Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

The Mummy (2017)

The Dark Universe franchise is off to a rough start.

Universal went all out for its new “monsters” shared universe film series by forking out the big bucks for megastars Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in the first entry, The Mummy. The hope was that the film would kick off a lucrative Avengers-style franchise that would later feature the likes of Johnny Depp’s The Invisible Man, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster, and possibly Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the Wolfman.

Unfortunately, and to be honest, not to my complete surprise, The Mummy turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. Not even Tom Cruise’s usual energy and Russell Crowe’s deep voice could save this ambitious but ultimately dull and inconsistent affair that compares unfavourably to Brendan Fraser’s adventure-packed 1999 version of The Mummy .

In this film, directed by Alex Kurtzman, Tom Cruise plays a soldier who stumbles across the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) and unleashes a powerful curse that proceeds to wreak havoc on the world. Annabelle Wallis (from Annabelle) plays a frighteningly attractive archaeologist and Jake Johnson is the sidekick, while Russell Crowe makes a pivotal appearance as Dr. Henry Jekyll (you know, Jekyll and Hyde).

It’s clear, with Mission: Impossible‘s Christopher McQuarrie as a co-writer, The Mummy was aiming to be a similar action spectacular with a Tom Cruise doing crazy stunts plus a mix of genuine horror elements and a dash of humour.  And to be fair, the film does have each of those things, but they never fit together comfortably or transition from one tone to the other with the smoothness it required. The action is pretty good but nothing I would call awesome. The centerpiece is the zero gravity stunt Tom Cruise has been selling, but the majority of it is sadly spoiled by the trailers, along with most of the other decent action sequences. If you’ve seen a trailer or two for this movie like I had then chances are there won’t be anything that comes close to wowing you.

On the other hand, there were some solid horror moments featuring grotesque creatures, but you wouldn’t really classify them as legitimately scary. It’s certainly not at the same level as a “proper” horror film in terms of generating scares. And the humour littered throughout is sporadic and mostly cheesy. Together, the three elements failed to mesh, and it was hard to get a good feel of exactly what the film was trying to be.

The film’s biggest problem is the pains it goes to in order to set up this new extended universe. The plot is steered towards creating this world of evil and monsters, and it’s not done with much of subtlety. The result is a lot of forced dialogue and exposition, which sagged the pace and the sense of adventure I hoped the film could have had. I actually guessed the ending before I even stepped into the cinema, and it’s really not that hard to do if you think about where they are going with this franchise. I will say though that it didn’t make much sense either.

I don’t put any of the blame on Tom Cruise, who clearly did everything he could for the film. Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson and Russell Crowe were all actually very solid too. Ultimately, I fault the script, which was heavily hampered by the need to lay the foundations for the future of the franchise. The story started off quite well and was exciting up to a point, but there was a lengthy middle section after Dr. Jekyll appeared that stagnated the plot to do a lot of unnecessary explaining. It’s cool they got a female mummy and all, though Sofia Boutella’s character isn’t particularly memorable and even comes across as similar to Patricia Velasquez’s Anck-su-Namun from the 1999 version.

In the end, I wouldn’t say The Mummy was horrible — it just wasn’t very good or as good as it needed to be. I wish Universal could have worked on The Mummy as a standalone first and ensured that it was a success before planning out all the later installments. They should have learned their lesson from the DCEU, which produced the similarly disappointing Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. It seems unlikely that Universal will pull the plug on the Dark Universe franchise because Tom Cruise movies typically do gangbusters in overseas markets (I saw it in a packed house on a Wednesday afternoon during work hours) — and as we’ve seen with Wonder Woman, the ship can be straightened — but it’s going to be an uphill battle after this disappointing first entry.

2.75 stars out of 5

The Nice Guys (2016)

In all honesty, I was not particularly amped up to see The Nice Guys despite how good it looked on paper: Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a film by the awesome Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and soon the Predator reboot) — the potential for awesomeness was absolutely there. But it was a buddy comedy set in the 70s, which reminded me of Starsky and Hutch (that’s not a good thing), and plus the film kinda bombed at the box office, so my expectations were dampened somewhat.

Seeing this film again confirms my idiocy, because it is freaking great! In terms of pure fun and laughs, I can’t think of a better comedy in 2016 than The Nice Guys. Crowe and Gosling are both great actors, but I never expected them to be great comedic actors with superb comedic timing, and certainly not for the two of them to have such wonderful chemistry.

