I’m wondering why so many people seem to be so against the new Robin Hood movie.  I really enjoyed it until the last 20 minutes or so (poorly shot fights, very difficult to see what’s going on, some bad plot choices), but until then, so very enjoyable.  It’s a new movie: it’s not going to be a re-make of something else — if it was, people would just be complaining about that, I suppose.

I’m delighted with care taken to establish atmosphere.  I felt transported to another time and place.  I was immediately engaged in the story, and was drawn along the plot every step of the way … until the last battle.  More on that later.

Me and my hormones are thrilled with the men in the cast, especially the ones who take their shirts off — yeah, Crowe and his 3 supporting actors, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, Alan Doyle.  They’re fit and healthy, and I believe that they have been fighting for the last many years.  No metrosexual boys here.  Just Men.  Fighting, riding, partying men.  Delicious, delicious Men.  Also, they’re fantastic actors.  I wasn’t wondering how these people keep getting work.  I wasn’t distracted by how bland the performances were.  Rather, I was engaged in the world and the story (and how can you go wrong with Max von Sydow, Eileen Atkins and William Hurt in the cast), and therefore had much better movie-going experience.

The women were great, led by the incomparable Cate Blanchett.  It makes perfect sense to me that the woman who lives in the local “great house” is leading her community in farming and caring for everyone who is left while the men are off at war, defending her home and her people from the ruffian orphans.  She is strong and a leader, not bitchy or entitled (what some people think “empowered” is).  Also sensitive and a woman, she is instantly turned on by the handsome veteran who appears on her doorstep.  She brilliantly shows the inner struggle of defending her independence, position and lands from the person who threatens to subjugate her, against her desire for this man who begins to pull at her heartstrings with his honourable actions.

Spoiler Alert — Spoilers follow:

One of the big complaints about this movie is that it’s a “pre-quel” to the Robin Hood legend most of us are familiar with.  While the whole story takes place before the time that Robin is hiding with his merry men in woods, “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor,” I thoroughly enjoyed the story behind the legend.

Before the last 20 minutes the action is generally captured well, most notably the archery.  And everyone shooting looks like they actually know how to do it!  The final battle, however, does not maintain the high standard set by the rest of the film.  How is it that the rest of the movie is so beautifully done, but once the big battle begins that it feels like a completely different movie?  We definitely could have done without “Marion’s Revenge and the Charge of the Pony Brigade” as I’m calling it.  Also, as is the norm for Hollywood these days (so very unfortunate!), they mess with the frame rates and it’s filmed with “shaky-cam”.  You just can’t see what’s going on: what action am I meant to be following?  Who am I seeing? Who am I supposed to be cheering for?  When I was supposed to be most emotionally engaged, I just didn’t care.  I caught up when they wanted me to believe that Robin was squished between two boats, but why was that even important?  Just to get his triumphant shout and emergence from the water, I think.  A gimmick.  Perhaps I was supposed to experience the confusion of battle.  The only movie I know of that used shaky-cam well is Master and Commander.  They shot some sequences with shaky-cam, but then clearly showed a short sequence of action (for example, one attack and defense).  This way, I got the feeling of chaos, but could still follow a story.

All in all, I would definitely watch this movie again and I recommend it to you.  I would suggest that you see it on the big screen so that you can enjoy the beautiful sweeping shots of Northern England.  Just be prepared for the drop at the end.