It seems that Russel Crowe feels indebted to Ridley Scott for directing the movie that won him an Oscar... why else would he agree to star in the three-hour dark origin story of Robin Hood after being in three subsequent Ridley Scott duds? This triumph of tedium is like an amalgamation of all of the boring political power struggle subplot scenes from Gladiator interrupted by confusing battle scenes with no context. The movie takes place in about forty-six different locations that all look exactly the same, making it even more difficult to decipher which characters come from where, whose side they're on, where they're going, why they're going, or what's awaiting them at the destination, especially when you're just looking for some recognizable Robin Hood in all of the mess. I'm not one to push for strict adaptations, but I appreciate a little help from the filmmakers in the form of anything remotely similar to the source material. The film should have been called Medieval Serf, because even after "The legend begins!" flashes on the screen at the very end, I'm still not sure how the events depicted in the film lead to this character becoming Robin Hood. To be honest, if common sense hadn't told me that the biggest star would play the title character, I'm not sure if, after watching this film, I would be able to say who actually played Robin Hood.
What's even more annoying is how the film relies on the audience's prior knowledge of the character that it is trying to redefine. Medieval Serf shoots maybe three arrows in the entire film and we're supposed to believe and take seriously in the end that, after fighting in a huge battle in the midst of which he finds his arch-enemy, some bald guy whose name I never caught, and fights him one-on-one on the shore of some Indecipherable European Body of Water, getting momentarily knocked out, plunging him under that water while Bald Guy gets away on a horse, that he could rise out of said water with blood in his eyes, and shoot an arrow some two-hundred yards and put it square in the back of Bald Guy's head. That I could accept in a lighter context, or if the character I was watching was actually Robin Hood. Not only would I accept it, but I would enjoy it.
With every great idea there follows a dozen inferior impostors trying to capitalize on its success, and here it feels like Ridley Scott is trying to do with Robin Hood what Christopher Nolan did with Batman. But does every iconic hero need a dark origin story? What Scott gets wrong is that he doesn't show us why this character was iconic in the first place, and what's worse is that he doesn't even give us the thrill of seeing an actual hero on the screen. Nolan gave us a reason to take Batman seriously, and if that didn't work for you, at least Bruce Wayne donned the costume and hit the streets for the last hour of the film. All we get in Robin Hood are muddled arguments between unfamiliar characters and flashbacks to Robin's father telling him to "Rise, and rise again until lambs become lions." Whatever that means. Maybe we'll find out in Medieval Outlaw in 2013.