Crowe plays Jackson Healy, a tough guy enforcer who basically gets paid to beat people up. Somehow, he ends up crossing paths with a pathetic private eye named Holland March (Gosling), and the duo team up to solve a mystery that involves a dead porn actress, high-ranking government officials and lots of goons with guns.

I loved the wacky vibe of the film from the get-go. It doesn’t take itself very seriously and has that old school charm with plenty of witty banter and crazy situations. The film makes great use of random happenings and coincidence, which reminded me of one of the greatest movies of all time, Pulp Fiction. I was also surprised by how much slapstick there was in the film and how effective it was, especially when blended in with wonderfully executed action sequences. It helped that too that there was actually a plot that was not too basic and kept up that air of mystery and intrigue, and yet it was also not too convoluted to make it hard to follow.

Crowe plays the straight man in this odd couple while Gosling plays against type the moronic, uncoordinated goofball. Audiences used to seeing the romantic (The Notebook), suave (Crazy Stupid Love) or cool (Drive) Gosling are in for a huge shock because he goes all out in making a fool of himself in this movie — and he’s fantastic at it. The against-type casting really works to the film’s advantage because it’s so unexpected. Gosling might have gotten the Oscar nomination for Best Actor for La La Land, but there’s an argument that he’s just as deserving for this role.

Special mention also goes to young Angourie Rice as Gosling’s daughter, Holly March, who provides the emotional center of the film and the catalyst for the character development of the two main leads. Despite being just 16 years old in real life, she holds her own against two of Hollywood’s heavyweights. And of course, she’s an Aussie. Can’t wait to see her next in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

All in all, The Nice Guys really exceeded my expectations and turned out to be one of the funniest movie experiences I’ve had in a while. It’s nice and refreshing to get a good comedy these days that’s not drenched in cheap laughs or laced with unnecessary sentimentality (like those damn Judd Apatow dramedies). It’s a shame that not a lot of people saw the movie notwithstanding the draw of the cast and the director and the positive reviews and word of mouth. Definitely worth checking out if you feel like a good laugh — it might be the best comedy of the year.

4.5 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Water Diviner (2014)

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Russell Crowe fancies himself as the world’s greatest actor, so I was curious to see how he would fare in his directorial debut, The Water Diviner, about a grieving father’s quest to find his three missing sons in Turkey following the end of World War I.

The film is “inspired by a true story,” whatever that means, and while it is largely grounded in reality it has a somewhat “magical” feel, where audiences are supposed to be believe in miracles and that “everything happens for a reason”. I don’t want to say it is a bad film, because it’s not, though after hearing Crowe talk it up so much and describing how much effort and passion and experience he poured into the production, not to mention its win for Best Picture at the AACTA Awards (shared with Babadook), my immediate response after watching it was: “That’s it?”

It’s an Aussie production through-and-through, with a mostly Australian cast and crew that features one prominent recognisable foreign signee, the lovely Olga Kurylenko, as a widowed Turkish hotelier. Crowe apparently just wanted to focus on directing, but the film producers wouldn’t give the movie the green light without him in the starring role. Russell was said to have put the crew through a rigorous boot camp to prepare them physically and mentally for their roles, and raved on about how he felt he was the only person in the world who could do the film justice. Despite this being his first film as director, he believed he had more experience than most directors — including Ridley Scott — given his 30 years as an actor in the industry.

And yet, The Water Diviner, notwithstanding its touching premise, turned out to be not all that much better than a glorified TV movie. It is well-researched and provides the historical background from both sides — notwithstanding typical accusations of inaccuracies — and there are undeniably moving moments, dramatic scenes and nicely choreographed war sequences, though many of the positives are undone by a sappy tone and corny melodrama. The contrived romance between Crowe’s and Kurylenko’s characters, in particular, was completely unnecessary and took away the focus from the film’s heart, which is a father’s grief and the love for his sons.

Led by Crowe’s typical self-assuredness, the performances from the cast are decent. Jai Courtney, who seems to be everywhere these days, plays an ANZAC captain who has his doubts about the Aussie farmer’s quest. Jacqueline McKenzie has a small role as Crowe’s depressed wife, while Packed to the Rafters star Ryan Corr plays one of Crowe’s sons. Isabelle Lucas is for some strange reason in it, looking way too thin as a basically pointless side character.

