By: Felix Felicis (Five Beers) –
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they record-scratch-freeze-frame wonder how they got themselves into a situation. Usually it’s a kitten hanging onto an impossibly fragile branch several stories above the ground, or Robert Pattinson two movies into the Twilight Saga wondering what he did in a past life to deserve this (they did you dirty, Cedric Diggory, no doubt about that) but for me it came this past week not when my mother showed up to annually pass judgment on my life’s (apparently rudderless) direction but instead ascending the steps to the top of a ghost town of a theater Thanksgiving week to write up Robin Hood. Fun Fact: I traded Hawk Ripjaw the review-embargoed Possession of Hannah Grace (I can’t do body horror/contortion flicks *pause for dry-heaving*) for this assignment and I’m honestly not sure which one of us is gonna come out the worse for wear.
Robin Hood is both a derivative summation of decades of capitalist societal projection AND an exceptionally tone deaf millennial reboot of a classic fable for the especially easy-to-please, socialism idealist, die-hard Bernie Bro. It’s a goddamned modern marvel under those standards. So here we go. Robin Hood (Taron Egerton) starts out as a noble lord (Robin of Loxley) just chillin’ like a (non) villain on his estate, dating his common born bae (Eve Hewson’s “Marian”) before being drafted into the third crusade. Smash cut to four years later when he runs into some hella disgruntled “savages” (locals who are like “get out of my house you melatonin-challenged fuckface, I’m not down with Jesus and I’d thank you to fuck right off at your soonest convenience, warmest regards.”) and charges in, kills some brown people like he’s been doing for the past four years and then SUDDENLY tries (and fails, but if you’re white you get credit for TRYING) to save an unarmed youth from a very not-chill beheading right in front of his dad, a now one-handed Jamie Foxx aka “Little John”.
Robin gets wounded as punishment and (since he’s nobility) he gets an injured discharge for his disobedience instead of a death sentence someone common born would’ve been given (it’s the *height* of white male privilege to buck a system that’s literally designed for you to fail up using the bumper lanes especially crafted to reward white-savior-hero-complex-classism- but acknowledging that would require a level of self-awareness this film lacks) and sent home where people think he’s been dead for the past two years. Marian has moved on and is shacking up with Will Scarlett (a virtuously narcissistic Jamie Dornan) and fermenting rebellion against the odiously obvious douche of a Nottingham Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn) on the DL. A little wax-on, wax-off guidance later from Saracen Mr. Miyagi (Little John, the one-handed warrior who followed Robin back to Nottingham for… reasons?) later and Robin is robbing Nottingham blind to stick it to the man (of which he is one) while trying to uncover treason on the part of the Sheriff to overthrow a corrupt church/government overreach of authority oppressing the common people. Something something secret identity revealed, something Marian gets back with Robin, something something Will Scarlett scorned-exes his way into a “shocking” betrayal setting up a sequel that, I’m calling it now, WILL THANKFULLY NEVER HAPPEN. Read on for exactly why.
Positives for 2018’s Biggest Box Office Flop, Robin Hood, include a virtually empty opening night theater which really helped minimize distractions from how bad this movie was. If there had been more than five people in that stadium theater I honestly might have died of claustrophobia (more likely a stroke brought on from lethal levels of boredom and ennui, but beggars praying for death on swift wings while watching a medieval cinematic dumpster fire can’t be choosers).
Another bonus was the truly quality beer glass the lackluster theater employee passed out to everyone after the film. All five of us. Because if any movie (rightly) assumes you’re gonna need a drink IMMEDIATELY after screening it, it’s this one. Hats off for that level of self-awareness because fuck all if Robin Hood had an ounce of realistic actualization anywhere else.
