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Robin Hood (2018)  

Review: written 2018

Steampunk infused hip Robin Hood fails to engage

There are reasons to generate some good will for this movie.. nice mix of youth and experience (Taron Egerton, JamieFoxx) and an exuberant mood that clearly wants to bring Robin Hood to a new audience. The story (even as loosely based on the story as this is) is fairly indestructible. However, the desire to make it relevant and hip has only had the effect of swamping it with anachronisms, to the point it fails to be internally consistent enough to allow immersion into the story. There are clearly political overtones in places, but alongside references to Banksy and Culture Club it’s hard to know if these are supposed to be meaningful or merely pop culture references.

The story itself has enough remnants of the Robin Hood you might know, to be familiar.. Lord Robin of Locksley has been in the wars, in the Middle East – even if these look more like the Gulf War than the crusades, with devices firing bows that begin to look and feel oddly like Machine guns and street to street fighting that feels straight out of a modern Call of Duty game. He returns back to UK, to be reunited with Marion, only to find she and his estate are not as he expected. He finds he has been followed by an Arab (Jamie Foxx), and together they see how the Sherriff of Nottingham has subjugated the people with onerous taxes, and Robin is persuaded to become a thief, to put the pressure on, and maybe, win the admiration of Marion in the process.

Nottingham looks more like a Mediterranean backwater, the people are not farmers but work in mines complete with vats of molten metal and railway tracks, and the Sheriff wears a blue grey leather full length coat that would look more in place is a sci-fi rather than period movie. I can accept that for a new audience, eschewing the trappings of a period movie to infuse a steampunk vibe is an interesting idea, but the tone and design are so inconsistent it’s hard not to be jolted out of the movie every time some new anachronism comes along. The Sheriff uses fear of immigration and foreigners taking our wealth and jobs, as an excuse for more totalitarian government and higher taxes – it’s hard not to see political overtones, and when the people clash with the Sheriffs’ men it is shot more like a modern street riot of SJW’s against the police, than a medieval clash against nobility.

Taron Egerton injects welcome youth to a story becoming ever more ponderous and reverential with each telling, and Ben Mendelsohn is having a blast as the hammily nasty Sherrif, but the tone is so over the place with its Guy Ritchie style slow motion action set pieces, that its inconsistencies distract you enough from the story it’s hard to care.

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