What a gwaan

What a’gwaan?

The main problem with Robin Hood 2010 is not necessarily Russell Crowe’s accent, which veers from a low-rent impression of Fred Trueman from the Indoor League, to broad scouse, before taking a wrong turn up a Jamaican patois cul-de-sac; it’s not even the fact that by now Ridley Scott has been back to the medieval well so much that he seems to have caught creative leprosy from the water, and could theoretically direct a castle siege in his sleep (and probably did – lulz).

No, the real problem is the fact that when going for a theoretically realistic retelling, of what is quite clearly bollocks, they decided to cast Russell Crowe. Now, suspension of disbelief plays a large part in any cinematic entertainment but when you have someone who is in medieval terms, and putting it as politely as possible, is not so much reaching his twilight years as wondering where the light’s gone, playing a common archer you can’t help but feel that he’s perhaps been kept back in the ‘special group’ for a few years.

If archery were studied at degree level, you get the impression that Russell Crowe’s character is about to take his attempt at an NVQ into double figures. Then again, he’s really good with a bow and arrow, so maybe he’s only recently taken it up, like old people who volunteer for work in their retirement. That would make sense I suppose.

Digressions aside, I kind of enjoyed the film, despite the age and accent of the lead, the fact that the merry men’s personalities were so interchangeable they were more like a bearded hydra, obsessed with ale, song and wenchery; despite the ride of the midget army at the end – and basically, the end itself.

I think if the problems of the film are symptomatic of anything it’s when the major creative forces on a film are allowed to do whatever they want, because, short of hiring a music video director, there is no surer way of creating a cinematic shark sandwich.

Of course the example of this phenomena that’s so text book it should be given its own ‘ism’, is George Lucas, whose ‘Lucasism’ was to return from a 20 year directorial break with The Phantom Menace. By producing Howard the Duck and not a lot else in the interim, he wasn’t spending all this time working on the script and VFX, he was essentially taking an extended gap year – though I’ve had friends spend a single gap year more productively, and all they did was blow up a cow with a rocket launcher and investigate the lady-boy paradox before (or maybe after) going mental.

Another, more tragic case of Lucasi-sm is Peter Jackson, who not only managed to make elves cool but also broke the curse of the third part of a trilogy being total balls and helping to create one of the best visual effects of all time: Orlando Bloom appearing to have screen presence. But when he’s earned the right to do whatever he wished, he came back with King Kong, which despite being half-decent, was needlessly over-long and featured a dinosaur chase sequence that was so poor, it appeared to have been created using the world’s largest treadmill and the processing muscle of a computer bearing Alan Sugar’s company logo.

Following Gladiator, Ridley and Russell’s return must have seemed as impressive on paper as it is in alliteration. And with a reputation of assaulting workers in the service industry, what would Crowe do to a well-paid film producer were they to dare suggest that Robin Hood probably didn’t sound like Bubbler Ranx in a Lilt advert?

Now I’m not suggesting that film producers should solely have their way, but if the creative forces can be reigned in by money men with occasional interjections of common sense then we may get more enjoyable films. But with news of Mafia Wars and Ice Road Truckers films being green-lit then perhaps common sense, as a commodity in Hollywood, is rarer than finding the word ‘good’ in their eventual reviews.

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