Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Cannes Day One: Robin Hood Gets Off to a Slow Burn

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 12, 2010 at 3:10AM

With Ridley Scott recovering from knee surgery, that left Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Imagine's Brian Grazer to field the press conference for the 63rd Cannes opener, Robin Hood.
2
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

With Ridley Scott recovering from knee surgery, that left Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Imagine's Brian Grazer to field the press conference for the 63rd Cannes opener, Robin Hood.

The movie played okay at the press screening Wednesday morning. No seat slapping, booing, or cheering. Judging from early reviews and the folks I've spoken to, it's one of those good-not-great reactions, which given its substantial cost--and whatever the "real" figure is, the movie is hugely expensive--this movie is doomed. Its $200-million budget is up there on the screen. It's not-so-merry old 12th-century England, with many visual effects, from a fleet of ships on the high seas, multiple big-scale battles, castles, horses, cauldrons, bows and arrows to burning chateaus and villages. This is a big-scale ambitious period epic in the 60s grand tradition. It seeks to retell a well-worn tale, to put old wine in a shiny new bottle.

Imagine's Brian Grazer is one of the last of the old-school Hollywood producers who can still get his studio (Universal, which sacrificed two cochairmen over this movie, among others) to green-light a tentpole wannabe at a stratospheric budget by selling the elements: iconic myth: check. Star/director combo who have delivered big bucks on similar material in the past: check. So Universal opened up their coffers to this magic formula, foolishly, I think. If this movie cost more than $200 million, it's doomed. Ten years ago with five Oscar wins behind it, Gladiator cost $103 million and grossed $187 million domestic and $487 million worldwide.

Look, these clever, experienced filmmakers put a lot of gorgeous scenery, costumes, and glorious set-pieces up there for us to enjoy. The opening siege, with King Richard the Lion Heart storming a French castle with his army, master archer Robin Longstride among them (establishing his honor and heroism), is a masterful piece of work. Nobody does battles better than Scott. He's a master.

So this is not a movie to dismiss outright. Writer Brian Helgeland does a solid job constructing a father-son relationship between Max Von Sydow and Robin, and a believable slow-build romance between Robin and Marian (Cate Blanchett, with hair that goes on for miles). (SPOILER: They go a tad too far with the revisionist feminism: the bit where she shows up on the battlefield is ludicrous; her chain mail was "plastic," admitted Blanchett.)

Crowe is a fine, serious actor who takes his craft a mite too seriously. I suspect that making him a producer ("they needed somebody else to blame," he said) and catering to his whims about his character's motivation, some of them good ones--it was his idea to have Marian take off his chain mail--helped to tilt the movie toward the title character's grim heroics. There's not much humor about the man. Suddenly a mere archer is not only running battles for the King of England (incompetent though John may be) but contributing to that great milestone in English history, the Magna Carta!

That's not our Robin Hood, leader of the merry rebel band in Sherwood Forest. If we want that legend, we'll have to hope that the movie breaks Universal's magic number to trigger a sequel--that's where the movie leaves off. (Their original plan was a seven and a half hour film; the briefly glimpsed Sheriff of Nottingham, who was to figure in the tale, must be in a later, as yet unwritten, chapter.) In other words, Robin Hood is yet another origin myth. I want to see the sequel: that's not the issue. The question is whether Universal will be able to afford it.

Truth is, Crowe may have starred in some big movies and makes a burly heroic leading man--he looks great when he takes off his shirt, and as Blanchett suggested, his leather pants are "pretty fetching"--but he's not a movie star. That paradigm is on the way out, but Crowe doesn't know it. The way he commandeered the press conference, suggesting that a latter-day Robin Hood would want to fight against the monopolistic media, making fun of reporters' accents, shaking his butt at the press corps, and touting his contribution to the movie, was unattractive. He has to be the smartest guy in the room. Wisely, Grazer kept uncharacteristically mum. He knows when to give Crowe the spotlight.

This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Reviews, Production , Ridley Scott, Cannes, Period, Action, Russell Crowe, Universal/Focus Features, VFX


E-Mail Updates