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With: Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, Paul Anderson, F. Murray Abraham
Written by: Ben Chandler, David James Kelly, based on a story by Ben Chandler
Directed by: Otto Bathurst
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive references
Running Time: 116
Date: 11/20/2018

Robin Hood (2018)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Whether it's the worst Robin Hood movie ever made is up for debate, but this newest version of the classic story is all kinds of terrible, from the lazy writing to the crummy, confusing action scenes.

In Robin Hood (2018), Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) is a wealthy lord who meets the enchanting Marian (Eve Hewson) when she tries to steal his horse. They fall immediately in love, but then Robin is drafted into the army and sent to Arabia to fight in a war championed by the evil, greedy Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn).

Robin returns years later to a land ravaged by heavy taxes, and to find Marian together with Will (Jamie Dornan). John (Jamie Foxx), whose son Robin tried to save during the war, finds him and offers to train him to become a heroic thief, someone who can shake the foundations of those in charge. Pulling off several daring robberies, "The Hood" becomes a beacon of hope to the people, and as the Sheriff begins to hunt him, the people become emboldened.

The story of Robin Hood is always a good one, and seems especially relevant in a society's more trying times, but the shaky, sloppy, numbing mess turned in by director Otto Bathurst — a TV veteran making his feature debut — seems to have nothing motivating it. There's no evident burning desire to delve into the story again, only to shoot lots of things with fast-paced arrows and to occasionally blow stuff up.

Many versions of Robin Hood have been made in the past century, and the two best are arguably the Douglas Fairbanks version of 1922 and the Errol Flynn version of 1938 (and the 1973 Disney version is a sentimental favorite). Those movies were bold and cheerful and flamboyant, but the more recent trend in Robin Hood has moved more toward a depressing griminess, more like a relentless video game adaptation than anything rousing or exciting.

This Robin Hood only slavishly follows the trend, although, it quite possibly takes itself a little less seriously than its 1991 or 2010 predecessors, which is one of its few virtues. Taron Egerton is another; it's hard to say if he could have shone in a good movie, but in one this bad, he comes out ahead. Let's hope that someday, someone tries again and does right by ol' Robin.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release (with bonus DVD and digital copy) does feature extremely strong picture and sound for such a shoddy movie. Bonuses include a long, 1-hour, multi-part, studio-produced making-of featurette, called "Outlaws and Auteurs: Reshaping Robin Hood" (probably not realizing that this movie has absolutely nothing to do with "autuers"). It also includes outtakes (4 mins.), deleted scenes (8 mins.), and trailers at startup.

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