Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves

****

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Though the legend of Robin Hood has been re-imagined more times than David Bowie's wardrobe, each new incarnation seems to bring something fresh and exciting. Hoping to do just that, director Kevin Reynolds and his creative team decided it was about time the world’s most famous archer (fans of William Tell who are you kidding?) was introduced to a new age of cinemagoers. Minus the emerald tights, of course.

Having finally returned home after years fighting in the Crusades, young English solider Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) finds that England is under the tyranical rule of The Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman). Whilst trying to win back former sweetheart Marion (Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Robin decides that the only way to stop the Sheriff is to become an outlaw himself...

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Reynolds and co have opted for a decidedly more serious and sombre Robin Hood than the one generations past will remember so fondly. Though some critics have bemoaned this approach, it's the more logical way to go given that poor Robin has just endured a brutal war where many friends died, followed by years in a torturous dungeon and then returned home to find his father dead. After that, it's doubtful he'd want to put his glad rags on and party till all hours with Bryan Adams crooning in the background.

While this is true, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves still manages to be a very entertaining motion picture. Sure it's bloody and overly violent at times, but the danger is perfectly balanced with fun during action sequences (such as Robin swinging through windows, catapulting over walls, soaring up to ceilings on cut rope) while a rousing score from Michael Kaman moves proceedings along at a jolly pace. In addition, its also hard not to get caught up in the camaraderie of the Merry Men’s exploits with some colourful characters and a treehouse community so magical you'll want to emigrate to Nottingham's Sherwood Forest.

In the titular role, though sporting a mullet that warrants its own title credit, Costner effectively blends hand-slicing pathos with some nice comic relief to forge a likeable and memorable Prince Of Thieves. While some will scoff at Robin Hood having an American accent (not to mention Sean Connery playing an English king), surely Costner husking “this is English courage” in true Yankee tone is preferable to one of those duff accents that take you out of the movie.

In support, while the melon-cracking birth-aiding Morgan Freeman stands out even as a side-kick (he’s just that good), this is the Alan Rickman show. Stealing scenes from richly-talented actors and giving humour to the poor audience, Rickman has all the best lines (including “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!”), does a wonderful line in petty and finds the perfect level of scenery-chewing.

Overall, despite some obvious cheese and more than a few slices of ham, this is popcorn of the best kind. When all is said and done, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is one movie that hits the target.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2008
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Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves packshot
Kevin Costner stars as the noble rogue in this reimagining of the Nottinghamshire legend.

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Writer: Pen Densham, Pen Densham, John Watson

Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman, Michael McShane, Brian Blessed, Michael Wincott, Nick Brimble, Soo Drouet

Year: 1991

Runtime: 143 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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