Thursday, May 24, 2012

Flick of the Day: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

It can often be a fool's errand to revisit the things you loved from your childhood. For whatever reason, you can never really go back and enjoy the pastimes of your youth with the same level of engrossment. Very often, you find that the films, music, books and games and other elements of pop culture were not as good as you had thought at the time and worse than that you tarnish the memory of what they meant to you. Myself, well I can quite vividly remember singing Bryan Adams hit "Everything I do (I do it for you)" over the end credits of today's flick of the day in the Adelphi cinema in Dublin in 1991. As a child it was my favourite movie and this never seemed to diminish with another viewing. Suffice as to say, it is many years since I have sat down and watched it and for all that I have just said, I was tempted back into the Sherwood Forest of my youth where Robin Hood had an American accent and the Sheriff of Nottingham was a wondrously camp version of Hans Gruber from Die Hard. Today's flick of the day is the immortal Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
We meet our titular hero, played with cocksure abandon by a Kevin Costner at the height of his powers, in the cells of a Jerusalem prison after his capture during the last crusade of Richard the Lionheart, King of England. In a dashing escape he befriends and saves the life of a Muslim prisoner named Azeem, played by Morgan Freeman who indebted with his lie, vows to return to England with Robin. While Robin is making his way home, we learn that his father played by of all people Brian Blessed, has been murdered by the treacherous Sheriff of Nottingham. Nottingham is a wonderful over the top turn from Alan Rickman whose characterisation is a joy to behold throughout. Before long Robin arrives back on the shores of Dover and in an interesting geographical twist arrives in Nottingham not long thereafter.Befriending the lovely maid Marian, he vows revenge on his father's killer.
There is much here which the hip cynical twenty something in us all could find fault with not least Costner's inability to attempt an English accent, the appearance of Christian Slater as Will Scarlet and an ability to play fast and loose with both history and geography however for me, this is as enjoyable a romp as I once believed it to be. All of the leads give strong performances in a feel good adventure movie sense and in Rickman's Sheriff, the film has one of the most entertaining and scene stealing performances ever. Rickman portrays the villain as a buffoonish prig filled with pithy one liners. It is a delight.

[the Sheriff has said he'll cut out Robin Hood's heart with a spoon

Guy of Gisborne: Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe? 

Sheriff of Nottingham: Because it's DULL, you twit. It'll hurt more. 
Apart from this, the film delivers some great action scenes and successfully builds the tension as the film wears on and Robin is forced into a final confrontation with the dastardly Sheriff.
So then Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is that rare treat (from my perspective anyway), a childhood film which is as enjoyable 20 years later as it was on release. Sure it is over the top and glossy but it is just too much fun not to get dragged in. In comparison to the decidedly po-faced Russell Crowe version from 2010, this will have you cheering Robin on at the end and perhaps even singing along to Bryan Adams as well.

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