Tag Archives: Cate Blanchett

[Review] – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

20 Dec

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Year: 2012
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Lee Pace
MPAA Rating: PG-13, extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Runtime: 169 min
IMDb Rating: 8.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Metacritic: 58

Considering the magnitude of this movie it’s fair to say this review will run longer than usual. After all, this is the start to a brand new trilogy that follows (but acts as a prequel series) one of the most successful (both commercially and critically) franchises in history. Back in 2000 Peter Jackson (then known mostly for Heavenly Creatures, a very good, low budget New Zealand film) embarked on what remains to this day one of the most ambitious film projects ever undertaken, the adaptation of the three The Lord of the Rings novels by J.R.R. Tolkien getting a whopping budget of $281 million to make the trilogy of films back-to-back-to-back during a period of 438 days.

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[Trailer] – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

19 Sep

This week is Tolkien Week, in which fans of J.R.R. Tolkien celebrate like crazy the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. It’s also the one that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. So what better way to celebrate than with the premiere of a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which you can watch below.

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Meek’s Cutoff

12 Jun

Title: Meek’s Cutoff
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Kelly Reichardt
Writer: Jonathan Raymond
Starring: 
Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson, Neal Huff, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Tommy Nelson, Will Patton
MPAA Rating: 
PG, mild violent content, brief language and smoking
Runtime: 
104 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
85%

I’m a big big fan of director Kelly Reichardt. Her debut film, River of Glass, is pretty excellent. 2006’s Old Joy, starring musician Will Oldham, is absolutely incredible and I have it ranked as my 28th favorite film of that year. And then there’s 2008’s Wendy and Lucy, which saw her working with Michelle Williams and which I have ranked as my 24th favorite film of that year, that film is pretty spectacular on so many levels. So yeah, when you are a director that has a style that’s so personal and minimalistic, one that resonates a lot with my tastes, and you see her track record being as impeccable as Ms. Reichardt’s is, then you can sure as hell be impressed.

And then there’s the matter of Michelle Williams. If I had to name my five favorite living actresses, I wouldn’t hesitate to put her name in the conversation, next to Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Diane Keaton. I seriously love her, and every performance she gives I find to be pretty much perfect. Hell, even her breakout turn as Jen Lindley on TV’s Dawson’s Creek was seriously well acted, and her film work since, in films like The Station Agent, Brokeback Mountain, Wendy and Lucy, Synecdoche, New York and, especially, last year’s sublime Blue Valentine, has been a thing of beauty, a really thrilling journey to witness from film to film, the maturation of an actress, a woman who’s barely over thirty and yet I still have no doubt in my mind to proclaim her as one of the greatest, I just love her.

So, you see, if I liked Ms. Reichardt’s previous collaboration with Ms. Williams, you can be sure as hell about me being insanely excited for this one. And they didn’t disappoint, Meek’s Cutoff is another stellar addition to Ms. Reichardt’s body of work, and yet another spectacular performance from Ms. Williams, who you can tell is bound to get an Oscar sooner rather than later, she’s just delivering like crazy every single role she gets. I guess you could call this film a neo-western, and it’s a very unique take on that genre, because it’s probably the most slowly-paced western I’ve seen, focussing a lot on the day-to-day workings of just traveling from one place to another by foot, with wagons and oxen next to you for weeks at a time. And I think it’s tremendous how Ms. Reichardt never gives us a really huge event to take away from that monotony, instead just allowing us to immerse ourselves into this lonely and arduous journey.

Bruce Greenwood is the actor in charge of playing the title character, Stephen Meek, and the cutoff referred to in the title is this other route Meek was taking a group of settlers through instead of going through the main trail where Indian attacks were rumored to be happening. This is actually all based on a true story, but the film isn’t about a historical event, it’s just about what went on through the minds of these few people going on such a hugely demanding journey following a man who was extremely hard-headed in his views and opinions, even when it turned out he was totally wrong and had no idea of what he was doing.

And it’s all very hard-hatting stuff that these settlers have to go through after it becomes clearer and clearer that Meek didn’t really know this new path as well as he thought he did, and you really get the sense of just how hard an odyssey it might have been, fearing to run out of water, having to leave things behind just so that your burden might lessen, and this isn’t all done to create some sort of huge scene of desperation, but to allow Ms. Reichardt to do what she does best, to create her very minimalistic outlook at the psyches of her characters, not to show the desperation itself, but to show what the desperation does, it’s just seriously well done.

