Here's an early review from my pal Mindless Kirby. I'm skeptical, but then again I am old and rather more than just a tad jaded...Oh, and the review is spoiler-free.
The new ROBIN HOOD might be one of the best prequels of all time, if not the best. This movie does so many refreshing things that it I feel if it weren't for two or three minor little things, this might have been the best movie of the past decade. Personally, I feel that ROBIN HOOD is far better then Ridley Scott's last historical movie, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, and because of similar topics these two movies can be watched in succession to one another, thanks to KINGDOM OF HEAVEN taking place during the beginning of the Crusades and ROBIN HOOD being set during the end(ish) of the Crusades, both being similar in style and story.
The narrative itself is very good and quite well done. I cannot think of a recent movie that featured a love story that was the main point of the film and the story deeply revolved around it, rather than just being a tacked on side-thought. I mean, my favorite action movie is COMMANDO (1985). I'm a guy who hates romance in his action movies and I loved the romance in this movie, so that should mean something. The love interest was a woman who could handle her own, but also knows her place within her society, something that most movies forget to notice about this time period, when a little thing called "women's rights" weren't such a welcome idea back then. The pacing of the movie was fantastic. All scenes were perfectly timed, never too much talking, never too much action, and never too much humor. There was simply never a boring scene. While the movie does feel a little long at times, my attention was never lost.
Now, about Robin himself. Just to let you know, the only Robin Hood I remember is Disney's animated version, with a fox taking the role of our skilled archer. If you're going to see this movie expecting a man in green tights robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, then "dis ain't dat!!!" Instead, we are treated to a Robin Hood who is more like William Wallace in BRAVEHEART, with a wee little dash of Beowulf. Now, that might sound like a bad thing, but it's not. While the trailers don't do the movie justice, I assure you this movie is fantastic. Robin only uses the bow and arrow about four times in the whole movie, instead using swords and hammers, proving that he can lay down the whoopass with anything, just that he prefers the bow and arrow over other weapons. He doesn't even get the name Robin Hood and his iconic clothing until literally the last three minutes of the movie. It's very similar to how everyone went to see REVENGE OF THE SITH for the big Darth Vader reveal, only for him to stop being a whiny little bitch and become Vader at the very end of the movie, except this is done better. And it's a better movie... Actually, forget the STAR WARS analogy.
The soundtrack sounds mostly like parts taken from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and a signature similar to the siren wail you hear during Morricone's score for THE ECSTASY OF GOLD is audible several times in the movie, giving you the goosebumps of knowing something very epic is about to happen.
The casting was great. Crowe takes the character and totally owns it, and all the minor characters are fantastic too. The comedy relief Friar was played by Mark Addy, was also Fred Flintstone in the somewhat watchable movie FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS. (INTERRUPTION FROM BUNCHE: sorry, but I can't sit by and allow VIVA ROCK VEGAS to be found in the same sentence with the term "somewhat watchable" without voicing an objection. That movie sucked from start to finish, as did its predecessor, Halle Berry in a cavegirl outfit notwithstanding.) He brought comedy into the movie with a few one-liners and funny actions, but unlike someone like Chris Tucker, he knew when to shut up. He wasn't an annoying character who was nothing but jokes. The villains weren't just characters that you're told to hate; you hate them because they're despicable, truly evil, and feel very real. All the characters added depth to the movie, were very well written and helped story advance...which is what characters are supposed to do. Is it weird that I said that? Or is it weird that there are no other movies currently playing that are doing this? This should be standard in movies. ALL YOU FILMMAKERS TAKE NOTE!!! Character should be a given. If you are adding character and story on as a secondary addition to a movie, you have failed as a filmmaker. It shouldn't be so "new" and "radical" to realize that movies are more then just gimmicky concepts with special effects budgets.
In closing, all I'm going to say is I've never wanted to see a sequel to a movie as badly as I want to see one for this flick. ROBIN HOOD was a really good movie to be enjoyed by all who like the action genre. It's really good. Like really, really good. Like skip-school/work-to-see-it good.
Odds of this movie making your DVD collection: 2/1
Odds of this movie being considered "classic:" 5/1
Odds of this movie winning Oscar for best soundtrack: 1/1
Odds of this movie being #1 opening weekend: 1/1
Odds of LARPers using this movie as a bible: ugh, don't make me thing about it
Odds of this movie being compared to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy: only by the insane
Odds of this movie having a sequel: Pretty please? What if I hold my breath?