I saw the movie on opening day in Michigan. It has been something of a hobby of mine since I was a boy. I am now 62 and a retired professor. I dearly wanted to like this movie as I was so very disappointed with Costner's treatment of, well, Costner as Robin. Because of this desire, I consider myself a fairly strict critic. As such, I can say that I loved the movie. I would give it a 9 out of 10 and perhaps later, something more.
This movie shows us an entirely new Robin, one who could easily have lived, served his King and his country, and then been punished by a jealous and vindictive ruler such as John. The movie offers a very different approach to a legend that has changed many, many times over the 700 years or so since we know of its creation. The film retains the most central characters and gives them new life, free from their cliched prisons. Is Robin dour, heavy, very serious? Please. The kingdom has been robbed of its treasure in the name of fighting foreign wars (something not unknown in our time) and is left without a generation of men. Robin is an honest and courageous man at the word of none other than Richard himself. His integrity we later trace back to a rich source and it is validated by both Walter Loxley and William Marshall.
We see this Robin do a bit of forest shenanigans over a shipment of seed, but most of the movie is spent showing him fit into his future place in the kingdom and of his pivotal role in fighting a traitor and helping to defeat an invasion and introduce a bill of rights that was to become known as the Magna Carta.
The battle scenes are magnificent, the costumes on a scale with any other of the great medieval epics, the sets amazing, the plot credible (more than in most Robin Hood movies), and the central characters are rich, fully developed, and fully alive.
Robin Hood is, at its heart, a story of hope, of better days ahead, of making a difference, of coming in and saving someone and/or something, of sacrificing self for a greater good. Crowe’s Robin does all of these things. He leads a cavalry charge in time to save the village that is the home of his new love, Marion. In so doing, he saves this village from a fate such as those inflicted as for example on Soissons in 1414. He prevents innocent villagers from being trapped in a village building and burned alive.
Robin is thus a man of integrity, courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice, vision, and skill in battle. The characters and actors are wonderful. The sets are amazing and the action is convincing and compelling. It is also done so in such an effective manner without bathing the viewer in an ocean of blood and gore. If all of this does not make for an exciting and satisfying movie, then none such movie exists.