Perhaps its the budget or time constraints, but The Water Diviner fails to deliver the sweeping epic it appears to have set out to be. Instead, it’s a solid and even occasionally good, but ultimately unspectacular film that likely won’t have producers rushing to ask Crowe to direct their future projects.

3 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Noah (2014)

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Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is one hell of a trippy experience. You cannot possibly go into this movie without some preconceived notions of what it is about, but ignoring those notions is imperative if you want to comprehend it, let along enjoy it.

As the title suggests, the film centers around the biblical character of Noah, and if any actor can be accused of having a God complex it would have to be the man playing him, Aussie Russell Crowe (or when he makes a dick of himself, “New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe”).

But the thing is, Noah is decidedly a non-religious movie. It’s a fantasy film that is so loosely based on the source material that it would be misleading to even call it “loosely based.”

God is not called “God” — he’s the Creator. We never see Noah speaking to him, and thankfully we never see the Creator talking back. In fact, there is no concrete evidence proving that the Creator even made contact with Noah, who may simply be a lunatic, though everything that happens in the movie strongly suggests that everything we are seeing is not just a string of random coincidences.

To make things even weirder, the film is filled with strange animals not of this world and creatures that look like they came straight out the Middle Earth, including these stone golems called the Watchers (apparently called Nephilim in the Bible) who remind me of LOTR‘s Ents. Parts of the film, in fact, have a distinct LOTR-type feel, with epic battles, epic speeches and an epic old man with white hair who seems to know a little bit of magic (in this case he’s Noah’s grandfather Methuselah, played by Anthony Hopkins).

(On the other hand, there is a guy called Noah, he does build an ark, there is a flood, and there are references to the Garden of Eden, and everyone’s a descendant of either Cain (the guy who killed his brother Abel) or his brother Seth.)

So if Noah is a Bible movie it certainly does not feel like legitimate one, and if you are a devout Christian expecting a “faithful” experience like The Passion of the Christ, you will likely come away not just disappointed but wondering what the heck just happened.

Having said that, Noah still works — surprisingly well too — as a timeless fable, a fantasy morality tale that could have been set in another world. And let’s face it, most reasonable Christians would probably concede that the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark is not a literal story but a fable, or at least take the position that it does not matter if it really happened because it’s the message that’s ultimately important. The universal themes — faith, family, vengeance, survival, love, compassion, mercy and salvation — are all there anyway, so what’s the big deal if they spice it up a little with some added melodrama, crazy creatures and eye-popping special effects?

This is a cliche, but another reason why the film stays afloat (pun intended) is because of the performances. Russell Crowe brings an intensity and sincerity to Noah that’s necessary for us to believe in the character, but he’s also complex and far from a saint. Jennifer Connelly again does a great job of playing Crowe’s supportive and stoic wife, bringing back memories of her Oscar-winning performance in A Beautiful Mind. Emma Watson is all grown up and plays their adopted daughter, while her love interest from Perks of Being a Wallflower, Percy Jackson aka Logan Lerman, plays Noah’s horny son, who just wants to “get married” before he is wiped from the face of the planet. They’re both somewhat annoying, but they serve their purpose. Ray Winstone, on the other hand, gets the meaty role as the film’s primary protagonist, Tubal-Cain, who wants to steal Noah’s Ark for himself.

On the whole, Noah is probably not what people envisioned when they first heard the film was being made, but if you can keep an open mind you might come away pleasantly surprised. The story on which the film is based has always been one of the more implausible tales of the Bible, and instead of taking on the difficult task of trying to make it more “realistic”, Darren Aronofsky just ran with it, creating a wild, crazy, trippy yet thoughtful fantasy experience that even non-believers can take something out of.

3.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Man of Steel (2013) (2D)

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Every Superman movie comes with unreasonable expectations. We already saw how the 2006 Superman Returns directed by Bryan Singer and starring Brandon Routh (whatever happened to his career?) turned out when it tried to reboot the franchise with a more serious, thoughtful take on the Superman mythology. It wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was, but no matter which way you look at it, the film was a bitter disappointment.

And so I was somewhat apprehensive about yet another reboot, the long-awaited Man of Steel headed by Zack Snyder, the man who gave us 300 and Watchmen, two flawed films  I really enjoyed. Snyder is supposedly a massive Superman geek who knows the universe inside out. Coupled with his unique visual flair and penchant for relentless action, it seemed like a good fit. Indeed, the initial trailers and the pre-release word of mouth were promising.

