(In theatres, May 2010) The chequered development process that led from a script called Nottingham to this stone-faced “historical” take on Robin Hood may explain a lot about the deadened result, but as viewers we can only see what’s on-screen and wonder what went wrong. The first bad idea is the pretence of a “historical” look at a legend: It didn’t work in the dour and grimy King Arthur, and it’s not any more pleasant here. (To compare and contrast, the similarly-themed The Last Legion wasn’t very good either, but it had the good idea of being a lot more fun). This isn’t director Ridley Scott’s first foray in pseudo-realistic historical action, and Robin Hood is just as dirt-dominated as similar sequences in Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven: you can practically feel the plague coming just by watching the film. But the realism is just surface deep: By the end of the story, in which Robin Hood saves Maid Marian from unexplainable danger during a D-day like French invasion off the cliffs of Dover and then practically writes the Magna Carta from notes left by his lost-lost father, well, we’ve left realism buried somewhere in the copious dirt. (It won’t take a military strategist to find something suspiciously wrong about an invasion force picking a narrow stretch of beach right in front of impassable cliffs as a landing area.) While Russell Crowe is fine as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett can do no wrong as Maid Marian, the film too often feels like a school assignment sucking all the fun out of reasonably entertaining source material. After watching this joyless take on Robin Hood, I felt a sudden need to go and re-watch Costner’s now-old-enough-to-be-classic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves all over again.