Having seen it recently, I’d say Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves probably deserves a higher place on my list. It is not only a highly entertaining medieval romp but also my favorite cinematic version of the Robin Hood story. Removing King John entirely from the story and mixing up some relationships to make them tragically Shakespearean, the filmmakers created a film that is at once exciting, funny, romantic, and now and then stunning.
Kevin Costner is appropriately heroic and likable as Robin Hood, though his lack of English accent is a major inaccuracy to my mind, and Morgan Freeman turns in another spot-on performance as his Moorish companion Azeem. After spending so much time underwater in The Abyss, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio decided to go with an easier role as the lovely Maid Marian, who manages to be both a strong fighter and a damsel in distress. The most striking role goes to Alan Rickman, who perfectly embodies the villainy of the Sheriff of Nottingham, though, unlike Hans Gruber from Die Hard, most of Rickman’s scenes here carry a strange dichotomy of wickedness and humor. Also, you’ve got to love that cameo at the end.
I suppose a major reason I like Prince of Thieves is its balance. It doesn’t typecast its characters, or at least only minimally. The atrocities of the Muslims during the Crusades are shown during an early scene, but Azeem proves to be likable, loyal, and highly learned compared with the English. Similarly, the Bishop of Hereford is shown to be greedy and treacherous, but faithful Christianity is also extolled, though less strongly. Robin’s initial thanks to God upon returning home is a good example of this; Friar Tuck’s drunkenness, not so much.
Though Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is certainly violent, most acts of carnage are left offscreen or hidden with skillful cuts away from bloody wounds. Language is also minimal, though they threw in a lone F-bomb that surprised me greatly. Despite these elements, the film has able, if occasionally over-the-top acting; a number of good one-liners; gorgeous scenery; and a memorably majestic score by Michael Kamen. (If you’ve ever watched the opener for a Disney DVD, you’ve already heard it.) Also, Bryan Adams’s Oscar-nominated “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” surely deserves a place in my End Credits Song Hall of Fame. It’s a perfect romantic wrap-up to a great movie, one of my VC’s favorites.
Best line: (blind Duncan, not having seen Azeem) “Curse those Moors and Saracens. If it wasn’t for their ungodly ways, Master Robin would never have left. What manner of name is Azeem? Scottish, Cornish?” (Azeem, up close) “Moorish.” (Duncan’s reaction is priceless!)
VC’s Best Line: (Azeem, after foiling an ambush) “No man controls my destiny… especially not one who attacks downwind and stinks of garlic.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 8 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 5 Watchability: 8 Other (violence, languages, etc.): -4 TOTAL: 38 out of 60
Next: #239 – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (I’m moving this week so I may be delayed)
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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