The good news for Russell Crowe and Robin Hood is that it does remind you of one of the great movies about the Middle Ages. The bad news is that that movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
This fantastically inept and bizarrely shapeless blob of a movie becomes laughable almost immediately, when Cate Blanchett’s Lady Marion steps up and fires an arrow hundreds of yards with blistering accuracy despite being approximately the weight of a longbow herself.
Russell Crowe’s Robin Longstride is a hazily defined figure who first finds himself fighting for a king he can’t stand, the crusader Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston, whose Pippi Longstocking/Robert Plant hairdo makes it hard to imagine anyone would be happy to go to war on his behalf), then (in what is played as a heroic moment) robs a dead knight named Robert of Locksley of his equipment and valuables, deciding to pass himself off as the dead man for as long as he can get away with it. Fully an hour of the movie goes by in which the major challenge is whether or not Robin can make good on his promise to the dying Locksley — to deliver his sword to his family up in Nottingham. Yes, this movie is about as exciting as a UPS run.
Meanwhile, Prince John (a whiny Oscar Isaac) takes advantage of Richard’s death to seize the crown — but he is even more of a jerk than his dead brother. He bickers endlessly with his mother and his chancellor (William Hurt) about taxation, finally deciding to send the evil knight Godfrey (the perpetually scowling Mark Strong, who was also the bad guy in Kick-Ass and Sherlock Holmes) to shake down the country’s landowners with orders to pay up or pay with their lives. Godfrey is secretly working for the French king, but why should we care? It’s not as though we’re given any reason to hope things work out for the mincing, duplicitous John, who is so foolish he actually seem surprised that this marauding psychopath is a double agent. “My friend Godfrey is not the friend I thought he was,” he muses. No kidding.
Nothing else in the movie sparks any reaction other than disbelief. Not the dumb dialogue that veers wildly back and forth between prithee-milady type ye olde speeches, awkward japery, and gratingly contemporary chatter. “Leave no stone unscorched!” goes one typical would-be rousing line. Yep, burn some rocks. That’ll teach em. When Robin first meets Marion, she says, “Plain Robin Longstride? No ‘Sir’?” “No ‘Sir,’ no Ma’am,” he responds. Forsooth, ’tis not funny. When John fires his chancellor, he tells the court the man is leaving “to spend more time with his family.”