Robin Hood

It's the early 1200s. Richard The Lionheart is killed in France as his battle-weary Crusaders plunder their way back to England. Our story takes place BEFORE the signing of the Magna Carta in 1214, although you can see the idea formulating with the barons who expect even more onerous taxation as their newly crowned King John demonstrates his ineptitude at leadership (he lost his war with France in the next year or so). This was centuries after Pax Romana, so it is no surprise to see old Roman mileposts along the road.

Enough history! Let's talk about who's who in this romp (there is far more humor and music than I expected). Some of these folks completely fooled me:
  • Russell Crowe ("State of Play") is our hero. It's fun to watch him assemble his well-known cadre of friends.
  • Cate Blanchett ("Indiana Jones....Crystal Skull") Marian was married for a week to a fellow who left with Richard the Lionheart. This spirited gal has been living and working on her blind father-in-law's farm for years.
  • Max von Sydow ("Shutter Island") It is this blind man's idea to pass off Robin Longstride as his long-absent son, to secure ownership of his farm for his hard-working daughter-in-law when he dies.
  • Mark Strong ("Sherlock Holmes") is the double-dealing villain of the piece. He has a generous amount of on-screen time and uses it well.
  • Eileen Atkins ("Cranford") is Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two kings and mother of two. She has a wry view of power.
  • Danny Huston ("Edge of Darkness") I never suspected that he was playing Richard the Lionheart!
  • Mark Addy ("The Full Monty") His Friar Tuck is a beekeeper.
  • Matthew Macfadydn ("Death at a Funeral" - 2007) has a very funny moment as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • William Hurt ("Endgame") is one of the leaders who sees the flaws in newly crowned King John.
  • Oscar Isaac ("Body of Lies") is Prince (soon to be King) John. He is selfish, spoiled, cowardly and short-sighted. We get great satisfaction knowing that this piece of work will be forced to sign the Magna Carta in the near future!
The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Director Ridley Scott shows us how hard the serfs worked in those days...e.g., plowing, horseshoeing, fetching water, etc. Blanchett looks pretty convincing as she works on that horse's hoof or wrestles with a plow! She and Crowe manage to generate some heat even though they keep most of their clothes on!

140 minutes running time! When will they let ME do the editing? I'd be happy to prune off LOTS of tedious slaughter!