Ok, there's a lot of ground to cover tonight so I'm just gonna jump right in. I am definitely late to the ridiculous party that is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves but in my defense I was barely starting to bottle feed when it first came out. Tonight, whilst revising a paper, I decided to give it a watch on Netflix because I'd heard Alan Rickman plays the bad guy and that's always fun.
This movie is bad. Maybe not like bad bad, God knows I've reviewed worse movies on here, but like the kind of bad where you cock you head to the side and go "really, movie? Really?"
So why exactly does Robin Hood incite many, many rounds of confused head-tilting? Let's find out! The movie begins with Robin in prison in Jerusalem because he's in the Crusades blah blah blah don't care. His prison buddy is about to get his hand cut off for no real reason apart from the fact that these are Evil Movie Muslims. Robin stands up and demands that they cut off his hand instead. He calmly places his hand on the chopping block, looks the guard in the eye and proclaims, "This is English courage!" Which would be bad-ass if not for one issue:
He doesn't even try for the accent. He just goes around thee-ing and thou-ing in the same voice you'd use to order a burger at a drive-thru. And in a film where he is surrounded by English accents, this is kind of embarrassing. And suddenly this scene from the parody Robin Hood: Men In Tights makes a lot more sense:
Moving on! Robin mounts a daring escape from the prison, leaving behind the majority of his countrymen but taking along Morgan Freeman, playing Azeem the Token Good Muslim/Foreigner/Black Devil/Noble Savage/Seriously Morgan Freeman You Are Too Good For This. Azeem vows to stick with Robin til he repays the fact that Robin saved his life. The two bicker about cultural differences nonsense, Robin takes every opportunity to point out that his religion is stupid and in return Azeem treats him like he's retarded and every time Robin isn't looking, makes this face:
Of course the two grow to love and mutually respect one another blah blah blah let's get to the good part!
While Robin and King Richard have been off crusading and whatnot, the Sheriff of Nottingham has turned a good chunk of England into his own personal Bitchville. Nottingham is played by Alan Rickman on what was presumably mounds of cocaine. According to the story, Rickman passed on the role twice, uninterested in playing the sheriff until the producers begged him, claiming he could do the character however his twisted heart desires. We end up with a Nottingham who is so psychotically over the top he could make William Shatner appear subtle. Not a single piece of scenery goes unchewed. He has the most outlandishly crazed lines and all are accompanied by bizarre facial twitches that could almost be seen as winks to the camera if he wasn't playing it so straight. Here are some of my favorite lines of his where I had to literally pause, back up, and watch again:
(To Robin) "Loxley, I’m gonna cut your heart out with a SPOON!"
(To one of his minions after being told the peasants all love Robin Hood) "That's it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings," (starts out the door, then pauses and calls back) "and call off Christmas!"
(Two wenches are outside his door) (to Wench 1) "You. My room. 10:30 tonight" to Wench 2) "You. 10:45... And bring a friend"
Yeah. Even Tim Curry, the hammiest ham, got nothin' on Nottingham.
(the Cynic was then beaten until she promised never to pun again)
Also Nottingham uses this ugly-ass old lady named Mortianna to crack bloody eggs and see the future and crap. Dunno, she's just creepy as hell, and also ends up being his mommy, surprising no one. More to the point: Robin and Azeem, after pissing off Nottingham good and proper, take refuge in Sherwood Forest, hanging out with the local outlaws like Little John and Will Scarlet, played by Christian Slater, the only person who is more vocally embarrassing than Kevin Costner. He broods at the edge of the story, waiting for his plot twist and switching back and forth between bad English accent and no English accent to pass the time. Still, he does contribute the best non-Nottingham line in the film:
Anyway, it all goes as expected, I mean who doesn't know the Robin Hood story? The peasants rebel, Notty gets pissed, they play the "Oh no! Robin Hood's dead!" game for a full five minutes, plots are twisted, Marian is kidnapped. (oh yeah, haven't mentioned her yet, have I? She starts out bad-ass by attacking dudes with a sword in full armor and just gets wussier and wussier throughout the movie until she is a quivering pile of useless). Notty tries to force a marriage out of her, gets his ass kicked by Robin, the fat friar pushes a dude out of a window and then everyone is happy and Robin and Marian are to be wed finally after TWO AND A HALF GODDAMN HOURS OF MOVIE when suddenly, who shows up to interrupt their wedding with a good old fashioned "I object!" but...Sean Connery!
Yeah, King Richard returns triumphantly, and by triumphantly I mean looking deeply confused and acting like he was only a few minutes late to the movie instead of nearly three hours. He's all like "N'aw, I've been here. For reals. You just missed me. btw, you kids can totally get married, I just wanted to make an entrance. Robin, you're an all right dude, and Marian, you be looking sexyfine. Laters!"
And he's gone. They kiss, roll credits.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for random acts of Connery but...but WHY?! There was no reason for that! It was totally out of nowhere, ground everything to a halt and vanished as quickly as it came, like some kind of Connery-specter. What the hell?!
In the end, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a bloated, LONG, mess of a movie that takes itself too seriously and has a range of acting from "legally dead" to "just took three tabs of acid" This earns Robin Hood one and a half catapults out of five, the half being for Alan Rickman, whose blatant hammy craziness is almost worth the ungodly runningtime. Almost.
This is Sugary Cynic, reminding you to call off Christmas and bring a friend to my chambers or your heart's coming out via spoon. 'Night!
(After stabbing his cousin, Sir Guy of Grisbane)
Nottingham: "Well at least I didn't use a spoon!"