A member of this group of settlers is Emily Tetherow, the character played by the incomparable Ms. Williams. And she’s just pitch perfect for this role, and it’s terrific that Ms. Reichardt has her to work with here, because another thing that really sets Meek’s Cutoff from other westerns is that it focuses a lot on the women in this group of settlers, and Ms. Williams is front and center, delivering a performance that’s will most likely end up in my Top 5 given by a female lead actress this year, one of incredible restraint, saying so much just with her eyes that it’s stunning to watch. And it’s Emily who confronts Meek, who blames him for not admitting he didn’t knew where he was going, and the scenes between the two are really something to behold.

There is an indian watching them, you see, and we are to assume that he’s doing just that to guide an indian attack to their location. And even the portrayal of the indian is unlike what you see in your regular westerns, he’s not that fierce warrior dressed in a particular way, he’s an observing man, a mysterious figure throughout. And the settlers eventually catch him, and there’s a discussion about whether they should just kill him so that he can’t kill them while they sleep, which is what Meek proposes, or to try and get him to tell them which way to go to get water, which is what Emily proposes. And it’s all sensationally well told, with a huge sense of slow-burning tension through the story, with a slow paced designed to really show us the grim realities of the time.

This is just truly a spectacular film, shot in a screen ratio we haven’t seen for decades, but that was the one used in most of the great western classics, which only adds to its faithful look. Yes, the pacing may be slow, but the film is all the more perfect for that, because that way we really get to feel how long and hard their journey was, and it’s just such an impressively immersive film that you have to give all the props in the world to Ms. Reichardt, who gives a masterclass in how to handle this material, and to Ms. Williams, who between this one and the upcoming Take This Waltz and My Week with Marilyn is bound to have another terrific year, and we’re all very lucky because of that.

Grade: A-

Hanna

2 May

Title: Hanna
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Joe Wright
Writers: Seth Lochhead and David Farr, based on a story by Seth Lochhead
Starring: 
Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language
Runtime: 
111 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
71%

I had some pretty supreme expectations going into Hanna. First of all, it was directed by Joe Wright, the man who has given us both Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, two pretty much perfect films that had two stellar performances from Keira Knightley, and this time around even though Ms. Knightley wasn’t around he recruited seventeen-year-old Saoirse Ronan, whom he directed to an Oscar nomination in Atonement, to play the leading role of a teenage assassin. And, secondly, the cast was truly awesome, not only was Saoirse Ronan involved, who I think is one of the probably three best young actresses out there, but so were Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett and Olivia Williams, who are all sorts of amazing themselves.

The story’s pretty great really, a terrific screenplay crafted by first-timers Seth Lochhead and David Farr from a story by Mr. Lochhead that had attracted the likes of Danny Boyle and Alfonso Cuarón before Mr. Wright was given the reigns of the project. And that’s really why I loved Hanna so much, because this was a pretty unique and refreshing take on the revenge thriller genre, and because it showed that Mr. Wright, who was known mostly for the performances he directed in thoughtfully-paced period films, was also quite adept at crafting some pretty damn thrilling action sequences, while losing none of his touch with the performances he gets from his whole cast in this one.

Honestly, it was a surprise to see that Mr. Wright did so incredibly well at crafting such a high-octane action thriller, his movies are generally much more meditative and slow-burning, while also unequivocally beautiful, and to see him stretch himself here was a pure joy, the guy has an eye for making killing look gorgeous, and along with his usual production designer, Sarah Greenwood, the man makes a colorful statement in this genre that I’ll no doubt have a hard time forgetting, this is a true piece of art and I can’t wait to own it on blu-ray.

I honestly loved this film, I loved how a director so masterfully avoided pigeon-holing himself as a guy who only did period dramas and how he elegantly crafted a hyperactive thriller that deals with espionage and a teen girl assassin to the beat of a sublime score by The Chemical Brothers that punctuates this film’s kickass attitude. From the very get-go this film establishes how savage its titular character is, she’s seen hunting a deer in a snowy forest with a bow and later on fighting hand-to-hand with her own father. This is all part of this training her father has been given her since she was born, she’s been raised in this remote location, never seen anything else or no one else that isn’t her father, who’s been teaching her how to fight, hunt and generally survive, while imparting upon her a wide range of knowledge straight from an encyclopedia.

