Mini-Review Monday: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Robin HoodRelease: June, 14 1991

Story: Robin Hood (an Englishman nobleman played by Kevin Costner) returns to England following his imprisonment in Jerusalem. He fought with King Richard the Lion Heart in the Third Crusade. The king is still out of the country, leaving his brother (Prince John, who is not or mentioned seen in this movie) to rule in his stead. Unfortunately, the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Alan Rickman) is crooked and despicable. He abuses the poor and downtrodden, is nasty with women, kills unjustly, and strives for even more power. Upon his arrival home, Robin Hood finds his father dead and his home destroyed. Along with a man a fellow Jerusalem prisoner, Azeem (a Moor man played by Morgan Freeman); a blind friend; a band of outlaws from Sherwood Forest (led by John Little played by Nick Brimble); a woman he’s falling in love with, Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio); and a drunken Friar (Mike McShane), Robin hopes to reinstill hope in the oppressed people by steeling from the rich and giving to the poor. With the people’s support, Robin and his friends will be able to take down the Sheriff, his future seeing witch (yeah, she’s a really ridiculous and stupid idea), and his right hand man, his cousin Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Michael Wincott).

Thoughts: As a kid, I remember seeing some of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) at  my dad’s. I’ve always been slightly curious about it since. Well, last night I finally popped it into the old Blu-ray player. I didn’t have high expectations. With that in mind, did it manage to be any good? Nope. It’s an under-researched, boringly acted, poorly designed, horribly choreographed, miscast, uninspired mess of a film. The only good things in it: Morgan Freeman, Mike McShane, and the music. Everything else is lousy.

Kevin Costner especially fails to impress. I’ve never liked Costner much. I’m in the camp that thinks he’s a bore. I just want him to express an emotion. One would be nice. I won’t criticize him for his lack of an English accent (that’s been done enough already), nor will I get into his lack of any romantic chemistry with Mastrantonio, but can I please talk about his total inability to look skilled with a sword. At least he’s better with one than Alan Rickman. I usually love Rickman but his over-the-top performance, while apparently being a hit with most people, does nothing for me. His sword fighting, highlighted in a climactic fight with Costner, is awful. Costner looks like he trained with a sword a little bit to prepare. Rickman appears to have only picked one up for the first time right before they filmed the fight scene. Needless to say, the bout between our hero and villain doesn’t hold a candle to ones in movies like The Princess Bride (1987) or The Mark of Zorro (1940), the latter starring Basil Rathbone who played Sir Guy in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). I haven’t seen the 1938 Robin Hood film with Errol Flynn, but I have seen Mark of Zorro (my review can be found here). The swordplay from Rathbone and Tyrone Power is masterful and is light years ahead of anything Costner and Rickman do in this film. It’s so forgettable and underwhelming that I can hardly remember any of it and I watched the film only the other day. But this whole movie’s forgettable. I’ll be surprised if I remember much of it at all in a couple weeks.

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