Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood 2010

In this latest retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, we have Russel Crowe as Robin Longstride who finds his way back home to England after ten years fighting in the Crusades.

Upon his arrival he assumes the identity of a fellow soldier who was killed, and sets about doing Robin Hood type things while wooing the Lady Marian, the widow of the man he's masquerading as.

All is not well in the kingdom as the people, and nobles, suffer under the King's cruel and confiscatory taxation policies. This is where the Robin Longstride becomes the eventual Robin of the Hood. He steals from the King, battles a French invasion, impresses The Lady, and becomes a hero of the people... all within two hours.
Not a bad list of accomplishments if you stop to think about it.

A little warning: this is not the jaunty, feather hatted Robin Hood of previous legend. This is more of the gritty, leather and chain mailed, mud soaked Robin we never heard about about. Sort of a prequel to the installments. He doesn't become Robin 'Hood' til the end.

The battle scenes are epically filmed, violent, very much along the lines of Gladiator and other such movies. Many scenes seem borrowed. I was reminded at various times of Excaliber, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Flesh and Blood... the list goes on to the point that I can't remember them all.

And that is part of the problem. Though every scene in the movie is well done and gritty in it's realism, I was never able to immerse my thoughts into what was happening on the screen before me. I couldn't 'lose' myself in it.
Instead, all it did was remind me of other stuff I had already seen. Something about the flow not quite flowing. Maybe it's hard to get swept away in stagnant waters?
All I can say is that the sense of fantasy and romance that you'd expect from a medieval epic just didn't spark the fires of my imagination.

Another bitch: I understand the need to have medieval Englishmen speak in a fucked up manner of accented, poetic English. But that shit don't work when you can't hear them clearly. Too much cryptic mumbling of fucked up English made some dialogue hard to understand.
I'd say it killed much of the movie. Maybe that's where the magic and imagination went? Too much effort spent trying to decipher the code of fucked up English?
I don't know. I just know that I was wishing there were some subtitles along the bottom so I could keep up what they were saying.
I see plenty of subtitled stuff, so I'm used to gazing along the bottom, and I found myself looking for it several times, and then had to remind myself that I wasn't in one of 'those' movies. But it felt like it. What's that tell ya?

Overall, it's decently average, but a welcomed diversion from the current discharge of comic book/super hero crap that's been haunting the silver screen the last couple of years.


RW said...

isn't it Russell Crowe?

Gino said...

oops, how did i f that up?

RW said...

I don't know when the "gritty/dirty" middle ages movies started but it's as much a cliche as the feathered hats & tights by now. Probably more realistic I guess. But everything is so gray now.

Gino said...

they started about 20+ yrs ago. Flesh & Blood was among the first, if not thee first.

i've always had the thought that how does anybody really know what 'real' is when it comes to medieval. we dont have photos of the time. and very little written record survived.
i guess we just know it was dirtier than we previously imagined, so play it accordingly?

my fave will always be Excaliber, anyway.

and i dont believe the medieval commoners spoke in the way the movies make them do. very little suggests that.

RW said...

I like the Errol Flynn Robin Hood. Bright reds and greens and blue and yellow flags and people are clean and have neatly trimmed 'staches n shit? That was pretty whacked.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

So, it's about as much based on the Robin Hood story as a Law and Order cases are "ripped from the headlines?"

I don't mind going for realism, but... It's a simple bloody story!

Robin of Loxlie or Locksly or however the heck it's spelled is one of the Old Nobles of the native culture in a land that's got a lot of the New Nobles of an invader culture, the king is away at the Crusades and his brother that's minding shop is a corrupt rat-baster.
Robin is in love with the noble Lady Marian, but must fight against the evil regent. His lands are taken and he becomes a fighter for the common folks in the forest, picking up a lovable/admirable collection of easy to remember friends along the way-- Little John, Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck....

If you can't make a howlingly good film out of THAT, the problem isn't in the material.....

Hm.... Robin, Will, Tuck, John, Marian, that's a perfect five-man team.

Bike Bubba said...

Somehow Gino's comment about English accents reminds me of a REAL Robin Hood's comment "and unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with a real English accent."

(we may look like sissies.....)

kr said...