But even though Hanna is a very ass-kicking sort of film, it also is, at its very core, a coming-of-age story, one that may have all this beautifully stylized action and that amazing and gorgeous long tracking shot we’ve come to expect from Mr. Wright by now, but one that is all about the characters, because really the talent of the actors behind them makes us care a whole lot about their predicament.

And even though Ms. Ronan here is acting alongside Mr. Bana and Ms. Blanchett (who I consider to be one of the five best living actresses) she’s the real reason to praise the acting of this film. We knew she was immensely talented from her work in Atonement, of course, and she proved that she wasn’t a one-hit-wonder by being the best thing (along with Stanley Tucci) in The Lovely Bones, and was great in this year’s very good The Way Back. She is honestly stunning here, this is a very different role for her, and would be a truly challenging one for any actor, and yet she completely owns it, and more than stands her ground in her scenes along these acting greats, this is a young woman who will have us talking about her talent for years to come, and I’m beyond myself with how much joy that gives me.

But anyways, back to the story at hand, Hanna’s father was training her to become this perfect little assassin. And so it happens that he used to work for the CIA, and that the two of them have been living in isolation all this time for a good reason, and that’s that they are both wanted by the government. So when Hanna herself decides that her training is over and a life in isolation is no longer the right call we see what happens when she lets herself be found, and as soon as she comes on the grid of Marissa Wiegler, the CIA agent who wants her and her father captured and who’s played by Ms. Blanchett, the hunt for her begins, and we see just what happens when the first to come after her approach her as though she was this little girl who had been shut away from society for her whole life. That first scene in which we get to see what Hanna is capable of is beautifully done, choreographed to perfection and rhythmically punctuated by beats from the aforementioned score by The Chemical Brothers which really gives this film a great feel.

And so Hanna, alone, is thrusted into the real world, that which she hand’t known except from what her father read to her. And it’s awesome to see her experience this world for the first time, the film at times turning into a road movie in which we get to see her in Morocco, Spain and with her father in Berlin, as well as meeting this sort of new-age English family on vacation in Morocco who help her out a bit, and who’s teenage daughter becomes the first friend of Hanna’s life.

And even though a lot of Hanna is kind of predictable and formulaic, and even takes some of its cues and feel from fairy tales, it’s never not fun, and Mr. Wright really does have a knack for crafting an enthralling film and getting superb performances from his whole cast. And I’ll take this final moment to once again praise the talents of Ms. Ronan, she’s on-screen for pretty much the whole film and it’s her intensity, as well as how she seems to wear her heart on her sleeve quite a lot, that make her more than capable of carrying this film to greatness. With Hanna Mr. Wright demonstrates that no matter the genre he’s more than capable himself of delivering a truly sensational film, full of his stylized visuals that are so often breathtaking and that show us why he’s one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, just a job really well done here.

Grade: A-

The Way Back

16 Feb

Title: The Way Back
Year:
2011
Director:
Peter Weir
Writers:
Peter Weir and Keith R. Clarke, based on the novel by Slavomir Rawicz
Starring:
Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language
Runtime:
133 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
76%

 

Peter Weir is a master at filmmaking, the Australian director has maneuvered his way smoothly through many genres and styles, his Dead Poets Society is amazing, The Truman Show is a thing of beauty and he got a seriously stellar performance from Jim Carrey in it, and then came 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, an awesome film that also happened to have been the last one he made until this one, seven years later. And much like his last effort, The Way Back has an appropriately epic feel to it to go along with some very fine performances from really capable actors. My problem with it was that, though grand in scale, the emotional complexities were too underdeveloped for me to really feel for the characters here, and when you’re in such a huge two-hour-plus ride you really need that involvement to get through it without having it feel tiresome.

And that’s really the problem with The Way Back, that it’s very long and that, even though it’s incredibly well made and acted, it, at times, feels as though it drags on because there isn’t as much emotional weight to keep you fully involved. The visuals may be really amazing, and they are thanks to cinematographer Russell Boyd, a frequent collaborator of Mr. Weir and an Oscar winner for his work in Master and Commander, but that’s just it, the movie many times feels far more invested in its gorgeous views than in its dramatic substance.

