Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

I really like Robin Hood. Or rather, I really love one specific version of Robin Hood, the Disney version with the animal characters. It was one of the endlessly rewatched movies of my childhood. But despite this, I’ve never reached out to try other versions of this story, either in print or on screen. I think I’ve seen Robin Hood: Men In Tights, which I don’t remember well, but in hindsight was probably a spoof of the movie I’m about to watch…


Prince of Thieves was not what I was expecting. I thought I was going to be watching a serious retelling of Robin Hood, something slightly more realistic than the cartoon of my childhood. What I got was witchcraft, satanism, implausible gunpowder and swords that are only sharp when the script says something gets cut. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, it just threw me a few plot curveballs I wasn’t really ready for. If you’re looking for a well-grounded Robin Hood movie, this isn’t it.

The Good:

  • Friar Tuck
  • Quarterstaff fights. Quarterstaves are grossly underrepresented in movies, despite being ridiculously effective weapons.
  • The Merry Men in general. I was expecting regular bandits. Luckily, this isn’t that movie.
  • Surprise Sean Connery!

The Bad:

  • Robin gets back to England four months after his father is killed, and his castle is in ruins. Why? The Sheriff didn’t have any need to attack it, and nothing that big and made of stone falls down in 4 months on its own. And if the Sheriff did do it, then who ruins a perfectly good castle? Seriously.
  • I know this was shot in 1991, but Morgan Freeman as The Wise Savage trope made me uncomfortable on many levels. This was not helped by the fact that all the other Middle Eastern characters (who also may or may not have been ethnically appropriate casting) at the start were gross caricatures.
  • Speaking of the start of the movie, I found following what was happening Really Hard to Follow. I mostly figured out that sequence by inference later on.
  • In the climactic scene, the witch seems to be able to get in and out of the chapel at will, all while the only door is barred. This happens like 3 times. Is she actually magic? It’s implied that she is a charlatan who was just a good spy, but then this shit happens.
  • No matter how ridiculous, (attempted) rape scenes make me really unhappy.

True Grit

I didn’t have time to write a preamble for this, because it was already 9:30pm when I sat down to watch the movie. I’m going to have to manage my time on Sundays a little more carefully…


True Grit was thoroughly entertaining. I haven’t watched many westerns (if any – can’t bring any to mind at least) so the setting was entirely novel, to the point where several bits went over my head (how exactly does putting a rope around you do anything about snakes?). But that just made it richer, I think. Good worldbuilding, and populated by interesting characters.

Good:

  • The sass. Oh lord, the sass. The three main characters all had some really sharp wit at times, and I loved it.
  • Jeff Bridges’ accent. It was so bloody thick that I was only actually understanding two words out of three – but despite that, had no trouble following what was being said. This by itself went a long way to selling the movie for me. Perfect.
  • ‘Never doubt the Texas Ranger, ever stalwart.’
  • I like overly serious protagonists with abnormally large vocabularies.
  • The man that was wearing a bear.

Eh:

  • The snow looked fake as all hell. I couldn’t figure out if it was intentional/stylized, or just bad.
  • I can’t come up with anything else for this space, so here is a second bullet point so that the first niggling qualm doesn’t get lonely.

 

 

The Untouchables

I don’t know anything about this movie beyond its two sentence summary. Some feds are gonna try and take down Al Capone. Why do I get the feeling that this movie might not actually be about a carefully constructed tax evasion case?

I remember how carefully Martin considered his recommendations, so I have pretty high expectations for this one. We’ll see if those expectations are borne out…just as soon as the PS4 is done updating. 


It took me about an hour and a half of technical difficulties before I sat down and watched this movie. I was hopping mad by the end of it, and nearly put off watching this until tomorrow. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it was exactly what I needed.

The thing that stands out the most to me about The Untouchables is the level of tension that builds over the course of the movie. The stakes get continually higher, and the consequences rise alongside them, and they drag you along with them. And it is glorious.

I’m not quite sure what this movie does differently compared to contemporary dramas – as noted, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. (This is the point of the whole exercise, right?). But whatever it is, it works. The style of the movie does show its age in places, at least in so far as there were a few shots and sequences that were so different to what I’m used to that they caught my attention. But that age was never a bad thing. I found the occasional use of first person camera really intriguing (especially the extended sequence with the assassin stalking Sean Connery’s character through his house!), and one of the most memorable slow motion gunfights that I have ever seen.

The other thing I noted is that there were many longer shots during the action scenes than I am used to. It’s quite stark just how quick some of the cuts are in a modern action sequence when compared to this sort of style. (I was on the lookout specifically, having seen a few videos on YouTube which touch the subject). I had no difficulty following what was happening – the flow of an entire sequence was evident. Its something that I didn’t really realise was missing until now.

This movie was excellent. Consider my expectations borne.

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward is one of the movies on The List that I have seen before, but long enough ago that I cannot really remember it well. When I was a kid, someone explained the concept of paying it forward to me, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. When I later saw the movie, I recall enjoying it, but I also remember the tragic ending.

Which was why when Jess recommended this, I knew it would hurt.


Having just finished Pay It Forward, I am still reeling a bit. Even though I knew it was coming, I was not prepared for Trevor’s death. Overall, Pay It Forward is a story of hope, about a kid who changed the world while never quite believing that he hadn’t failed. The entire movie builds you up and gets you invested in the characters and has you watch as they overcome their personal demons and their lives move on to better paths. And then it hits you….like a knife in the gut.

Which isn’t to say it wasn’t foreshadowed – I knew that knife that the kid sneaks past the metal detector at the start was going to be important later. And after Trevor didn’t stop his buddy getting thrown into the dumpster, the setup for him to play hero was all in place. Even if I had been watching this movie fresh, I think I would have seen it coming. Unfortunately, this foreknowledge didn’t make it hurt any less.

This will sound a bit cliche, but I don’t cry at movies. Never have. But if I was going to, I think I would have tonight.

The interpersonal drama between the adult characters was….okay, I guess. I don’t have any experience with addiction, domestic abuse or huge mental trauma (lucky me, right?!) so I can’t speak to how well those things were portrayed, but I got invested enough in these problems to give a damn while they were getting screentime, which is all I really ask. I did really like Kevin Spacey’s character though – who could have predicted that I might identify with a socially awkward man with an obnoxiously large vocabulary?

Overall, good movie, and well worth the time spent. I can only hope that the rest of The List is as good.

New Project – Movies Greg Needs To Have Seen

It is no secret that I haven’t watched very many movies. Almost none of the classics, neither contemporary or older. Last night, while drunk, I decided to do something about that. I began soliciting movie recommendations on Twitter, up to 3 films per person. And I am going to watch them all.

The list is here. I am still taking more suggestions – if you are in the loop enough to be reading this right now, you are entitled to submit your picks. Leave a comment or something.

I’m planning on posting my impressions (or something – I don’t really know the format these posts will take yet) on this blog. Watch this space!