Gino, you should read the Canterbury Tales sometime ;).

(No, I haven't read many of them ... but they give a pretty decent flavor of both vernacular and high-falutin' speak in the late Middle Ages ;). That's where I picked up the word "shat," which I hardly ever get to use but it's a great word ;). )

I just got my copy of The Origins and Development of the English Language, by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo, back from my daughter's third grade teacher (to whom I handed it so she would know I wherefrom my daughter was coming with all my random home-teaching on the spelling ;) ). I love me some linguistic criticism ;).

They say, the scholars (and also the actors that play them on How to Act Shakespeare videos from the 1980s ;) ), that around the time of Shakespeare "English" sounded far more modern American than modern British, btw. So if your movie got all crazy with heavy g's and r's with some extra "eh"s on the end of a bunch of words, they were probably giving Middle English the ol' college try. Well, Ye Olde College Try ;).

kr said...

My word verification was "maces." This one is almost as pertinent, with "socklest." Huh.

Second thought--I was reading something recently about someone going back and examining all the "best" movies (those that seem to get watched again and again) and they all played out in a proportional rhythm (scene to scene), apparently very nearly perfectly, that matched a specific mathematically predictable neurological-response rhythm in like the amegdyla(?sp the emotional driver) of the human brain ... sounds like this movie's editors didn't see that report ;).

Gino said...

kr: canterbury tales? you mean those stories that were required in high school? well, damn, girl...
give me some credit.
i did go to high school.

but who wrote them? one of the literate class, of course.
most folks were not literate at the time, and how often does the spoken word, even among the literate, reflect precise on the written?

PM Brown and President Obama can read the same speach, but i doubt these two educated men would be pronouncing those words the same way.

an aside: a couple decades ago i read where some english language retents had come to a conclusion that the speaking of Henry VIII was closer to the traditional speech pattern/accent/etc of the southern american dialect.

it makes some sense to me when i stop to think about who settled the south, versus the greater variety of peoples that settled the north
over time, a standardization appears based upon who's speaking it... and to whom.

more linguistic groups in the north would cause spoken communication to more closely follow the written form, i would think.

i never seriously studied the topic, but its one of those that make my ears perk when i hear about it.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Heh...showing your age... we didn't know ANYTHING about the Tales at my highly accredited school. >.< (Lots of time for horrible stories like "The Lottery" and such.)

That said... I vaguely remembered, and a google confirmed, that Chaucer was a trend setter for writing in the vernacular. (That is, he wrote in English, instead of French or Latin like most everyone else-- the oddness there is that he wrote it as it was spoken in London; just to confuse matters more, the copies that were made were then altered to match what worked for their area.....)

Gino said...

foxfier: i graduated in 82, from a private school. (not that it did any good.) brit lit was required.
i was educated enough to realize how cool shakespear was if you gave it a chance, and just how hard melville sucked ass, no matter what the 'smart' people said.

kr, i think, was just a year or behind me. ;)

RW said...

I remember having some bullshit by Ayn Rand required in one course in high school. It persuaded me that there was more to what she was getting at and started me down the path toward bring an avowed social Darwinist. But I woke up.

Jesus, Rand's fiction sucked monkey cock worse than Chaucer.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Gino, I graduated 19 years later.... ;^p

RW- that's the UR libertarian gal, right? Never read her stuff, but some folks I trust say she had some points. Bat-crit crazy, but had some points. Kinda like Heinlein.

Brian said...

There are two mistakes people make with Ayn Rand:

1) Not taking her seriously
2) Taking her too seriously

Gino said...

i think a lot of her fanbase is consisted of people who just think its cool to part of her fanbase.

Brian said...

I actually went to a few objectivist club meetings back when I was in college. Despite being terribly enamored with Rand and her ideas at the time (I was 18, maybe 19, OK?) I found the people in the club--almost to a one--to be some of the most repellent I'd ever met.

This led me to hypothesize that a lot of her fanbase are just assholes who like having a philosophical justification for being assholes.

