Robin Hood (2010)

After checking the reviews on Friday, the first three I read were pretty bad and didn’t have many good things to say at all. And after a few people chiming in on facebook, my better half saying it’s Russell Crowe, and the fact that I had some movie cash from Apollo 13 bluray…OK…I will go ahead and go.

Ok, I am guessing everyone here knows the story of Robin Hood as there are probably more movies about this character than any other. This movie focuses on how Robin Hood came to be, From the Crusades in France, the journey home and what happens upon his return. Russell Crowe (Gladiator, The Insider), well, is just kind of there on screen as Robin Hood. He does what is needed of him, but nothing really shows off what he is capable of as an actor.  Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Elizabeth) is of course Marion. She probably has the best performance of the entire cast, but again like Crowe, not near what she is capable of. The cast is rounded out with Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Minority Report), William Hurt (Dark City, A History of Violence) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes).

Ok, after many reviews, some very good, some very bad….what did I think of Ridley Scott;s (Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner) attempt at Robin Hood? Well, I thought it was just that, an attempt. Actually I thought the story was good, acting wasn’t terrible, and had they titled the movie The Archer and the King of England, I would have liked it. To me this had very few elements of an actual Robin Hood movie, other than characters names. we all know what Robin Hood is about…Right? Lets all say it together…..

He steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Only once did this idea make it into the film, and was quickly done with bags of grain, not even money or gold. Not once did they hide out in Sherwood Forest. Only in the end did Robin Hood do something outstanding with a bow and arrow, again another element of a Robin Hood movie that everyone wants to see were missing. Actually the movie ended where most audiences wanted it to begin. I know that was the way I felt.

There is another element to think about though, that could change my mind about the film entirely. A sequel. It was left open and at a point where you could now make a movie and call it Robin Hood and have it be what everyone was wanting out of this first film. When first seeing The Fellowship of The Ring for the first time, I was pretty ho-hum about the whole thing, but now seeing it and how it fits in, I like it much better. That could be the case here. Although at least with The Fellowship of the Ring, you knew there were two more films coming. If there is another Robin Hood, I may change my mind, but I would feel almost used, in the fact that I put in 2 hours and 20 minutes of my time just so Ridley Scott could set up the next film, which is the film I wanted  the first time. My final thought, if you do venture out to see this one, pretend like the title is The Archer and the King and you will be fine. Don’t expect to see much of what you know as Robin Hood, that is nonexistent.

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Iron Man 2

For me the summer blockbuster movies have begun. Iron Man 2 being the first one to hit the big screen. Without giving too much away, the movie is about a disgruntled russian, Ivan,  who is setting out to take down Tony Stark. Also there is a story line about Justin Hammer, a competitor in the arms race, trying to obtain Stark technology to create his own Iron Man to sell to the 4 armed forces division. In the simplest terms, those are the major plot lines.

The film has the usual cast of characters and a few new faces. Robert Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Zodiac) is of course Tony Stark. This is a role that seems very comfortable for him, a rich cocky superstar. Although I thought Downey Jr nailed the character, the scenes with the over the top technology was a bit much. He spent way too much time pushing buttons on hologram screens. Just way too much of that for me. Yes it showed money and wealth, and he can have anything he wants and any technology he wants, but not much else. The story did not benefit from it.

One of the new faces, Scarlett Johansson (The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Natalie. Who seems to be the new secretary for Stark Industries, then seems to turn into somewhat of her own superhero. Really she is nothing more than a cute face answering the phones until the extreme curveball with the character. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) plays Ivan/Whiplash. Nothing really special to write home about on his performance, got the job done, but seemed to be just going through the lines. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Traffic) is adequate as Lt. James Rhodes, but like all of these characters, seriously lacks character development. The one character that I thought was outstanding was Justin Hammer, played perfectly by Sam Rockwell. (Moon, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) Just as Downey Jr. plays the cocky rock-star, Rockwell has a nach for the slimy greaseball character.

Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors) returns as Pepper Potts. Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, Pulp Fiction), Gary Shandling (What Planet Are You From?) and director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made) also make appearances in the new film.

So, what did I think? The film really lacked in story in my opinion and seemed to go all over the place as far as a direction. It got to be very slow in the middle acts. This one just did not live up to the first Iron Man, which I really loved. Unless you are a diehard Iron Man fan, my advice is wait and rent this one. The film was entertaining, and had some nice comedic moments, but had it’s fair share of flaws as well.

Sherlock Holmes

What an onslaught of Holiday movies. Sure Hope I can keep caught up. The first film to cross off the list is Sherlock Holmes. I wasn’t sure what this film would be like with Guy Ritchie at the helm of a mainstream film. Better known for his edgy indie films like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, you wonder if he can pull off appealing to the masses for a holiday big budget film. Surprisingly, he does just fine! He still carries a lot of his “indie” style into Sherlock Holmes, especially the way he reveals information in the story and his way of cutting the fight scenes together.

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Wonder Boys) is a perfect choice to play Holmes. The seeming brilliant, yet spaced out with an over active imagination, is right up Downey Jr.’s alley, having already played a similar confident egotistical crime fighter in Iron Man. Another great choice in casting is Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Gattaca, Road to Perdition) as the level-headed sidekick, Dr. Watson. Law’s demeanor plays well off the sporadic off-the-wall ramblings of Holmes. The one casting move I didn’t really care for was that of Mark Strong (Body of Lies, RocknRolla)  as the villanous Lord Blackwood. Although he looked menacing, I wanted a little more from the character and maybe a  could have brought that. Rachel McAdams (State of Play) is also in the film, but to me was really a non factor in the film, really not offering too much when she was on-screen, but not taking anything away either.

In all, I would recommend this film. It is worth seeing for sure. Robert Downey Jr is wonderful to watch, having already been recognized for his performance with a Best Actor nomination for a Golden Globe. I would have liked a bit more information during the film, more of the Sherlock Holmes studious observations as they took place rather than leaving most all of them for trying to make a clever reveal later on. Still, if that is the only complaint, it is a very good film and good holiday movie fun. Next holiday film on the list, Up In The Air!