And I’m really not dissing The Way Back, it’s really a very very good film, I just wanted it to be a huge epic and get Peter Weir back to the Oscars (he’s been nominated six previous times), while the only nomination it got was for Makeup (it qualified for the 2010 Oscar crop, but it got its release in 2011 so I’m counting it as an ’11 film). But yeah, even though it feels too long at times, and not as invested in the emotional subtleties of it all, this is still one very solid film, done exquisitely well by a guy who knows his craft, and who loves observing people against some very intense and special situations.

I wanted to grade The Way Back somewhere in the A-range, maybe a strong A-minus, but it will definitely fall a bit short from that, because, a year from now, I doubt I’ll remember this one all that much. And considering this is supposed to be this very epic look at survival and enormous issues within, that’s quite a letdown. I want to congratulate Mr. Weir and his crew for actually making this film, because the production values are simply superb, and the fact that a film this huge and ambitious found a home and financing is really fantastic, but the overall product, though great to look at, isn’t all that great to ponder at once you’re done with it.

If you can put aside that considering the amazing story it told the film itself should have been far more epic itself, you’ll find yourself watching a pretty amazing film. One in which the story is of escapees of a Siberian prison, making their way 4’000 miles through, to freedom in India. Yes, that’s how huge the scope is in The Way Back. A helluva journey with endless possibilities of death in many ways, but, really, that’s kind of it. And yes, that huge journey with countless chances of starvation and injury is compelling stuff, no doubt about that, but there’s way too few character development here for it to propel itself to sheer greatness.

The four main cast members are all excellent. We have Jim Sturgess as the one I guess we’d call the leader of the pack, Janusz. Then we have Ed Harris, who’s seriously amazing, as an American who goes by the name of Mr. Smith. And finally we have Colin Farrell, a Russian guy named Valka. These are the three main escapees we meet in the journey, but along said journey we also get to meet Irena, a young woman who has escaped from a collective farm near Warsaw and joins them. Irena’s played by Saoirse Ronan, who turned heads in her breakthrough Oscar-nominated role in Atonement, and who continued to be great in the otherwise so-so The Lovely Bones, and who continues to be incredible here, a streak that she probably won’t break once she reunites with her Atonement director, Joe Wright, for this April’s awesome-looking Hanna, alongside Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.

I’ve heard claims that the story on which this is based isn’t actually true, as the film says it is, and if it really isn’t it wouldn’t matter much to me. I mean, if it were true it would probably actually be a bit too unbelievable, and no matter the case Mr. Weir and his cast and crew were still crazy committed into translating the true (or maybe not) tale to the screen, which is what counts. I don’t really care that much in the case of The Way Back if the story is true or not, I just care that it’s well done, and this one really is. Yes, there could have been a lot more dramatic and emotional complexities, but this is still a pretty darn good film and you should definitely go watch it.

Grade: B+

Black Swan

8 Dec

Title: Black Swan
Year:
2010
Director:
Darren Aronofsky
Writers:
Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin, based on a story by Andres Heinz
Starring:
Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey, Kristina Anapau, Toby Hemingway, Sebastian Stan, Janet Montgomery
MPAA Rating:
R, strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use
Runtime:
108 min
Major Awards:
1 Golden Globe, 1 SAG Award, 1 BAFTA
IMDb Rating:
8.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
86%

I just saw Black Swan, and to date, with just a bit more than three weeks left in the year, it’s most definitely my favorite film of all 2010. This is a film that I can call a masterpiece without any sort of hesitation, because that’s exactly what it is, a masterful piece of art.

Darren Aronofsky has been one of the auteurs I have liked the most for about a decade now. He came to the scene in 1998 with Pi, one of the most perfect debut films to have come out in the past couple of decades that he reportedly made for a measly $60’000, and got him all the indie cred he deserved. Then he got a slightly larger budget, $4.5 million, to craft his sophomore effort with, still a small amount but this is a guy that works with small amounts and creates unbelievable pieces of art with them, and the result was one of the best sophomore efforts ever, Requiem for a Dream, a film I have professed my love for time and time again.

