Movie Review Double Feature: Thieves and Dragons
Sorry this is a bit late – LOST Series Finale madness has infected my household, along with watching all four of the X-Movies (many of which I know by heart) and prepping to do a guest spot on the Masks of the Silver Screen podcast. We’re taping tonight!!
The DH (Dan) and I are also remodeling our condo and work has picked up, so I’ll probably average about one or two posts a week until June. I promise more comic book and nerd news in the future. But while you’re waiting…why not feast on this awesome two-fer movie review?
First off – this flick gets marked down at least 5 points for not having a creative title ala Robin Hood: Men in Tights or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Seriously, you are up against some tough competition here folks. Step up your title game please. Thanks.
Secondly – a quote from Twitter a few weeks ago is haunting me wherein I claimed to have never met a Ridley Scott movie I didn’t like. OK, I don’t DISLIKE “Robin Hood” to the degree that some folks do (re: Dan) but I did have some issues with it. Here’s a list!
1. Marketing: Whenever somebody cuts a trailer of a period piece with rock music blaring over it…that’s a bad sign. Whenever a trailer and marketing team deliberately mask what a movie is really about…that’s also a bad sign. I honestly came to this movie expecting Russell Crowe kicking mad ass and shooting lots of arrows. LOTS OF ARROWS. Instead…there’s a few scenes of fighting but it’s mostly centered on some compelling, but distracting English history. I paid $10 to see Russell Crowe banter, look cool and kill folks old school style. Therein lies the rub.
2. Pacing: Cut off the first 45 minutes of this film or at least condense it down to five. You are catering to an audience weaned and suckled on sprawling Hollywood epics, we can follow the plot without 45 minutes of filmed back story. Seriously – throw up some title cards and cut to Russell Crowe returning home from the Crusades. In fact, for dramatic purposes, make him the real Robin (not Robert) of Locksley, who abandoned his new wife and elderly father to war for 10 years. That gives him (and the film) some dramatic tension as well as a chance for us to see character arch and growth.
3. Character Arch: There was none. Not really. Pretty much the whole film he is not on board with the Monarchy. Sure, he woos the pretty Cate Blanchett but other than that, there aren’t many layers to this onion. Sooo…create some! We watched the one-hour pilot of the BBC serialized Robin Hood adventures, and they managed to adequately provide back story and some character arch. Something 150 minutes of movie wasn’t capable of doing. Yikes.
4. Ladies: There are three of you. Compared to about 20 dudes (a few of whom look alike) who get more screen time. Maid Marian nearly gets raped towards the end of the film (sadly in line with “Prince of Thieves”). And totally fucks up an awesome opportunity to seek revenge by falling off her horse. What I learned from this movie as a woman: you will probably be almost-raped when the French sack your township, and in seeking revenge for the death of your father-in-law…you will fail. But your fake-husband will finish the job for you. And take all the credit for the 10 years you held the town together after he paraded off to war. Being a woman in Robin Hood times SUCKS. The other ladies are schemers. We are pre-disposed to hate female schemers…so there you have it.
CONCLUSION: The movie itself was intriguing, but the packaging gave no indication of what would actually unfold on-screen. Studios – stop lying to us to get us in your seats! Would I ever watch “Robin Hood” again? Probably not. But that’s only because Disney ruined me for any non-fox Thief Prince long ago. It’s tough to take on a classic.
PS – Robin Hood is a socialist! He’s a communist! He wanted people to spread the wealth and not tax the poor. *sigh* Applying our standards of politics to 17th century monarchies is asinine. So stop doing it. Instead, think of how all this body of history INFORMS our politics of today…rather than trying to read how Hollywood is forcing liberal ideas on poor unsuspecting movie-goers…many of whom are too complacent to care anyway.
Hosted a bevy of young, talented (if slightly goofy looking) Hollywood comedic talent, from the main character Hiccup voiced by Jay Baruchel to Gerard Butler as his Stoick father (OK – he’s ruggedly handsome, but have you seen the way his mouth moves when he talks? Goofy).
There’s also a few of the fallback funny folks that we’ve come to expect in literally every comedic bit part that Hollywood has to offer – Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Christoper Mintz-Plasse. We love these people, but many of them have (or will have) flicks in the box office alongside “Dragon.” It doesn’t matter that it’s voice acting – we know who you are! And frankly…there can be too much of a good thing. Let’s call it the “Seth Rogen” factor. I loved that guy but then it was like a Seth-Rogen-Film-a-Thon every weekend. Yikes. We used to call that over-exposure, but I guess now it’s business as usual.
Anywho – one person I was pleasantly surprised to see as a voice actor in this film was America Ferrera. I’ve hoped to see her branching out from Ugly Betty and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants type fare. Astrid was an awesome female character and it was pleasant to see a little color-blind casting in the voice work.
Full disclosure: We only saw this flick because it has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. And since we missed seeing “Up” in the theatres last year – I didn’t want to lose out on the exciting 3D world “Dragon” has to offer. Unless something else arrives to blow it out of the water – this critically acclaimed kids flick will probably win out for animation.
I’m not sure why. It has a nice heart, a solid story and a colorful cast of characters (vikings! with peg legs!) and dragons are fun…but nothing WOW’d the crap out of me with a stick. The Night Fury dragon, Toothless, is probably the most endearing character. I couldn’t watch him without thinking about my pug dog. There is literally so many pet vibes infused into this character, you will not be able to help falling in love with it.
Outside of that – I’m not sure what else is pumping up the ratings on this film. It really seemed like average kids fare to me. Probably slightly more entertaining to my nephews than “Iron Man 2,” but nothing on the “Wall-E” or “Up” level.
My nephews are probably more pumped for Toy Story 3 or “Shrek #57″ than this film. But perhaps that’s the beauty of it. It’s a quiet flick, without a lugubrious amount of merchandising and franchising, telling a pretty basic story for kids. It’s OK to be different and sometimes better to be friends than enemies. If you like your animated flicks with a message – this might be the only one to catch this summer.
PS – This film was ONLY playing in 3D at the Regal Cinemas theater we went to. THAT disturbs the shit out of me. This is what I was talking about in my 3D post last month folks – the revolution is coming, and it wants you to spend $13 a ticket for some fancy lights and colors. Yikes to that.
These might be my only movie reviews for awhile – in glancing through the May and June movie releases, nothing even looks marginally appealing. Jonah Hex had some draw, until Megan Fox appeared. Sorry, I just can’t support this broad. She’s an Angelina Jolie clone. It’s such a terrible dilemma – support Josh Brolin and comic book film adaptations, and suffer through a Fox performance? I shall pass, most likely.
Anything I’m missing?
Tags: America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, communist, dragons, Gerard Butler, Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hex, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Prince of Persia, Ridley Scott, Robin Hood, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Russell Crowe, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Shrek Forever After, socialist, Stoick, The Last Airbender, Toy Story 3, vikings