And, finally, the one redeeming (and I’m using that term extremely loosely) quality about Robin Hood itself was Jamie Foxx. He took what little they gave him for Little John’s character foundation and waded his way through the (fairly obvious) racial stereotyping of the mythical black mentor role (again, a Saracen Mr. Miyagi, if you will) put in this film purely to assist the white savior figure (Taron Edgerton’s game… ish attempt at Robin Hood). To his credit, Foxx stole the focus and brought the thunder in any scene he was in – with the end result being that I was infinity more interested in John’s backstory, motivations, and character than any of the other cardboard-cutout-stick-figure-zombies shuffling around onscreen. Jamie Foxx polished a turd of a role into MINUTES of semi-watchable footage and, honestly, it saved my last functioning brain cell from intentionally walking head-on into traffic.
I un-ironically love most Gerard Butler action movies, and here’s why: most of what Butler does (see the amaaaaazingly bad Gods of Egypt for reference) makes you feel like his character, and the craptacular movie-du-jour, is in on the joke rather than BEING the joke. Robin Hood takes whatever satirical potential it had and aggressively strangles it in an alley behind a combo Pizza Hut/Taco Bell.
First up, we have the tone-deaf white savior complex to unpack (of course the privileged white dude is not only the most qualified person to right every wrong done to “the poors” but it’s his sole burden to bear. Calm down, bruh, Jesus called and said he wants his cross to bear back). Then we have, as previously mentioned, the magical black mentor role which reinforces the “chosen savior” narrative with an additional (and super “fun”) running joke where people ask John what his given name is and – when it’s revealed as too hard to pronounce for white people – Foxx jokingly adopts the Anglicanized version of his characters’ name, John. HAHAHAHA GOOD ONE. NOTHING LIKE MINIMIZING CULTURE AND DIVERSITY, CHET.
After that comes the “women are prizes to be won, lulz independent agency” arc with Marian’s character being fought over in a giant pissing contest between Will Scarlet and Robin Hood for the *entire* movie (and doomed sequel setup). There’s also the added bonus involving the virtue-shaming of Marian for moving on after Robin was declared dead. SHE ACTUALLY GETS CALLED OUT ON THIS AND BASICALLY APOLOGIZES FOR NOT SEALING HERSELF OFF IN A CAVE AND DYING ALONE, WITHERED VAGINA AND LOYALTY REMAINING UNTOUCHED UNTIL DEATH.
Horrifying narrative arc and textbook stereotypes aside, the actual characters themselves fell flatter than (I’m assuming) Ben Affleck’s face when he realized the massive back tattoo he got after (before? – fuck it, who cares) “consciously uncoupling” with Jennifer Garner was real and that now he has to pretend the melted candle gangbang between his shoulder blades was on purpose and he loves it.
The godawful dialogue was conceived in the same circle of hell where Olympus Has Fallen was written (ironically a counterpoint to the Gerard Butler point made above about being “in” on the joke as Olympus was as painfully earnest – and as painfully written- as Robin Hood) and carried to term via surrogate by whichever Kardashian currently needs a PR bump. Imagine a nightmare demonscape filled with lines that could’ve come out of a (watered down) medieval Ocean’s Eleven/Knight’s Tale/Hunger Games ripoff. If you find an original thought or concept expressed in Robin Hood I WILL GIVE YOU ONE MILLION, NAY, ONE TRILLION DOLLHAIRS.
I don’t understand any of the decisions that went into making Robin Hood a not-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is-current-events-political-allegory because they were breathtakingly, nonsensically idiotic. And, sweet motherfucking Cthulhu, I can’t believe I’m saying this, 2017’s subtle-by-comparison Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (also reviewed by moi) did it better. Robin Hood is a privileged social and elite classist powder keg grinding the poor and downtrodden under the boot of one percenters until a revolution propelled by socialist rhetoric ignites a fuse and unifies the commoners in their eventual rebellion. What a fresh take (she said with eyes as dead as Jamie Dornan’s) on the Sheriff of Nottingham as a barely veiled 45 impersonation – he literally screams “I AM THE LAW AND ORDER HERE!” at one point. I mean, if I wanted to be both outraged *and* disgusted by something, I could turn on CNN and watch the US/Mexico border guards tear-gassing asylum seekers and their children to the same effect.
