After seeing the travesty which is Ridley Scott’s current incarnation of Robin Hood (2010), I decided to watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), which I hadn’t viewed in ten years or so. My ultimate goal was to determine if this year’s grim release is the dullest version yet. And I knew the top shelf Robin Hood was, is, and forever shall be Errol Flynn. But Kevin Kostner?
I remembered Prince of Thieves as being fairly good. In watching the extended version over the weekend it dawned on me that my memory may be a bit better than the reality. It is by no means a bad film and nothing even along the lines of Russell Crowe and his dreadful turn as the master of Sherwood. And probably better than Sean Connery’s turn as an aging Robin in Robin and Marian (1976). Connery is by far a much better actor than Costner and, although R&M is a dreary movie, it is intentionally so; portraying their advancing years and thoughts of the next life.
Prince of Thieves, like every filmed incarnation of the Robin Hood legend, takes its own angle on the story. There are bits and pieces of the Flynn story but for the most part it is a new twist, with the evil Sir Guy being the unknowing son of an evil crone who seeks to marry him to Marian and put him on the throne.
The part of Prince of Thieves which ages so badly is the costuming. There are lots of sequins and other flashy accessories which really look……well, like the 1980s to be honest. And the hairstyles of Robin, Marian, and Sir Guy are all straight out of the big 80s. Kind of like a masquerade ball if you will. And the surprise appearance of Connery himself as King Richard almost steals the show.
Otherwise production qualities are good and the film is quite satisfying. The extended version was a bit longer than it needs to be – the added footage didn’t add much to the end product. Highly recommended over today’s Robin Hood but equally secondary to the original classic The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Robin and Marian isn’t a bad film, but it is more about an aging couple facing their silver years that just happens to be Robin and Marian. It isn’t done particularly well or particularly badly, it merely comes off as very sobering. But more romantic than all but the original 1938 vehicle.
Of course, what makes the 1938 version the best is the same reasons that make it an all time classic and perhaps the best of Flynn’s many films. It has not only action, drama, and romance- all in nice doses- but also the amazing Technicolor visuals, outstanding casting and rousing score make the film a true masterpiece. It is hard to pick out a weak spot for the film and this is the version all must have in their collection.
And for the record, we know there are sequins aplenty in the Flynn vehicle, but we are going to overlook those in light of their more understated presentation. Here they add to, rather than detract from, the proceedings. Prince of Thieves in many scenes appears more akin to Rhinestone Cowboy with all the glitter.
Robin Hood (2010) gives the gritty forward to the saga, while POT and TAORH provide the middle, and RAM concludes the story. Scott’s 2010 version is by far the most realistic and grim version but also the one lacking the most life as well. Crowe, although good here, is by no means at his best. Scott, on the other hand, seems entirely confused as to which film he would like to mirror first. Is it Saving Private Ryan or his own Gladiator? The masses surely will like it – as the grosses confirm.
Perhaps the most offensive part was at the end where the text “And so the legend begins…” appears on the screen. Damn it man, that is upsetting. At least pretend to give us the best story up front and not string us out for multiple pictures of this swill. (YES, I ARE MAD!)
Something we all perhaps should watch, if for no other reason than a comparison with the other versions. But, at $10.50 or more a pop for a ticket, one can definitely wait for DVD or on demand for viewing.
Note to Warners, perhaps rerelease The Adventures of Robin Hood, eh? Imagine what that movie would earn today if it were new…without the CGI. Without the sequels. With a Maid Marian which actually plays a role in the picture. Magic.