My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on two period pieces films I watched in reference to the series I’m currently producing.
ROB ROY (1995)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I watched ROB ROY again for the most random reason: to practice my accent for a part I played in the TV series I’m working on.
The first time I saw the film, still absolutely blinded by the love of BRAVEHEART, I didn’t care for it at all. Years ago, I revisited ROB BOY while on an enthusiastic binge of Alan Sharp-scripted movies. Then, I found it to be a much more mature motion picture than the Mel Gibson Scottish film (which I still love). Seeing it this time reminded me of its strengths, though the comparison between the two movies now feels quite silly.
They’re completely different pictures, only set in the same country. BRAVEHEART is a war picture with little touches of Robin Hood while ROB is really more of a Western. Alan Sharp transposes a story and characters who would have worked perfectly in the American frontier to the lush green mountains of Scotland. Next time you watch it, try imagining all the sequences set in Arizona with cowboy hats and gunslingers.
Director Michael Caton-Jones does a fine job with the movie, not getting in its way with excessive style but letting the story play out in a simple effective manor. What happened to his career? From his work in the early 90s, it seemed like Caton-Jones might have been a sturdy craftsman who could deliver strong dramatic pictures. Perhaps he got sucked up in the vacuum when all the mid-range budget movies became extinct…
Watched on Tubi.
ROBIN HOOD (2010)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
I avoided Ridley Scott’s ROBIN HOOD like the plague for many, many years, mostly because I think the filmmaker jumped the shark two decades ago but also because it didn’t look any good. Currently producing and directing small pieces of a period piece battle sequence, I thought I’d finally turn to this film to see if it could be a reference of what to do and what not to do.
When it comes to action photography and choreography, it was neither an inspiration or example of poor practices. As usual in Scott’s films, the action is not the issue. An early siege is fairly well staged and the finale set on a beach with a Normandy-style attack is more creative than many have given it credit for being (at least it’s something we haven’t seen in a Robin Hood film before). If Scott’s HOOD is guilty of anything in the action realm, it is creating nothing memorable as he did in GLADIATOR or even the climactic action of BLADE RUNNER.
But not much in general is now memorable from Scott’s work and ROBIN HOOD is a perfect example of that. It’s stacked with stars but the only one of them who really stands out is Oscar Isaac, brilliant casting for Prince John but underused. Russell Crowe is boring (and maybe bored?) playing the prince of thieves. Cate Blanchett is such a misguided choice for Marion that everyone involved in that decision should be put in a straight jacket. The rest, including some great actors like William Hurt, just blend into the grey/green milieu and over-complicated story. It all lacks a dramatic punch, existing for no good reason than to make another big, “epic” movie. At least in the development of this film (which I followed at the time), there were ideas about doing something new with the Robin Hood story: having Crowe play the Sheriff of Nottingham, having Robin be a true criminal. But somewhere in the trimming down of screenplays, those fresh ideas were cut off and left behind a film that isn’t as bad as some people have claimed but really shouldn’t have been made.
Watched on Tubi.