Nineteen years ago Kevin Costner brought us a Robin Hood that was very different than the one I am expecting from Russell Crowe. My pre-teen crush on Costner and my crush as a 25-year-old on Crowe signify the difference. Costner was juvenile and charming in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, while I expect Crowe to be solidly defiant, masculine and impassioned in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. Different times call for different heroes. Costner made me laugh and smile; I expect Crowe to make me swoon and cry. I can’t wait.
I used to convince my siblings to rent Kevin Reyolds' Prince of Thieves every time we rented a VCR (it's true) from the video store. Now, many years later, I own my own DVD of the film and force people who have never seen it (sacrilege!) to watch it. Despite my devotion, I still look forward to the upcoming Scott version of the legendary tale, based on the pairing of Crowe and Scott (Oscar-winner Gladiator is near flawless and A Good Year was not as bad as it could have been, thanks to Marion Cotillard). I also expect a strong script from screenwriter Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, LA Confidential). (The LAT profiles Helgeland.)
Here are ten reasons why Prince of Thieves should not be forgotten, and how Robin Hood will change things up.
10. The Royalty - Sean Connery as Richard the Lionheart.
His screen time is little over a minute, yet when he surprises everyone as King Richard, Connery is believable and noble. Danny Huston will probably do fine, although his strength is in playing bad guys (X-Men: Origins – Wolverine, 30 Days of Night).
9. The Weaponry - Costner is beaten with a stick by Little John, threatened with a spoon by the Sheriff of Nottingham.
If Crowe’s Robin Hood is beaten the same way, it will be less emasculating, as this Little John (Lost badass Kevin Durand) is actually 6 ½ inches taller. Crowe’s Robin Hood boasts more effective weaponry--some of which Crowe demonstrated on Oprah.
8. The Evil Sidekicks - Michael Wincott as Guy of Gisbourne, Geraldine McEwan as Mortianna
Wincott is disgusting yet still sympathetic, even when his cousin tests out his new sword on his stomach, and McEwan is just plain disgusting. I can’t wait to see what kind of evil Scott has conjured from the likes of William Hurt, Mark Strong and Max Von Sydow.
7. The Good Sidekick - Morgan Freeman as Azeem
It would be difficult to replicate Freeman’s Azeem, but perhaps Crowe doesn’t need a sidekick as much as Costner did. The void should be filled by a rich supporting cast.
6. Strictly ‘90s - Christian Slater says “Fuck me, they cleared it” and mullet-sporting Costner gets kicked in the groin
While Prince of Thieves is set in 1194, the dialogue is vintage 1991. The new script is bound to be more historically sensitive.
5. The ‘90s Epic Historical Action film
They don’t make movies like Prince of Thieves anymore, which balances moods of darkness and humor so well – it’s just plain fun. I prefer mid ‘90s epics such as Braveheart and Gladiator over later period epics Troy, 300 and Clash of the Titans. Scott’s enjoyable 2005 Kingdom of Heaven would have been better without Orlando Bloom. Where will Scott's Robin Hood fit in this genre evolution?
4. The Romance – Gentle and Sweet
Robin and Marian floating down from his tree house in sunlight, Marian sailing away from Robin in the mist, Marian screaming Robin’s name as she is dragged off by the Sheriff of Nottingham…all perfect, especially to the backdrop of the beautiful score by composer Michael Kamen. Cate Blanchett and Crowe will likely be tougher, sexier, and smarter – but will they have as much chemistry as Costner and Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio?
3. The Sincerity - “I would die for you”
While I can’t be the only one who loves the Brian Adams theme song, or the moment when Robin Hood declares this sentiment to Marian, I can't help but think that Crowe would hit a woman with a phone before saying this.
2. The Villain - Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham
Rickman’s Sheriff is in my top-ten fave performances of all time. Matthew MacFadyen (Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice), will put a different spin on it, and will boast his own evil sidekicks. But really, I'd have liked to see the filmmakers cast Rickman again.
1. The Hero - Costner as Robin Hood
His Robin Hood doesn’t know how to use a telescope, has a reputation for being a spoiled brat, and upon his return to England, he is clearly still a boy growing into a man. But he is charmingly flawed and sympathetic, impulsive, mischievous, and often clueless. This is why the movie caught me the first time I saw it and why I will always love it. Costner as Robin Hood is just a piece of the puzzle, making room for the supporting cast to help him entertain us. Crowe’s Robin Hood will undoubtedly be a more dominating mature movie star turn.