Trailer Tuesday: Robin Hood
We're clearly living in the era of the badass movie hero - whether we like it or not. The Superman film franchise is apparently undergoing a "darker" revamp because the character is seen as too much of a boring goodie goodie; winged horse Pegasus has gone black for the new Clash of the Titans; and now we even have a new, apparently highly intense take on popular English folklore hero Robin Hood.
There's no place for Bryan Adams crooning "Everything I do, I do it for you" in this new film, which, if the trailer - complete with pounding rock music - is to be believed, really deserves the title Robin Hood: First Blood.
Russell Crowe stars as 13th Century archer and nobleman Robin of Loxley, who returns to England after fighting in the Crusades alongside Richard the Lionheart. In Nottingham, however, Robin finds only crippling taxation and corruption under the rule of the despotic Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen), who is in turn answering to ineffectual new English ruler King John (Oscar Isaac). To correct this injustice, Robin assembles a band of mercenaries and sets out to systematically reclaim the stolen wealth from the overindulgent rich, and even the king himself. At the same time, Robin becomes a central figure in a peasant uprising, and finds himself falling for spirited widow Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), who is highly distrustful of the rebel leader.
So yes, do not expect Robin Hood to be a charming forest-dwelling rogue in this new film. The first big screen Robin Hood of the 21st Century will be a guerrilla, freedom fighter or terrorist, depending on what inflammatory term you want to use to describe him.
Personally I still have my doubts about this new Robin Hood, which, for the record, is directed by Russell Crowe's most common behind-the-camera collaborator, Ridley Scott.
I appreciate the fact that the filmmakers are going for a gritty, realistic approach to distinguish the film from 1991's swashbuckling romance Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which remains for many (myself included) the definitive Robin Hood film - despite being almost 20 years old by now. However, I am concerned that by adopting such an angle, the new Robin Hood will feel too derivative; too reminiscent of such other anti-authority historical epics as Braveheart, director Scott's very own Kingdom of Heaven and, of course, Gladiator, starring Crowe. It doesn't help that Crowe in Robin Hood has the exact same look (beard and close-cropped hair) as Maximus, his Gladiator character.
Frankly I was more excited about this reimagining of Robin Hood when the project was first announced in 2007. During the early stages of its development the film was called Nottingham, and was going to feature a role reversal at its core: the Sheriff of Nottingham was to be a noble lawman who finds himself caught in a love triangle, as well as a battle of wills, with shady outlaw Robin Hood. Also, it was rumoured that Crowe would play both the Sheriff and Robin Hood. At least this concept sounded more original and interesting than a standard "outnumbered underdogs vs. powerful authority" tale, and I can't help but bemoan the lost potential.
Still though, the new Robin Hood could go either way. I'm hoping to feel a burst of anticipation closer to the film's release, which is 14 May in the United States and, for a refreshing change, in South Africa as well.