Everything You Missed In ‘Robin Hood,’ According To The Reviews


You could be forgiven for thinking Robin Hood, starring Taron Egerton, which opened this past weekend, was part of some expanded universe that also includes Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur movie from last year starring Charlie Hunnam. As it turns out, nope, that was just different chav-y reboot of a medieval English folk tale with anachronistic dialogue and athleisure inspired costumes. Who could’ve guessed we would one day look upon A Knight’s Tale with such genuine nostalgia?

No, it turns out this one was directed by Otto Bathurst (an episode of Black Mirror, three episodes of Peaky Blinders) and, judging by the paltry box office numbers, not many people saw it. Which may, just as in King Arthur‘s case, once again foil ambitious plans for eventual sequels. Both were revisionist origin stories, and both apparently end with portentous shots of the hero Doing That Thing We Know Them For (in King Arthur‘s case, it was a round table just being built).

In case you’re just a little curious about what we missed, I’ve brought back my old feature, Plot Recreated With Reviews, for the occasion. That’s when we try to piece together the entire plot of a movie using nothing but expository quotes from movie reviews (no analysis!). Because there’s no better way to experience a bad movie than having bored critics describe it to you.

“This isn’t a bedtime story,” a narrator insists early in Robin Hood. (TimeOut)

…declaring that [he] could explain “the history but you wouldn’t listen.” (SF Chronicle)

“I would tell you what year it is, but … I can’t remember,” Robin utters. (Hollywood Reporter)

Nottingham, a city rarely celebrated for its azure coastline, is re-imagined as a dusty Mediterranean fantasy with dreaming spires and exotically dressed clergy. (Irish Times)

Taron Egerton (from the “Kingsman” movies) plays Robin of Loxley, a soft and spoiled lord of the manor in Nottingham who has the hair and the dental work and the attitude of the leader of a boy band maybe two years past its prime, even though this story is set approximately 800 years ago. (Chicago Sun-Times)

When Rob — that’s what he goes by, because of course (Detroit News)

…catches a plucky, sass-talking, would-be thief (Eve Hewson) trying to make off with one of his horses, he tells her she can have the horse — if she’ll tell him her name. It’s Marian. Maid Marian. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Marian is covered in a hood, with a scarf covering half of her face and a dress that covers her up entirely — except for her chest, due to a very deep, low-cut front. (TheWrap)

Thus begins a fairy tale romance. (Chicago Sun-Times)

“They were young, in love, and that was all that mattered, until the cold hand of fate reached out for them,” the narrator notes of the couple’s early days, during which they are seen kissing while backing each other into a wall. (New York Times)

A montage in which the two basically seem to be non-stop fornicating is abruptly interrupted when the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn, in peak Ben Mendelsohn mode) drafts [Robin] into the army to fight the Moors. (Daily Beast)

His call-up papers demand that he report for the “Third Crusade in Arabia,” (as if someone were asked to report to “the first World War” in 1914). (IrishTimes)

Flash forward four years. We catch up with Robin as his unit embarks on an invasion of an Arabian stronghold that results in much bloodshed on both sides, and many highly stylized, sometimes even slo-mo sequences of combatants flying through the air and performing feats of acrobatic killing. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Dressing the crusaders in grey uniforms with padded tunics that look like flak jackets, the filmmakers re-imagine that ancient conflict as the second Iraq War. Catapults stand in for airstrikes. A complex crossbow does the job of a machine gun. (Irish Times)

Never does Robin miss his target, but he does get hit once, which gets him shipped back home. (Hollywood Reporter)

Jamie Foxx plays a great Arab warrior who barely survives that aforementioned invasion. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Foxx’s fierce soldier has stowed away and turns up in middle England, too. (Hollywood Reporter)

When Robin is unable to pronounce the warrior’s name, the warrior tells him to go with the English translation: John. As in, Little John. (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Thank you for your service” is the first line Robin of Loxley hears upon returning from fighting in the Crusades in Arabia. (Patriot Ledger)

Robin is gone so long that, like the Tom Hanks character in “Cast Away,” by the time he returns home, everyone has long assumed he was dead. (In fact, there’s a scene in “Robin Hood” in which an old friend talks about the memorial service, a la “Cast Away.”) (Chicago Sun-Times)

The Lord finds that his Manor has been foreclosed upon by the Sheriff after the newly appointed man of clergy law declared him dead two years earlier and seized his land as part of a War Tax. (BirthMoviesDeath)

Marian is now with the politically ambitious man of the people Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan), who has a pronounced Irish accent even though we’re not in Ireland — but they’re hopelessly overmatched by the forces of the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham, who seems to have cornered the market on three-quarters length, powder-blue leather jackets offset by tastefully muted wool vests and a haircut with just the right edge. (Chicago Sun-Times)

The oddest sequence in the film (and that’s saying something) finds our protagonist throwing up violently when he spots Marian snogging a notably unmelodic Will [Scarlet]. (Irish Times)

