The Friday Movie Blog

Did Disney do Robin Hood best?

Sitting in the AMC Cherry Hill theater, watching the preview of Robin Hood (R), I kept thinking one thing: I’m really bored. (Well, that and it’s been years since I’ve listened to Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.) It was frustrating because I couldn’t figure out why. The film’s pedigree is unsurpassed. Ridley Scott directing Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and William Hurt? All four are multi-Oscar nominees/winners. Even Max von Sydow is in it—who played chess against death in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.[SIGNUP]

But as the action continued, I was surprised by how little energy there was in the storytelling. Possibly it might be because I was expecting the typical Robin Hood story (which has been told many, many, many times). This movie is not focused on the battle between Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham—in fact, the Sheriff is merely a slimy bit part. Instead, it focuses on how he became Robin Hood. (The movie should really have been called Robin Hood: Origins.) Yet even with this original take on a common story, several scenes feel vaguely familiar. The great battles recall Gladiator (the superior Scott and Crowe film). Robin’s rousing speech in front of the men recalls Braveheart. Even a pivotal moment where the invading French land on English soil vaguely resembles a 12th-century version of Saving Private Ryan’s opening scene. Additionally, while brilliant actors, Blanchett and Crowe simply do not have the fiery chemistry you would expect or want between Marian and Robin. Yet thankfully, at least this Robin Hood has a British accent (suck it, Kevin Costner).

So this weekend I still think you should see this—especially if you are a Scott, Crowe, Blanchett, Robin Hood, or battle movie fan. Why? Because it’s a superior option than seeing Furry Vengeance. I, however, will be taking time to rewatch what I think is the ultimate version of the Robin Hood story: Disney’s 1973 animated movie. I might even play the Bryan Adams song on loop. (In theaters; click here to see where it’s playing near you.)

My Grade: C

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Letters to Juliet (PG) screening with Michael McCormick, the design director of Philadelphia magazine. So instead of doing the typical write-up this week, I thought it would be funner (read: take less time) for me to interview him and get his opinions on the movie. But to be honest, I just didn’t want to try to write a plot synopsis—for being a romantic comedy it has truly detailed and extensive expositions. Let’s see how well he does:

How would you describe the plot of Letters to Juliet to someone who hasn’t seen it? A girl [Amanda Seyfried] who works for the New Yorker goes to … somewhere in Italy I guess… to, uh… with her fiancée [Gael García Bernal], who is a restaurateur doing research for a restaurant he’s opening in New York. It’s supposed to be a pre-honeymoon but he ends up spending most of his time at wine auctions and trying to make pasta or something.

So one day she goes sightseeing at the place where Romeo and Juliet supposedly happened. There were all these girls crying at this wall… this thing… and they were writing letters to Juliet. And then at the end of the day, a lady with a basket came along and collected the letters and brought them to another group of ladies who answer the letters that the crying ladies write to Juliet.

The girl from New York decides to help them to answer the ladies, and she finds a letter that was written fifty years ago. And she writes to… the woman who wrote the letter… and, uh… then the woman [Vanessa Redgrave] who wrote the letter… and the woman’s grandson [Christopher Egan]…come to the place where Romeo and Juliet happened to try to find her lost love.

Wow. Any way you could describe the plot in less than 20 words? After answering an old letter, Seyfreid begins to question her relationship as she helps Redgrave find her lost love … in Italy.

21, but I’ll allow it. You tend to cry at movies. Did anything in this movie make you cry? Well I cried because it was really sad that Vanessa Redgrave was in a movie acting maternal to Amanda Seyfried. So the scenes where she was kinda maternal made me sad because they made me think of Natasha Richardson.

Why is Gael García Bernal so dreamy? He’s sort of not in this movie because he’s too busy with his wine and olive oil.

What did you like about this movie? I liked that it seemed like it was going to be like a more traditional romantic comedy but that it ended up being a little smarter and more resonant. Like Love Actually or Notting Hill.

Anything you didn’t like? I didn’t like the grandson guy. I didn’t think that was good casting.

Why? Because he was so pale? [Amanday Seyfreid and Christopher Egan] were both very pale.

How would you grade this movie? I’d give it a pretty solid B.

The correct answer is B+

(In theaters; click here to see where it’s playing near you.)