Having now watched the film and given some time digest, I have to admit I still found Man of Steel a disappointment — albeit one that was very interesting (especially in the first half) and had a lot of positives going for it.

One of the biggest positives is Henry Cavill, formerly the unluckiest man in Hollywood (having just lost out on the lead role in Superman Returns to Brandon Routh, Casino Royale to Daniel Craig, and Twilight to Shovelface Pattinson),. Cavill is perfect as Clark Kent/Superman. Apart from being superhumanly handsome and buffed out of his mind, he exudes a vulnerability that at times reminded me of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Nolan, by the way, served as a producer on Man of Steel.

Secondly, a problem with any Superman movie is that everyone knows the plot, so kudos to Snyder for making an origins story that covers some things we have not seen before, or at least not done in a way we’ve already seen before. I’m no Superman expert, but I understand there are quite a few subtle adjustments to the story, characters and narrative progression that made the film feel familiar but fresh.

The best parts of the film, surprisingly (or not surprisingly), are where Superman is out of his suit (which made the controversial decision to keep the underwear inside this time), the bits where he is learning who he is and how to control his powers. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane do a magnificent job as Clark Kent’s parents, stealing the show with the most human and emotional portions of the movie.

So the first half of Man of Steel is brilliant, dare I say almost Nolan-esque. The second half, when the villain, Zod, played by the brilliant Michael Shannon, arrives on Earth — well, that’s when things start to unravel and the film morphs into your more conventional superhero affair…except that it goes on for far too long and the carnage is so overboard that it all becomes numbing and dull. OK, maybe “dull” is taking it too far, but the tension and excitement was certainly not commensurate to the number of buildings being blown to pieces.

That said, the special effects were very good, and it wasn’t easy distinguishing between what’s real and what’s CGI. Some of the Krypton technology was pretty cool too, a clever divergence from the typical alien technology you might have seen in the past.

I like Amy Adams, but I never really liked Lois Lane in this one. Her relationship with Superman didn’t feel close enough to warrant some of the interactions between them. It was like we had to accept that there was chemistry between them (when there wasn’t) just because she’s Lois Lane. Adams is good, but the character felt lacking.

As for Russell Crowe as Jor-El, I have to admit he is pretty good in a “I’m Russell Crowe, the greatest f*&%ing actor in the world!” kind of way. I didn’t expect he’d have so much screen time either.

I sound more negative about Man of Steel than I should be, but only because my expectations were so high. The cast and the first half of the film were super but for whatever reason the storytelling in the second half lacked the emotional depth that would have made it a great film. And it was unnecessarily long. All things considered though, it is a solid Superman flick that is clearly better than Superman Returns, but not quite what I believe it was trying to achieve — ie, Dark Knight territory.  Perhaps the planned sequel(s) can get there.

3.5 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Broken City (2013)

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In a nutshell, Broken City is a barely average thriller with a super cast. Marky Mark Wahlberg is a former New York cop turned private investigator. The city’s mayor, played by Russell Crowe, hires him to dig up some dirt on his wife, played by Catherine Zeta Jones, in the lead up to his re-election campaign against a wealthy but inexperienced opponent played by Barry Pepper (it’s been a while since he was the sniper in Saving Ryan’s Privates). And Wahlberg’s long-term girlfriend, Natalie Martinez (Death Race, End of Watch), happens to be an aspiring actress who just landed her first feature role.

As you would expect, nothing is really as it seems. Everyone has a past and a secret and the stakes gradually get higher and higher until it all comes to a head. The end.

I may sound unenthusiastic about Broken City but it’s actually not that bad. There’s nothing new about the corruption-centered, politically driven plot, including all the expected twists and turns, but there is enough drama and tension to keep the film afloat for it’s 109-minute running time (a suitable length for a film of this kind). And it’s always good to see confident heavyweights and Academy Award winners like Crowe and Jones strutting their stuff.

That said, the standout of the film was not any of the big stars, but Alona Tal, who plays Whalberg’s sassy secretary. The cute banter between the two resulted in the film’s most enjoyable scenes.

On the other hand, there were parts of the film that felt somewhat rough around the edges. A few characters, their reactions and interactions didn’t quite feel authentic. Flaws probably more attributable to the script than the stylish direction of Allen Hughes (From Hell, The Book of Eli — though those were along with his brother Albert).

