Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

(On TV, June 2016) Watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves twenty-five years after release (almost to the day) is a reminder about the evolution of the Hollywood blockbuster between the eighties and nineties. You can see in Robin Hood the elements that would make up the blockbuster tropes of the nineties, but you can also see the remnants of eighties-style filmmaking stiffness: The slightly-too-slow pacing, the quirks that don’t necessarily reinforce the film’s strengths, the unconscious irritation (such as the attempted-rape elements of the conclusion) the stiff studio staging, and so on. Director Kevin Reynolds doesn’t do a bad job with what he’s given, but it’s a film of its time. It’s good, but it’s not necessarily polished to a shine like latter blockbusters would be. It doesn’t help that Kevin Costner is off as Robin Hood: his stoic persona can’t accommodate the more light-hearted requirements of the role. On the other hand, Alan Rickman is fantastic as the all-out villainous antagonist, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio looks great at Maid Marian, and Morgan Freeman gets a pretty good role as an Islamic Moor stuck in the madness. Watching this film today, after the pop-culture clichés and most notably the 1993 full-length Mel Brooks parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights, is strangeness multiplied. But then again I was in high school when Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves came out—much of the pop culture of the time has stuck in my head to a degree that may not be as extreme for other viewers.

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