A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the 1991 blockbuster movie in which Kevin Costner plays the mythical medieval hero known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Medieval graphic violence dominates this film, and that there are some particularly gory moments. The film opens with a painful torture scene in which a man's arm is chopped off with a machete, and later a man is burned to death. A man knifes his unsuspecting cousin, an illegitimate (and angry) half-brother appears, a painful childbirth scene (implied caesarian), a hanging, villages are destroyed, innocent children are threatened, explosions, a beloved character dies, and one nearly drowns. There is also an attempted rape, and a scary, creepy witch. "F--k" is used on one occasion, as well as some references to sex, and jokes centered on male genitalia. There is brief male nudity (buttocks) when Robin Hood emerges from skinny-dipping in a lake.
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What's the story?
In ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, Robin Hood (Kevin Costner), freshly returned from the Crusades, sees the ruin that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) and his thugs have brought to England and vows to right the wrongs. When his father is murdered, Robin seeks revenge on the Sheriff. He joins up with Little John, Azeem the Moor (Morgan Freeman), Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and an army of scrappy villagers in an attempt to get rid of the no-good Sheriff of Nottingham and his nasty thugs for good.
Is it any good?
Although this version of the legend reveals more of Robin Hood's backstory, it tries to incorporate something for everyone and is too violent for kids. The film relies on the familiarity of the plot to build extraneous plot twists, upon which most of the suspense lies. Viewers will be asking, "When will (x) happen?" as opposed to, "What will happen next?" Teens who aren't bothered by this will love the courageous actions of Robin Hood and his Merry Men and the exciting battle sequences.
Parents will secretly root for Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham, who sparkles in contrast to Costner's dull Robin Hood. Costner merely floats along, leaving any sense of urgency or drama to the Merry Men, villagers, and the exciting visual effects. Sadly, although Marian first appears a strong, independent, brave young woman, by the end of the film she has relapsed into the stereotypical damsel in distress. The film wobbles between stilted, "medieval-like" dialogue and American accents from the majority of the main characters, an issue compounded by historical errors throughout the film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Robin Hood's choices are often between the lesser of two evils. Do two wrongs ever make a right? (For example, robbing the rich to feed the poor?)
Does the graphic violence seem necessary to tell the story and heighten the conflicts and drama, or does it seem merely added to provide gratuitous entertainment?
This is obviously a story that is known far and wide, and had been already been made into a movie several times over by the time this version came out in 1991. What would be the challenges in making a movie that has already been done before? How does this movie stick close to the legend, and how does it take liberties?
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