Holding steady at 11% on the Rotten Tomato-Meter as a rock-bottom, Cinderella-story of Box Office Bombs, Robin Hood’s tonally confused series of action whippets interspersed with dry, mechanical melodrama serves up dull realness like a negative image of what a good movie should be (or even a mildly entertaining one). You can see the chalk outline on the cinematic sidewalk where Robin Hood could’ve gone another way. For a SPLIT second after I saw the trailer for this shitshow, I almost thought it was a modern reimagining of the classic story with a twist of Kingsman flair. I was QUICKLY disabused of that notion a rapid-fire five seconds into the film when informed of divergent information by what is often the laziest of cinematic crutches, narration. Less charming than the cheese-tastic Ella Enchanted and less badass than Dredd (GIVE US A SEQUEL ALREADY PLEASE, PLEASE?, PLEASE! WE NEED THIS), Robin Hood opens on a voiceover (a device used throughout the film to prop up an anemic narrative) telling the audience to forget everything they already know about this classic story and just go with the horseshit a couple of stoned hedgehogs came up with after smoking peyote at Coachella last year. Okay, then, sure, seems legit. PSYCH. Spread the word, we’re bringing “psych!” back.
Not since last year’s bombastic (no, not in the good way) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (a $175 million dollar bellyflop into another equally-as-un-compelling retro reboot) has a movie failed as hard to live up to the hype. I think the lesson we’ve all learned here is to just leave that shit alone and replay Princess Bride and Die Hard in theaters as often as humanly possible. There is literally no limit to the amount of money I will spend re-watching those timeless silverscreen diamonds. None. Robin Hood is 2018’s DEFINITIVE (yeah, there’s technically a month left to the year but I’m gonna Babe Ruth this shit and call it now) box office bomb. This flick is a joyless slog through a spliced-together chimera of underwhelming elements all culminating in a fragmented, unstable, socially toxic, and fatally flawed fable. Lionsgate is pinning their 2019 hopes on another Madea movie, the third John Wick, and a David K. Harbour-driven Hellboy reboot.
I’m gonna keep it one-hundred (percent honest) and tell you that I’m running on ten hours of sleep in the last forty-eight hours and my blood is probably seventy-five percent 5 Hour Energy at this exact moment in time. I told you that so I could tell you this: I *may* be hallucinating that the walls are a sentient cheese blob with sleep apnea right now but I’m still dead-fucking-certain that Robin Hood had choppy, disjointed editing and abrupt, bukkake-style combat sequences (quick, insane, filled with a lot of shit you can’t identify flying through the air, and over before you ever really understand what’s happening). There were a couple of interesting visuals, but they seemed to occur by chance rather than by design. Peppering in nonsensical action sequences to liven up an otherwise bland narrative might work if this is the first movie you’ve ever seen in your life after crawling out from under a rock you’ve been living under (that doesn’t have wifi so you’ve been re-reading Jane Eyre over and over again) since 1994. Honestly, Robin Hood could’ve used a crazy bitch in the attic to liven shit up.
Not A Sixth Beer
This is a fun new segment where I make fun of pretty much every IMDB stock image from Robin Hood. Not all heroes wear capes, but some of them *do* wear sarcasm like a snuggie. Enjoy.
Robin Hood (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone talks about or calls Robin “The Hood”. Try not to think of The CW’s Arrow and how much better that show is than this knockoff imitation. Fail. Drink more.
Take a Drink: for every magical black mentor moment and/or piece of sage advice John gives Robin.
Take a Sip: whenever John does something badass/for each “robin” hood you see nailed up around town.
Take a Drink: every time Robin robs and/or the Sheriff is a real dick.
Do a Shot: anytime someone tries to say John’s real name, hugely fucks it up, and ends up calling him “John” instead.
Shotgun Your Beer: when Nottingham shows a “two-faced” demeanor. Wait for it. Waaaaait for it.