Movie Fun with Team Sherwood: The Robin Hood Film Duets

I'm impatient, so I just pushed "go" on my holiday weekend sales. That means my TTRPG Sherwood is $5.25 on Itch and DriveThru. So are My Chivalric Bromance and both versions of Dragonmaw Cave (all also on Itch where I'll get a bigger cut of the proceeds).

It also means I'm gonna talk about Robin Hood movies. Why? To celebrate! Also, on Tumblr, you can't mute me!

Before 1991, I'm pretty sure it was really rare to have a big Robin Hood cinematic release accompanied by separate TV movies, direct-to-video, and direct-to-streaming titles. Since then, it's become the new normal, with most big-screen Robin movies accompanied by a lower-budget limited release.

I'm trying to avoid spoilers below, but I make no promises since the story is old. If you're worried about them, you may want to avoid this.


In 1991, we got a major cinematic release with a big name cast that was one of the highest grossing films in the US that year.

Then we got a good UK movie starring Uma Thurman and Patrick Bergin.

The UK's 1991 Robin Hood starts off in a gloomy, foggy, rainy England where Robert Hode offends a visiting dignitary (Jürgen Prochnow) here to marry to local Sheriff's niece (Uma Thurman's Marian), refusing to allow him to execute a poacher. Things progress, and as they do we go from a gloomy quasi-realism to a Midsummer Night's Dream surrealism. It's a strange transition, but it sure as fuck isn't a boring one. By the time the outlaws get into the Sheriff's castle disguised as Feast of Fools revelers (with Jeff Nuttall as Friar Tuck), it's unsurprising to hear the impious friar greeting the outlaws' defeated foes with "Welcome to Hell!"

Over in the US, the script and Costner's palpable disinterest in the film (and the role, his costars, the audience, etc.) were the twin black holes that no capable actor's efforts could escape. Well, almost because Alan Rickman (the Sheriff) and Geraldine McEwan (Mortianna) were both incredible—though both avoided sharing screen time with Costner—and Rickman improvised the only good lines in the film on his own.


No this isn't the same year. I know that, but I'm the person writing this, and I'm making up all of my own rules as I go.

One of the favorite complaints of film reviewers is that a movie "has nothing to do with the Robin Hood tradition." That's almost never true in any coherent sense of "the tradition." But then this set of movies happened:

In 2009, Robin Dunn lead Beyond Sherwood Forest, a SyFy made-for-cable film about Robin Hood finding a magical portal, talking to fey, and meeting a dragon.

In 2010, Ridley Scott released a Russel Crowe lead film that had jack shit nothing to do with the Robin Hood tradition.

Okay, technically, there are other Robin Hood films that feature the Magna Carta, but this was the first one that had Ridley Scott, Cate Blanchett, and a budget. But all they could afford was a weird Magna Carta conspiracy theory.


By now, you're probably thinking that I just look at 2 Robin Hood films and just pick the one with the lower budget as the good one. But we've not gotten to 2018 yet. Two films came out this year: Robin Hood and Robin Hood: The Rebellion.

Neither was good, but there's a certain weird charm to Taron Egerton's portrayal (and Jamie Foxx's Little John was one of the more exciting revisions to that character's story I've seen in a long time). Egerton's probably one of the more charismatic actors to take on the role (next to Disney's red-n-furry guy, of course).

The Direct-to-Video Rebellion has a better premise and better ideas behind the script. It also had a really strong cast (Brian Blessed and Kristian Nairn are on the box cover, but neither are in the film for more than a few minutes). Like the wonderful Hammer films before it, it tries to focus on a single moment or mission in the Robin legend.

But then, it's just grim and joyless and devoid of substance as Zweihander. It's pretty sure it's got something important to say, but if that something was ever there, it got cut out in post.


Finally, we get to this year with two direct-to-video entries: The Siege of Robin Hood and The Adventures of Maid Marian.

Marian isn't getting in competition from this guy, though.

You're probably looking at that cover, worried that you're going to judge the movie by the bad costumes and awful production design. Lots of RH movies I love have bad costumes and awful production design, though.

Paul Allica wrote, directed, and starred in this travesty, so all the blame goes to him. Before we get to the 20 minute mark, we've seen people clapping because a flamboyantly gay character got stabbed. Shortly after, we get a lot of racist bullshit about Asian Mercenaries being expensive but quiet and compliant. About 40-45 minutes in, we get the first fridging (but definitely not the last).

Don't worry though. There's still 70+ minutes left, all of it just as sexist and racist as before. (No more homophobia though: the one is dead.)

Allica and co have a background doing stunts and working as extras in martial arts films. Somehow, the fight scenes still suck. If Rebellion is like playing Zweihander with edgelords, Siege is like playing FATAL at a Q-Anon conference.

Filmed as the pandemic raged, the production faced a lot of challenges. The script might be weak and self-serious, but it makes up for some of it by keeping the action moving and the dialogue on point. Like some of my favorite Robin movies, there's no origin story here: Robin and Marian are on the run almost from the start. Marian is leaving Kirklees and Robin back from King Richard's endless wars, but they discover one-time Sheriff is hunting for them. Lead by Sophie-Louise Craig (with Dominic Andersen and Robin), this is a quick-moving take on Robin's encounters with the Prioress of Kirklees in the ballads, possibly the most interesting one since BBC's Legend of Robin Hood or Robin & Marian. (That's not the spoiler you probably think it is.)


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