In Sherwood Forest's medieval times, many of the menfolk had left to fight with King Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades, leaving their women behind. One such woman was Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) who finds herself battling the robbers of the area, as tonight when her grain store is raided, leaving her nothing to plant come the spring - how she wished her husband, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge), would return but he was still battling away on the Continent. As was Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), a loyal archer in the English army who will grow in importance as the dark forces at work begin to draw their strength...
The films based around the Robin Hood legend have largely been that, tales of legend and not based around historical fact. Certainly most paid lip service to some form of period atmosphere, but the enjoyment from even the lesser of them was that it was really some genuine English folk tale being conveyed, not some drama documentary. This was perhaps where director Ridley Scott's version of the story went wrong, for out went all the stuff you'd expect from a Robin Hood movie aside from some of the names and locations, and in came a whole new origin story which did not so much suggest Scott and Crowe's most successful collaboration Gladiator, but the movie which reignited interest in historicals, Braveheart.
Although acclaimed and Oscar-winning in its day, the Mel Gibson ego trip was a crashing bore and a poor template to base a Robin Hood film upon, and so it was that this too became a crashing bore which rankled with those who thought that the script by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris had been a far better proposition than what had occurred when Scott had Brian Helgeland re-write it, the main idea having been a sympathetic Sheriff of Nottingham, who as he appears here played by Matthew Macfadyen barely registered as a significant character. So much for Hollywood's fondness for re-writing their properties into more audience-friendly efforts, as here anything that might have been interesting had been ironed out to create a tale which revolved around some bloke called Robin.
They could have changed the names and nobody would have been any the wiser of the origins, it was simply yet another historical epic which could have sprung from the heyday of such things around the middle of the twentieth century for all its relevance. There was an interesting mix of accents here, and that was just in Crowe's performance - his vocal stylings were a notable sticking point for British viewers, with the dread spectre of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins being evoked, but then you could argue that Robin had been around so many different people their voices were rubbing off on him. Just don't suggest that to the star, who would not have been impressed, but the accent issue was only one of many problems historians would have with this movie.
That said, not many general audiences sat checking every element against their real life equivalent, but with something so po-faced and presenting itself as a deeply serious work, it was tempting to want to deflate its pomposity. When it ended with King John (Oscar Isaac) not signing the Magna Carta, which was pretty much the only act he was remembered for even among those who didn't know what the Magna Carta was anyway, then you knew everything here was aimed for self-righteous effects other than what it might have portrayed itself as - John burns the document, so you know Kings are bad, don't trust the authorities kids, and so forth. Elsewhere Mark Strong gave a decent account of himself as Godfrey, a cardboard villain he breathed a little life into, but everyone else veered between speechifying or less advisedly, comedy in the coarse acting mould (Little John's name becomes a subject of innuendo, for example). Not a disaster then, Scott was too professional for that, but deadly dull even with the battles. Music, including Irish folk tunes (near enough, I suppose) by Marc Streitenfeld.
Talented, prolific British director whose background in set design and advertising always brings a stylised, visually stunning sheen to often mainstream projects. Scott made his debut in 1977 with the unusual The Duellists, but it was with his next two films - now-classic sci-fi thrillers Alien and Blade Runner - that he really made his mark. Slick fantasy Legend and excellent thriller Someone to Watch Over Me followed, while Thelma and Louise proved one of the most talked-about films of 1991. However, his subsequent movies - the mega-budget flop 1492, GI Jane and the hopeless White Squall failed to satisfy critics or find audiences.
Scott bounced back to the A-list in 2000 with the Oscar-winning epic Gladiator, and since then has had big hits with uneven Hannibal, savage war drama Black Hawk Down and his Robin Hood update. Prometheus, tentatively sold as a spin-off from Alien, created a huge buzz in 2012, then a lot of indignation. His Cormac McCarthy-penned thriller The Counselor didn't even get the buzz, flopping badly then turning cult movie. Exodus: Gods and Kings was a controversial Biblical epic, but a success at the box office, as was sci-fi survival tale The Martian. Alien Covenant was the second in his sci-fi prequel trilogy, but did not go down well with fans. Brother to the more commercial, less cerebral Tony Scott.