My mind is on an English history overdrive. I am reading Hilary Mantel's excellent, exciting, extraordinary, “Wolf Hall”, which presents a fascinating portrait of Thomas Cromwell as he successfully manoeuvres his way around the labyrinthine corridors of power in the court of Henry VIII.
I am also watching the outrageously-funny Black Adder series on DVD. Rowan Atkinson, also known as Mr. Bean, as Black Adder in different periods of British history is a hoot. And Mel Brooks' spoof of the Robin Hood story, Men In Tights is one of my all-time favourites. Watching Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, I had all these different versions floating in my mind. There was Black Adder mistakenly killing the king and doing all sorts of things to hide his crime, Cromwell negotiating with the bishops and the barons while a diminishing, diminutive Lady Anne Boleyn watched every move with her flashing bright, coal black eyes and a moving mole, a host of arbitrary extras and a persistent boom mike that refused to go away.
However, in spite of the mental distractions and a rather long in the tooth Robin Hood (Russell Crowe at 45 is the oldest actor to play Robin Hood, older than even Sean Connery in Robin and Marian), the movie is gripping from the start. The battle scenes are tightly choreographed and imaginatively visualised. The special effects are seamless. The acting is of the highest calibre, which is only to be expected when you have Cate Blanchett playing Marion (she is a widow not a maid) and William Hurt as the faithful Marshall apart from Oscar-winner Crowe playing Robin Hood.
As our lives get increasingly fragmented, origin stories seem to have become very important. Robin Hood is a prequel delving into beginnings of the Robin Hood myth. So while there are no adventures of the merry men robbing the rich and feeding the poor, all the characters from Friar Tuck to the Sheriff of Nottingham and the unpredictable King John are introduced.
With a sizzling love story, rocking action set pieces and a super screenplay (the always reliable Brian Helgeland), Ridley Scott has delivered a rousing evening's entertainment. Now to wait for his Alien prequel!
Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt
Director: Ridley Scott
Storyline: Robin Hood's origin story
Bottomline: Super action and rocking cast make for a jolly movie