Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

They really should have called this "Robin Hood Begins."  Essentially this is the same as a recent spate of "reimagined" origin stories like "Batman Begins" or "Casino Royale" or "Star Trek."  Really only the first one of those worked for me; the other two strayed too far from the source material for me.

In this, Robin Longstrides (Russell Crowe) is a warrior with King Richard the "Lion Hearted" returning home from the Crusades.  He has his buddy Will Scarlet with him and soon meets and befriends Little John as well.  King Richard, Robin, and the others are ransacking French lands for the money and supplies needed to get back to England.  But then during a battle Richard is killed.

Afterwards, Sir Robert Loxley, is taking the crown back to England when he's ambushed by the French and killed.  Robin Longstrides and company drive off the attackers.  Robert asks Robin to take his sword back to his father in Nottingham.  So Robin takes Robert's clothes and steals his identity to get on board the ship to England.  He gives the crown to the king's mother, who in turn crowns her son John.  (It's been a few years before history class, but I thought you had more of a process than that.)

Then Robin and his band head up to Nottingham.  There he meets Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett), Robert Loxley's wife.  Robert's father is old, blind, and dying, so he asks Robin to pose as his son so that the king won't be able to take over the land.  As you'd expect, Robin and Marian start to fall in love.

Meanwhile, John's most trusted adviser is plotting to stir up rebellion in order to deliver England to the French.  The only way to stop him is for Robin, King John, and everyone else to band together.  Since they aren't speaking French in England now, you can probably guess what happens.

This movie was not as boring as I feared, but it wasn't all that great either.  The biggest mistake was director Ridley Scott casting his old buddy Russell Crowe in the lead.  At 46, Crowe is too old to play a dashing outlaw, especially one at the start of his career.  He's also too dour to be the charismatic ringleader of the Merry Men.  From a practical standpoint it also doesn't make sense to cast someone that old because it sort of lessens the sequel potential.

On the plus side, at least the traditional elements were there:  Robin, Little John, Marian, Friar Tuck, the Sheriff, King John, and so forth.  Sherwood Forest doesn't really come into it until the end, though.  At least though it wasn't like "Casino Royale" where they took out Q, most of the neat gadgets, and so forth that Bond pictures.  So it's got that going for it.

The fight scenes are pretty reminiscent of Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Gladiator" which are both superior to this, though "Robin Hood" is more enjoyable on a popcorn level than "Kingdom of Heaven."  There seem to be a couple points in the story where things are a bit rushed, especially at the end.

But overall, it's better than the Kevin Costner version.  Which isn't saying much.  I'd still rather watch "Robin Hood:  Men in Tights."

That is all.

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)
Metacritic score:  53/100 (2 stars)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harry Brown

If you've watched movies like "Death Wish" or "Gran Torino" then you pretty much already know how "Harry Brown" is going to play out.  The only difference is that this vigilante movie is set in London instead of a US city like New York or Detroit or Chicago.  But crime, gangs, and drugs are pretty much universal in any big city.

Harry Brown (Michael Caine) was a decorated Marine during fighting with Northern Ireland years ago.  That was until he married his wife Cath, when he swore never to fight again.  He settled down and they had a daughter who died at age 13--a fact you don't know unless you watch the deleted scenes.

In present day Harry is old and his wife is dying from cancer--another fact you don't really know unless you watch the deleted scenes; all you know in the regular movie is that she's dying.  At the same time, his only friend Leonard is being harrassed by street punks led by the sadistic Noel.

Not long after Harry's wife dies, Leonard gets fed up and decides to confront Noel and the other punks.  As you'd expect, this doesn't go well.  Leonard is killed and Harry decides that he's going to take revenge on those responsible.

The rest of it pretty much goes according to formula.  At least the film stays somewhat grounded in the real world in that Harry never becomes Jason Bourne, performing any gravity-defying stunts.  At the same time, it never really strays too far from the safe and predictable.  As I sort of indicated, some of the deeper stuff about the characters got cut from the theatrical version.

The actors probably deserved a script that took a few more chances, but it's not a terrible film either.  If you liked "Gran Torino" then it's much the same, except no message about tolerance or anything.

That is all.

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

Metacritic score:  55/100 (2 stars)