Cannes opened today with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe's latest epic, Robin Hood. Set during a period in which France and England were constantly bickering about one thing or another, the film portrays the French as villains, eager to plunder and rape the poor innocent English folk. Strange choice to open the Cannes Film Festival you would think, well not really as it's all very tongue in cheek and there are plenty of English villains as well. Plus the French don't hate the English anymore, they hate Americans now so fittingly Cannes chose a film which deletes America by going historical on its ass. Joking aside, there has been a lot of talk that this year's festival is particularly anti-Hollywood with only one American film in the main competition, but that's another story.
In case you didn't know, 'Robin Hood' is effectively a prequel to myth we all know and love. Don't look to trailer for any sort of indication of the story as it completely misrepresents the narrative timeline. This is the story of how Robin Hood became the most wanted man in England. This leads us to one of the main talking points, the historical accuracy, or lack of it. A few people were making a big deal about it as we exited the screening, I didn't think it was a problem. Because the film is so historically inaccurate and about a mythical character anyway, it doesn't really matter. There is definitely a responsibilty for filmmakers to present something as historically accurate as possible, if that is their pretense or if it is on a serious subject. This isn't, and Scott makes no such promise for historical accuracy. You would have to be very unaware of history to think this a realistic account of events, I mean it basically implies that Robin Hood created the Magna Carta (Yes you have permission to look up the Magna Carta on wikipedia). It's sort of like a parallel universe, because although none of what happens in the film did happen in reality, it potentially could have.
Russell Crowe definitely looks right for the part, and at least attempts an English accent, unlike some people *cough*Kevin Costner. The accent accuracy was certainly a bigger problem than the historical accuracy overall though. It's odd that Robin and all his merry men were played by non-english actors and certainly accounts for the strange variety of sometimes incomprehensible accents we hear throughout. Crowe's ranges from something like a Lancashire accent to a thick Glaswegian one, with the odd bit of Dublin thrown in, and he actually does the best out of all of them. I was dubious as to whether Cate Blanchett was the right choice for Maid Marion but she is probably the star of the show and has a good chemistry with Crowe.
After a slow start, which makes a deliberate effort to NOT be like Gladiator, the film flows at a nice pace and the slightly lengthy 2h 20min run time does not seem stodgy. There is a good balance of action, humour and romance leading to the main battle scene, the battle on the beach, of which glimpses were shown in the trailer. It is sort of like a cross between the D-day landings and the Battle of Hastings, and as you would expect from Ridley Scott, the master of such sequences, it is well put together. There is a particularly impressive long shot which shows Robin and the King's men galloping toward the beach to meet the French soldiers and their King in battle. Even so, there is certainly an overwhelming sense that we've seen it all before and it was actually the least engaging part of the film, bordering on boring.
After the film finished everyone just got up and left, neither clap nor boo to be heard. That pretty much sums up how good it was really, fun while your watching it but quickly forgotten. What film am I reviewing again? Oh Robin Hood yes that's right. Anyway, I'm not ruining anything in telling you that the ending leaves it wide open for a sequel and Crowe himself has already stated that that is the plan. I definitely think it is worthy of a sequel and believe it could prove to be one of those rare sequels that is better that its predecessor.