She feeds the laborers while wearing full mascara and a series of leather jackets that she appears to have stolen from the set of “Gossip Girl.” (Indiewire)

The Sheriff is in cahoots with a cruel and greedy Cardinal (F. Murray Abraham), who reveals that they’re secretly funding both the Christians and the Muslims overseas to keep the war machine going and the gold pouring into the coffers of the local mine and foundry, which employs much of the local population and belches flame and toxic fumes. (RogerEbert.com)

And did you know that the sheriff, as a boy, had been diddled by priests? (RollingStone)

Egged on by Little John, who has come to England in hopes of ending the Crusades by cutting off their funding, Robin begins to carry out ever-larger heists of the state’s treasury. (Washington Post)

John trains Robin in a montage straight out of a “Karate Kid” or “Rocky” movie. (Chicago Sun-Times)

John gives him advanced lessons in archery. (Miami New Times)

He has Robin lift two wagon wheels like they’re a barbell. (New York Post)

There’s even a fast-cut montage of Rob pumping olde-worlde irone in pursuit of a decidedly 21st-century six-pack. (London Evening Standard)

Robin, John and their allies start stealing gold from the bad guys. At the same time, Robin ingratiates himself into the Sheriff’s inner circle, gathering intelligence for his growing rebellion, and uncovering a conspiracy to subjugate the people that’s even more awful than what he’d imagined. (RogerEbert.com)

He’s a 14th-century Batman (“The Hood,” the public comes to call him). (AV Club)

What’s with all the fitted leisurewear? Was that a T-shirt we just saw? Are we in a desert, a fortress or a video game? (TimeOut)

Nottingham looks like a Roman fortress where everybody shops at Zara. (New York Post)

Every arrow hits an artery and every explosion sounds like a bomb. (RollingStone)

Rob sports a quilted leather jacket with a hood that looks like an NBA player showing up to an arena. (Detroit News)

some of the yummiest custom-cut leather jackets in cinema history… (RogerEbert.com)

…buxom lady horse-thieves dress themselves for a night of crime displaying several inches of showy cleavage, contained only by a glorified shoelace. (TheGuardian)

At one point, the camera lingers on a shirtless Robin as he nurses a leg wound (for some reason his pants are on but his shirt is not). (Miami New Times)

Just don’t expect any Sherwood Forest, merry men or bright colors. Nottingham is a mining town where soot is a fashion statement. (RollingStone)

There is not a single feather in a single pointy hat. (New York Post)

True to the Robin Hood myth, the money goes straight back to the people. Soon, that altruism inspires a grass-roots rebellion, with Robin leading the downtrodden masses in an armed uprising against an unjust tax system. (Washington Post)

Robin tries to pump up a peasant army he’s recruited for an uprising by bellowing, “I’m guessing you’d all be up for a little redistribution of wealth!” (Daily Beast)

“Don’t handle me,” one character barks, while another begins his peacekeeping appeal with a “Look, I get it.” (AV Club)

“This is not gonna end well,” says our hero’s sidekick, Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin). (Washington Post)

“What else ya got?,” “I wanna go big” “Are we really gonna do this now?” (Washington Post)

“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” (TheWrap)

[The Sheriff] threatens to boil someone in their own piss. (Indiewire)

Robin’s rebel faction is tossing Molotov cocktails over the riot-geared police force of Nottingham, and it’s been suggested that the church’s Crusade is in cahoots with “the Arabians.” (Vulture)

At one point, the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham, who’s presented as a Trump-Bolsonaro-Le Pen-styled nationalist/racist despot, quotes George W. Bush’s post-9/11 statement “They hate us for our freedom,” in reference to the Muslim hordes that the Christian warriors are fighting overseas. (RogerEbert.com)

Many killings and beatings happen, but curiously enough there’s never any bloodshed, even when Jamie Foxx’s Moorish soldier, John, loses a hand. (PatriotLedger)

Shot with all the style and nuance of an early 2000s Mountain Dew commercial directed by a film grad that just watched The Matrix for the first time… (Daily Beast)

…drenched in one of those pounding Dunkirk-like scores (TimeOut)

viewed through a Guy Ritchie-style geezer-prism that makes every line of dialogue sound like the precursor to a punch-up in a kebab shop. (TheGuardian)

The nadir is an incomprehensible horse and cart chase around some portion of Nottingham (or is it the mines?) where sulfur pits fire from the ground like an ’80s dystopia movie. (Den of Geek)

In the end “Robin Hood,” succumbs to Marvel/DC syndrome, presumptuously setting up a sequel that it’s hard to imagine anyone demanding. (RogerEbert.com)

Only in the final minutes do we catch a verdant glimpse of Sherwood Forest, which the filmmakers are saving for a sequel that probably won’t get made. (AV Club)

After the closing conflagration, a hopeful voice tells us that this is not the end of the story. I’m betting it is. (Irish Times)

Mark my words, some day there will be a coffee table book about failed attempts to kickstart a movie franchise, and Robin Hood will be an entire chapter.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can find his archive of reviews here.