By midlandsmovies, Nov 11 2018 09:54AM
Robin Hood The Rebellion (2018) Dir. Nicholas Winter
Back in 1991 two Robin Hood films were released with Kevin Costner’s infamous Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves going head-to-head in an archery competition with the lower budget Robin Hood starring Patrick Bergin. Now in 2018 we have a similar experience with the Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood and this low budget UK film.
Here, the background of the merry men coming together is jettisoned, as a coda at the start gives us a few lines to set up the story – which to be fair, would be well-known by the majority an audience familiar with the often-told legend. We are then thrust into a fight scene showing the current brutality of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men against the band of outlaws hiding in the forest. Some good drone shots and authentic location work set up the period well, alongside solid costume design. At least here we don’t get the blockbuster “reinvention” which (at the time of writing and only the trailer out) looks on initial viewing like a CGI mess.
In summary, the story has Maid Marian (Marie Everett) being kidnapped by the Sheriff (James Oliver Wheatley) forcing Robin (Ben Freeman) to rescue her. Sadly the solid beginning and competent shadowy and fire-lit cinematography is undone by some rather bland story-telling. The stirring music is almost constant throughout, which gives the film no light or shade. About 25 minutes in we get our first shot of a stone castle but this is the first major location change. It comes far too late and a forest is only so interesting to look at and the woods give the movie the unfortunate tone of a fan-film. Again, same music. Same locations. Same action.
The film reminded me of the worst excesses of Zak Snyder – it looks the business but slow-motion is used when not needed and every line of “lofty”, but too expository, dialogue is delivered with so much emphasis it comes across as pantomime-like. When these “trailer” lines (“we MUST fight”) are so commonplace, development is difficult as no-one has regular conversations that enlighten their character.
It could do with a huge dollop of light-heartedness too (the best Hood tales for me have an abundance of camp fun) and the film reminds me of the rather dour Ridley Scott version from a few years back. And a much-needed OTT cameo from Prince of Thieves-starring Brian Blessed is too little too late.
Sadly then, although the filmmaker has done well with a low-budget, the story just isn’t there to maintain the required interest and the dialogue instils little empathy with the characters. Especially with Robin himself seemingly quite murderous in this version. So despite some great location work and cinematography, those two fantastic elements alone cannot overcome the film’s flaws so it’s difficult to recommend despite its honourably good intentions.