I came into this movie thinking that it was going to be a gritty cop drama in the vein of Training Day or Street Kings, but it wasn’t anywhere as heavy duty as those films. At the end of the day, the best way to describe Broken City is to call it an adequate, occasionally enjoyable mystery drama that doesn’t break any new ground. There’s nothing horribly wrong with it but there’s also nothing that really stands out either, meaning it’s likely to be one of those films no one will remember in a few years.

3 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Les Misérables (2012)

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I’m sorry, but Les Misérables is overrated. Or perhaps more accurately, it just wasn’t for me.

Director Tom Hooper, coming off his 2011 Oscars triumph with The King’s Speech, appeared to have a winner on his hands. One of the most beloved musicals of all-time. The likable singing and dancing Hugh Jackman as the protagonist Jean Valjean. Probably the hottest actress on the planet right now, Anne Hathaway, to play poor Fantine and sing the classic “I Dreamed a Dream.” Amanda Seyfried. Russell Crowe. Even Helena Bonham Carter and Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen). It was a sure hit and an Oscar certainty.

But Les Misérables ended up getting mixed reviews from critics, and I find myself siding with those who didn’t fall for its charm. Those who love the musical will love this film no matter what, but I  personally found it to be an exhausting and often dull experience that I couldn’t really get into until it was almost over. Technically, the film is supposedly quite a remarkable achievement, with spectacular sets, strong performances and a lot of long single takes and live singing (rather than recorded in post-production like most other musicals). But really, who cares about all of that if the film isn’t any good in the end?

I had never seen a stage production of the musical so I’ll assume there are others who aren’t familiar with the plot. The story is set in 1815 and Jackman’s Valjean is a thief who is paroled by Crowe’s ruthless prison guard Javert after years of imprisonment. Basically, Valjean decides to turn his life around and be a good guy and Javert can’t seem to let go of the past. It’s a miserable time to be alive (hence the title) and the remainder of the film focuses on the struggles of the masses, Jackman trying to be good, and Crowe not letting him. It goes on for years and years.

The biggest problem with Les Misérables is that 99.9% of all vocal interactions between characters is sung. There is essentially no dialogue except a stray word here or there. As a result, we get a lot of long singing monologues where we have to listen really carefully to the lyrics (which is not always clear) just to figure out what the heck is going on.

That can get annoying and takes time to get used to, but fine, it’s a musical, so I get that. What bothered me more was that most of this talk-singing was awful to listen to. Not that the actors’ voices were bad — it’s just that there’s no real tune or melody. It just sounds like a bunch of people playing a lame game where they have to sing everything and are making up the tune as they go along. It’s really monotonous and challenges the audience not to tune out, so to speak, after a little while.

Yes, there is a handful of REAL musical numbers that are pretty good, with Hathaway’s much-lauded “I Dreamed a Dream” number being the highlight, as well as Carter and Borat’s “Master of the House” (which I was familiar with through that Seinfeld episode with Elaine’s dad and Jerry’s inside-out coat), but these are few and far in between. The vast majority of the film was dominated by this crappy talk-singing or sing-talking and I just could not stand it.

The performances were good, I’ll admit that, but was Hathaway’s performance really that good? Oscar-favourite good? I personally think it’s a little overrated, especially considering (spoiler alert!)  she only has a few minutes of screen time. Then again, Judi Dench won for something like 9 minutes of acting in Shakespeare in Love, so why the heck not?

I do, on the other hand, have to defend Russell Crowe a little bit here. Crowe has been panned for his singing, but I thought he was perfectly adequate. A little wooden, perhaps, but he’s freaking Pavarotti compared to Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia.

Anyway, Les Misérables turned out to be a huge disappointment. It probably would have been great as a stage show, and Hooper has basically shot an extravagant stage show on film, but that’s why we have different media formats. I finally got into the story and the characters towards the latter part of the film’s third act, but by then it was too little too late.

2 stars out of 5

PS: Dang, the trailer made the film look so awesome. If only it really was.

Movie Review: The Next Three Days (2010)

When I first saw the preview for The Next Three Days, the new thriller written and directed by Paul Haggis (the phenomenal award-winning screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), I thought it was going to be a cross between Prison Break and three seasons of 24 condensed into a 122-minute film (three days = 72 hours, get it?).

Well, it wasn’t exactly like that, but The Next Three Days was still very very good.  Besides, Russell Crowe is no Jack Bauer or Michael Scofield.