Six years passed since Requiem for a Dream for us to get his next effort in 2006. And in that time Requiem for a Dream had managed to establish him as a man with a very unique vision and way of translating that into films with a harrowing effect, I have it ranked at #16 in my Best Of List of the past decade, and it was the film got people really anticipating his next film. However the result was far from amazing.

That film was The Fountain, a film that Mr. Aronofsky had written and planned to direct with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the leading roles under a proposed budget of $70 million. However, Warner Bros. shut down production on it, Mr. Pitt left the film and Mr. Aronofsky had to compromise his vision, rewriting the script and agreeing to work with a $35 million budget and having his then wife Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman in the leading roles. The result was nowhere near bad, I actually thought it was quite okay, but it was so evident upon watching it that this was not the way Mr. Aronofsky wanted it to be done, this was a hugely ambitious project and the cutting down of costs affected the result tremendously.

In 2008 he rebounded with The Wrestler, a film I ranked as the 9th best of all last decade and that resuscitated the career of Mickey Rourke who gave one of the most daring performances I have ever seen. That film again had Mr. Aronofsky working on a low budget, $6 million, and working on a more intimate story, one that resonated with viewers from the beginning of the movie until the end credits rolled and that amazing Bruce Springsteen song came to life.

I realized I haven’t talked about Black Swan at all so far. But I just wanted to tell those who didn’t know about Mr. Aronofsky’s career that this is a man who has crafted two pretty much perfect films in my opinion, and that easily gets that number up to three with this one. Another film he made for a reasonably low price, $13 million, from an idea he had first discussed with Natalie Portman a decade ago.

The next film Mr. Aronofsky will direct is set to be The Wolverine, based on the X-Men character, but that won’t be a sequel of the Gavin Hood directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but rather a one-off entry into the franchise. I guess he’s doing this to finally get to work with a huge budget and try to tell a larger scale story, and my guess is that a Wolverine movie with Mr. Aronofsky’s imprint will more than likely be a roaring success.

And now, let’s talk about Black Swan, my favorite film of the year thus far. This is the most passionate film I’ve seen in a really long while, one that will no doubt polarize its viewers, some people will be like me, head over heels for the master class on display, and there will definitely be some people who won’t get it. But I got it, I thought Mr. Aronofsky’s direction was seriously daring and should definitely garner him an Oscar nomination, and I thought Natalie Portman’s performance was one for the ages, and if she gets the Oscar it would be well deserved, though a certain Ms. Bening may have something to say about it.

The performance Ms. Portman gives is seriously spellbinding. And she’s why the movie works so well, in order for Mr. Aronofsky to successfully translate his huge vision he needed an actress willing to go seriously far for him, physically and mentally this is a very demanding role, and Ms. Portman gets seriously immersed in it, delivering a performance that’s as nerve-racking and unforgettable as they come. Ms. Portman looks and feels like a ballerina, childishly thin and obsessed with her art, and as we are introduced to her world we are told by Vincent Cassel’s terrific Thomas, the director of the ballet company, that they’re going to put on a new production of Swan Lake.

And right then things start making a turn for the creepily gorgeous. Winona Ryder’s character, the veteran ballerina is replaced with Ms. Portman’s Nina, the young star who’s given the demanding task of playing both the Swan Queen and her evil twin. And it’s when Nina is put under such tremendous pressure that we become so deeply enthralled by this film, and we are entertained by Mr. Aronofsky’s look into the world of ballet, the physical sacrifices Nina makes are all shown in full light, she’s willing to do anything for her art, willing to bleed, willing to vomit, you just have to see all of this it’s seriously compelling stuff. And it all works so well because this is a director who has made a career out of showing such perfect glimpses into the tormented lives of people, and he does so with such intellect and tact that it’s just stunning to watch.

Ms. Portman’s performance will obviously steal the show, and rightfully so. But Mr. Cassel’s is also great, and even more so are Mila Kunis as Lily, Nina’s rival dancer with whom she develops a very complex relationship with and about whom I’ll talk a bit more later on, and Barbara Hershey, who’s seriously terrific as Nina’s mother, a former dancer herself who’s all over her to succeed and adding even more pressure to her daughter, her relationship is one of the many amazing things this film offers. Everyone really is just perfect for their roles, and adds to the overall awesomeness of this film, a film which has a bit of everything, the psychological thriller with more than a bit of sexuality, melodrama, and it’s even funny at times, in a dark and ludicrous sort of way.

