The story of Robin Hood will no doubt sound familiar to you. According to some English folklore dating back to the 15th century, the archer and swordsman of noble title, Lord Locksley, fights in the Crusades for England, only to return and find his land seized by the domineering Sheriff of Nottingham, who in turn works for Prince John. In most retellings, Robin Hood, his lover Marion and a band of Merry Men defy the crown and steal from the rich and give to the poor. But no matter the details, Robin Hood is always a man of the people, a symbol for fighting against injustice.
One of the most well-known reiterations of the tale of Robin Hood was Disney’s 1973 “Robin Hood,” an animated feature film that depicted the prince of thieves as a fox as he quietly fights against the taxation of Prince John. He’s sly, get it?
We’ve come a long way from there.
The latest variation, “Robin Hood,” in theaters everywhere tomorrow, stars Taron Egerton as “Rob.” It’s got Maid Marion, it’s got the Merry Men (if you count Jamie Foxx’s John) and it's got the Sheriff of Nottingham in the forbidding Ben Mendelsohn.
This film uses most of the old legend’s details -- Robin’s manor is taken from him while he’s at war, he ends up with Marion, there are plenty of heist sequences -- but it adds in some lore that rounds out the story. John, whom Robin fought in the Crusades, comes to England to train Robin to steal from the Sheriff -- nothing “Little” about him here. The townspeople (except Will Scarlet, played with Jamie Dornan’s native accent, thank goodness) see “The Hood” as a symbol of resistance and rally behind him to ultimately foil the plans of the Sheriff and the Church of England as a whole.
But the reviews aren’t great so far: “On all fronts, it strives to twist the Robin Hood story into something more provocative, but ultimately it’s a garbled, hollow mess of attempts at relevancy,” said Entertainment Weekly. Sure, it’s all very flamboyant, but it makes for an entertaining ride if nothing else.
What the film did right, in my opinion, was cast Egerton. If no one likes this movie, at least they have the great pleasure of watching the Welsh 29-year-old rappel around a CGI Nottingham -- it’s not a bad look, I’ll say that much.
Of course, Egerton isn’t the first wonderfully good-looking, half-rugged Prince of Thieves to play the role. Do you remember the rest? Vote your favorite Robin Hood to the top!