I remember I was in a history class in college and we spent one class entirely on Robin Hood. That’s because America loves the Robin Hood story. It’s a classic underdog tale of when one man usurped a much more powerful nation and mirrors America’s own independence from England. I think that’s why they decided to have all the villains in this movie speak with English accents while all the heroes speak in American accents despite this movie taking place entirely in what is Great Britain today. I also feel this movie is more than a little to blame for why there are so many villains in American movies with British accents.
I feel like if you’ve seen any Robin Hood films you’ve seen them all. This wasn’t the first movie based on the Robin Hood story but it was probably the one to start many of the beats we all know from any retelling of it since then. Prince John usurps the throne while Good King Richard is off crusading, Robin Hood shows up and says that’s bad and shows his archery skills by leisurely killing everyone but Prince John out of respect and plot convenience, Robin Hood fights Little John on a bridge and then recruits him, he meets Friar Tuck and they get drunk and party, Maid Marian is seduced to the side of the rebellion, archery contest, Robin is rescued from his execution, huge battle, King Richard comes back, the end. Seeing it once again here just made me think, “oh, this is where all those other Robin Hood movies are ripping it off from.” But this is probably ripping it off of a silent movie since this is, at least, the 7th time Robin Hood had been seen on screen. So it’s now some endless loop of ripping off the same story, repackaged to match the zeitgeist of the time. I don’t know what that says about hollywood other than people seem to really like the Robin Hood story.
The archery contest is kind of a total ass-pull in this movie. Maybe it is in every Robin Hood movie…Hmmm. Anyway, the idea is this: Robin Hood is the best archer ever, so if we had an archery contest, whoever wins would have to be Robin Hood and we’d execute them. How do they know Robin Hood will show up? Why because Maid Marion will be giving the prize to the winner! And then it totally works! What?! It’s not like Robin has a problem showing up and stealing Marion away anytime he gets the chance and she’s obviously not in any danger on either side. It’s just weird.
The outfits are a bit ridiculous. I get that this is a big budget, shot on every camera in the Technicolor studios and they wanted their clothes to show up, but the way every character is dressed is makes everyone kind of look like a cartoon character.
The music works for the film, though some might find it about as cartoony and on-the-nose as the character costumes. The composer did win the first Oscar for Best Music given to a composer for this film, not that they didn’t have the Best Music category before, just they didn’t give them to composers before.
Action is top notch, tons of stunts and fights. I also really like Errol Flynn’s quips as he fights or flirts with Marion or really says anything to anyone as his dialogue is probably the best in the film.
The 3rd act drags a bit, spending too much time meandering on nothing, literally nothing, before the climax.
Why you should watch it before you die: If you haven’t seen any version of Robin Hood before you should watch this as it might be the best one.
+6.5: Decent adventure flick
-1: Archery contest makes no sense
+1: Good acting and dialogue
+1: Good action
-0.5: Minor pointlessness in third act