Now, about Ms. Kunis. I doubt she’ll receive an Oscar nomination, but I really think she should. Mr. Aronofsky reportedly cast Ms. Kunis via Skype without having her audition, and that has to be one of the smartest moves he has made. She’s just seriously amazing as Lily, because she has to be what Nina isn’t, she has to be the sort of girl that fascinates Nina, someone that has confidence and isn’t so smothered by the pressure of their demanding world, and someone that will intrigue her in every single way possible.

And that’s what’s so terrific about Black Swan, the psychological relationships Nina has with everyone. With Lily she’s enthralled, sexually and professionally, intrigued with how Lily embeds herself into her mind; with her mother she has a weird relationship because she won’t let her evolve as she lives vicariously through Nina, never letting her do anything for her own; and then there’s Thomas who is manipulative and cunning and requires Nina to get out of the sexual repression her mother has set upon her.

Black Swan is a perfect film. Mr. Aronofsky has been quoted  saying that this is his companion piece to The Wrestler, both films are set in very specific worlds that demand a huge amount of sacrifice from oneself to survive in their professional atmospheres. And both those films work because they had actors willing to go the extra mile for their art, and Ms. Portman totally gives into her role, a ballerina driven by obsession, losing herself mentally in the process. Perfect direction, perfect acting, perfect everything, this is the best film of the year, simple as that.

Grade: A+

Robin Hood

17 Jul

Title: Robin Hood
Year: 2010
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland, based on the story by himself, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Durand, Mark Addy, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Max von Sydow
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content
Runtime: 140 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

In press junkets or interviews we heard time and time again that this Robin Hood was completely different from the ones we had seen before, that Russell Crowe had nothing to do with Sean Connery, that Cate Blanchett had nothing to do with Audrey Hepburn, and that, it turns out, was exactly right, this version of Robin Hood is unlike any version we’ve seen before, it’s a prequel, Robin Hood isn’t the folk hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor yet, we just see Robin lead an uprising, forming an army to fight off the French, which, as we were told in the trailers, is what will build his subsequent fame.

This is indeed action-packed, and there’s a helluva lot of CGI action sequences that look great, but I just think we should have seen the story we all know, when instead the movie ends and tells us that that was how the legend began, but seriously, we should get the legend and not the prologue to it, we know the legend, that’s how we fell in love with this character, this telling isn’t bad, it’s just not that great, Mr. Crowe gives it his best but that’s just not great enough, and as for Cate Blanchett who plays Maid Marion, well, firstly let me just state that, to me, Ms. Blanchett is one of the five greatest living actresses, but Marion isn’t a maid in this story, this is all set before that, and as such this is a completely different character, and because of that she’s played differently, and that threw me off, I loved the Maid Marion character from all the past films, this one I liked because it was played by Cate Blanchett, but that’s about it. When this film was still in the speculation stages the many names that were thrown around for this character included Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Kate Winslet among others, Sienna Miller was actually cast at one point I believe, and from that all I can say is that actress-wise we would have always had a great Maid Marion, it’s just that without the “Maid” part of her title, I didn’t feel I knew her.

And there’s nothing bad with introducing characters in new ways, I just didn’t love what they did to them this time around, I mean, it’s extremely well-done, the action is shot really well and the violence is quite cool, we’ve come to expect that from most Scott/Crowe collaborations, but I will say that I would have probably liked the film more had it not been named Robin Hood, sure, naming it that gave them a whole lot of better marketing options, but it also gave the audience expectations, expectations that weren’t necessarily shattered, but rather, I would say, they were avoided, and you can’t do that when you have such a heavy name as your title.

The film is a bit too long, that’s also very true, but I didn’t mind that much, I just liked it that we were given one seriously beautifully photographed film and a very intelligent actor in the lead role, yes, I have my troubles with the film and I have listed them above, but they’re mostly troubles with what this film did to the Robin Hood name, but as a stand-alone outing, this one, for me, worked well, plus, there’s a scene in which Will Scarlett says to Little Jon that he should never go for the most beautiful girl but instead go for the more plain-looking one, he uses the exact same words Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind used when describing his theory to get girls, I thought that was a pretty genius nod to a previous film of this one’s lead actor.

Grade: B