Anyway, Crowe plays John Brennan, a community college professor and husband of Lara Brennan, played by Elizabeth Banks.  Without giving away too much, Lara is accused of a heinous crime, and John, the loving husband and father, is faced with a life-changing decision.  Will he risk everything to save her?  Will he even stand a chance?

Needless to say, Crowe is brilliant, as he always is.  He is in just about every scene, and he brings Brennan to life with a versatile performance that traverses a full range of emotions.  Brennan is neither a genius nor a soldier, but his determination and courage make what happens in this film less implausible than it would otherwise seem.  More than half the film follows Brennan around as he contemplates what he must do and how he will go about doing it.  There’s a lot of surveillance, trial and error, and learning from mistakes.  It’s actually quite refreshing to see how a seemingly ordinary man goes about planning an elaborate scheme and the practical obstacles he must overcome to succeed.

Elizabeth Banks is an underrated actress, and she does a good job here, but at a young-looking 36 she seems a little mismatched for the 46 year-old Crowe.  It’s a weird combination because they also have a very young son and are a very affectionate couple — it’s nobody’s fault (maybe except for the casting agent), but something about their relationship that doesn’t feel quite right.  Maybe it’s just me.

The Next Three Days is ultimately a slow-burner about one man’s single-minded determination to save his wife at any cost.  There are lots of ups and downs in the first half as Brennan finds his feet before the action really picks up in the second.  It’s more of an intellectual thriller as opposed to a white-knuckle action blockbuster, but I like it better this way.  I was intrigued the entire way because Haggis made sure there were always unanswered questions, though I think it was probably 20 minutes too long.  And I didn’t think it was necessary in the end to reveal as much as it did so that everything is tied up neatly — some things are better left to the audience’s imagination.  But again, maybe that’s just me.

On the whole, a nice, well-made thriller with solid dramatic elements and top notch performances.  I enjoyed it a lot.

3.75 stars out of 5

PS: Liam Neeson in a very short and rather distracting cameo.

Movie Review: Robin Hood (2010)

I went into the latest Russell Crowe-Ridley Scott film, Robin Hood, knowing relatively little about what kind of movie it was going to be, considering it is, after all, a “blockbuster”.

What I can say is that while Robin Hood is pretty good, it’s certainly no Gladiator.

I had heard that this new depiction of the iconic hero was panned for “pretending” to be historically accurate when it wasn’t, and the film had eschewed all the merriness that made Robin and his men were famous for.  Accordingly, compared to previous renditions of Robin Hood, this one was dull and lacking in fun.

I don’t agree with that.  Frankly, I couldn’t care less how historically accurate this new Robin Hood is, as long as it is compelling and entertaining to watch.  And why must all Robin Hood films be confined to merry men in tights who sing and dance all day?  Ridley Scott decided to deliver a more serious, gritty and “realistic” vision of the folktale hero, and I don’t have a problem with that.  He can do whatever he wants as long as the result is a good movie.

However, that’s not to say Scott and Crowe hit the bulls-eye with Robin Hood.  Don’t get me wrong, the film does have its positives, namely, the performances and the action.

Russell Crowe brings his Maximus charm and brooding presence to Robin Longstride (aka Hood), making him a sound hero; Cate Blanchett was fantastic was Lady Marion, as was Max Von Sydow as her father-in-law, Walter Loxley; Mark Strong shows once again that he can be a superb villain, and Oscar Isaac does a fine job as the surprising King John.

The action sequences are also done very well, with the best moments coming during the initial siege scene and the final climatic battle.  It’s not quite Lord of the Rings, but Scott manages to capture that epic scale battle feeling (for the most part) by thrusting you into the middle of the action.

Having said that, it still felt like something was missing.  The film is I suppose a prequel to the Robin Hood legend, in the same way that Batman Begins was for Bruce Wayne.  But with this Robin Hood, it didn’t feel like there was any character transformation — at the start he was a good archer and an honest man who believed in justice.  By the end, he was essentially still the same guy, just with different surrounding circumstances.

Furthermore, while the film didn’t feel particularly long at 140 minutes, I felt as though not a whole lot happened during the running time.  I suppose that means I wanted more.

3.5 stars out of 5!

[PS: I don’t get all the hoopla about Russell’s accent.  Is it really that big of a deal?  Come one, at least he tried, unlike some other Robin Hoods of the past, cough cough Mr Costner…I’d much rather everyone talk about the feral kids in the movie — what the heck was the deal with that?]