary in any case: Sienna Miller dropped out of the role of Maid Marian due to “scheduling difficulties,” amid rumors that she was too young for a part as Crowe’s contemporary, which is true (or that she can’t act, which is equally true!). She was replaced by Cate Blanchett, an upgrade of almost-unimaginable proportions, and more than enough reason to warrant some script overhauls. (Reasons for not similarly jettisoning William Hurt remain unclear.)
Even though the movie’s not set to premiere until May of 2010, he first promotional materials have begun to trickle in, and all those who guessed that Scott and Crowe were going to try to recreate the Gladiator magic may sit down, since that was obvious from the get-go, and the recent promotional stills confirm that Crowe will look appropriately frowny and badass at all times, even while charging into battle on his beautiful and symbolic white pony.
However, it appears that the studio is aware of the potential pitfalls of trying to recapture old glory, and is worried that even the memory of Gladiator won’t bring enough people to the box office. Entertainment site ComingSoon.net has the new teaser trailer, in which there is (suspiciously?) little dialogue, and the Uh-Oh Drums soundtrack quickly gives way to a hard-rock beat that leaves you waiting for “This…is…SHERWOOD!” to break out at any moment.
That said, Russell Crowe generally delivers on the acting front, Cate Blanchett is foolproof, and there’s little I love more than Robin Hood giving us some slow-motion archery. (You’ll see me there opening night, is what I’m saying.)
Genevieve is most excited by the fact that Cate Blanchett’s blue dress has historical basis. (It’s the little things.) She geeks out about movie costumes regularly on her blog.