A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Robin Hood adaptation is quite violent: There's a lot of realistic medieval warfare (not ultra-stylized like in some other movies) in the two-hour-plus movie, and a significant body count. Otherwise, there's just a few scenes of sexuality: one couple is interrupted in bed, but there's no nudity, plus some kissing, flirting, and innuendo. A few scenes show the Friar and Merry Men drinking too much honey mead or wine, and the language is limited to insults like the occasional "bastard" or "traitor." On a positive note, the rights of all individuals and villagers are championed over the tyrannical rights of the king.
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What's the story?
Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is an archer on King Richard the Lionheart's (Danny Huston) medieval crusade. When the king falls in battle in France, Robin and his friends Alan A'Dale (Alan Doyle), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), and Little John (Kevin Durand) escape and find the king's circle of knights have been ambushed in the woods by an English traitor, Godfrey (Mark Strong), and a band of Frenchmen. Robin encounters a dying Sir Robert Locksley and promises to fulfill his last wish of returning his sword to his father in Nottingham. Upon returning to England disguised as knights, Robin and his Merry Men travel to Nottingham, where an elderly, blind Sir Walter Locksley (Max von Sydow) asks Robin to pretend to be his son and husband to Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), in exchange for the sword and information about the orphaned Robin's past. The young, shallow King John (Oliver Isaac) imposes a hefty pay-or-burn tax on the Northern territories, but it's soon discovered Godfrey is in cahoots with the French King and is purposely sowing unrest so French troops can invade. Robin and company take action, fall for Nottingham's women, and step up to protect the town and their country from injustice.
Is it any good?
After his paunchy characters in State of Play and Body of Lies, it's refreshing to see Crowe back in action-hero form as the legendary Robin Hood. His fifth collaboration with director Ridley Scott isn't as excellent an epic as Gladiator, but it features some terrific performances by some of today's very best actors -- from Crowe and Blanchett to von Sydow and Eileen Atkins (Eleanor of Aquitaine). It would be virtually impossible for Crowe or Blanchett to deliver anything less than a remarkable performance together, and their banter and chemistry is palpable, even if you must dispense with all memories of Marion being a maid; she's a widowed but fierce "lady" in this revisionist origin story. Even the Merry Men shine as they provide much-needed comic relief. Grimes and Durand, who are better known for their roles on the TV dramas ER and Lost, are particularly well cast.
The political intrigue and Robin's backstory bog down the momentum, making the movie feel even longer than its 131 minutes. Yes, it's long and serious, and quite violent for a PG-13 film, but it's definitely worth seeing for the understated acting and some of the beautifully executed battle scenes (there's just something special about framing an aerial shot of hundreds of arrows descending onto their targets). Don't expect an Alan Rickman-worthy Sherriff of Nottingham, because the lawman barely gets a cameo in this one (and is played by Matthew Macfadyen). For that matter, don't rely on your memory of Robin as outlaw at all, because this is the story of what happened before he was a wanted prince of thieves. Go for the legend, stay for the performances.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the Robin Hood legend has been portrayed in media. How is this version of the legend different than others? Which do you prefer -- this origin story with an older Robin, ones with an already outlaw Robin, or adaptations with a much-younger Robin, Marian, and Merry Men? Why?
This Robin Hood character hasn't really begun to steal from the rich and redistribute to the poor, but he does call for the king to allow for more individual rights. What's the message about kings and their subjects? If Robin Hood were alive today, where would he fit into modern society?
Why do you think there was so much violence in this movie? Did it make the movie feel more realistic, or was the violence gratuitous? What kind of impact does watching movie violence have on you?
What does Robin mean when he says no king has the right to keep a man from providing for his family? What do you think about his idea that if most people disagree with a law, they should not obey it? Do you see that happen anywhere in modern society?
- In theaters: May 14, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: September 21, 2010
- Cast: Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, Russell Crowe, William Hurt
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.