That said, I am very grateful for the intellectual squeegee Rand's writing was for me when I read it. And I am equally grateful that I moved on from it.

kr said...

lu Gino ;).

halfway between you and FfS, I graduated in '92 ;) and I think only the advanced class students (yeah that's me, Future's So Bright, all of that) had to read Chaucer. Frankly, I read very little of it (and again in college), but his whole fame-causing dealio was not only the vernacular but that he tried to capture to at least some extent the different vernaculars of the classes he had exposure to. That given, your point that he was educated enough to be writing long prose coherently does mean he was composing at some level and the vernacular would probably be at best an approximation.

SsF, I missed you coming onto the internets. I suspect I will like you :) (not that you have to care of course ;) ). Same impression of Ayn Rand (had a couple of lengthy arguments with a temporary Rand-convert one year), have read some Heinlein ... liked Heinlein, even if I didn't agree with him on ... anything ... ;). And The Lottery SUCKED. I think I had to read it in jr high, high school, AND college. I'm sure it was all fancy pants highfalutin' challenging the status quo when it was written, but seriously I didn't feel like it rocked my world, I just thought it was remarkably ugly.

Hi Brian :).

Not that anyone except Gino will see that I've posted, this late in the conversation. But, there it is ;).

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I'm sure it was all fancy pants highfalutin' challenging the status quo when it was written, but seriously I didn't feel like it rocked my world, I just thought it was remarkably ugly.

*little lightbulb*

Isn't that kinda the way of a whole lot of education? I mean, we got almost nothing on who did what in wars and stuff (unless Americans did bad stuff) and spent hours...and hours... and HOURS on anything negative.

Perhaps the folks making the schooling things are trying to fill the "blanks" they feel in their education-- but forget that new generations don't have their baseline?

kr said...

! hi FfS!

soooooo true. makes-a me cahRAZY.

Spent some time the other day trying to explain to an older gent who actually lived through the Summer of Love and all that how the generations that followed didn't have his foundation and so now there are two generations (or so) who think "free" sex *is* the baseline (color me Not Impressed).

was once exposed to an argument that diligently traced the rise of Naziism (etc) to the Romanticism movement of the mid-early 1800s ... turns out if you try to declare all morality relative and no God to answer to, the logically reasonable result (lacking the previous generations' foundational moral assumptions) is self-referential glorification of what feels right combined neatly with 'if humans can make it happen it must be right to do' scientific "progress" ... and with a few residual ugly cultural traits (ubermench) tossed in, you get Naziism (yech) ... meanwhile the old people wonder how the young people got this way ...


I didn't have it too bad, on the literature in school, because in my school district, at least in the advanced classes, we got a whole bunch of very competently taught historical context, so Chaucer and Hemingway and all the other writers I otherwise would have found little reason to bother with were rendered readable.

Mid-20th-century American, like The Lottery, though?? I hate that stuff. Hated it in high school, hated it in college, hated most of it since then. Fiction, theatre, most poetry, SUCKED. Formulaic, depressing, artificially learn'ed ... TS Eliot is about as late as I can read, then I have to skip to the 80s.

The only likable American literature for 50 years, IMHO, was sci fi/fantasy. And animal stories like Rascal or Jack London's stuff. And I've recently discovered Vonnegut ... but he might count as sci fi/fantasy, actually. Magical Reality at least. There are some FASCINATING potential literature courses exploring the magical/fantasy worlds in literature ... but undoubtably by the time they are designed and implemented a new generation will be ready to yawn their way through them ;). (Another argument in favor of college being for 30 year olds and up ;). )

(Now I've actually gained a set of life context (involving WWII and the male psyche, among other things) that makes all that yucky stuff tolerable. Not likable, but at least I can understand why someone wrote it and someone else published it and millions of people bothered to read it. I think I am a little horrified. I still hate it ... I just understand it better.)

I'm waiting for a lit course that explores the feminine voice that is emerging in the last 70 years in fiction, which is in many ways different than what "defined" a "story" in the past. I think the focus on characters over plot is fairly revolutionary (choosing which details to include based around making a more complete picture of the character rather than a tighter "story" ... usually but not always telling an effective plot at the same time, but it is clearly merely a frame so we can read about the characters). (Hem hem please ignore all previous references to a Mr Chaucer, who probably somewhat disproves my "revolutionary" assertion ;).)

No way blogger will let me post this as one comment ...

kr said...

!! wow, I guess I'm less wordy than I used to be!!