Cinema’s Greatest Triumphs: ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES
When cinema finally dies, it won’t be due to Covid-19 or any other world event like that. It’ll be because too much time passed since a Robin Hood movie came out. Witches and Warlocks made this rule over a hundred years ago and nobody’s breaking it any time soon. Movies: they are a Robin Hood delivery system first and everything else second.
This Robin Hood movie came out in 1991 and is two hours, twenty minutes long. It had a hit song by Bryan Adams that was exclusively sung at 1991 weddings for marriages that did not work out. It is a sickening movie, where everyone does a lot of spitting and the villains all act nose-first directly into the camera.
We begin with title cards, explaining how a bunch of English people went to Jerusalem to fight the Crusades. The film introduces Robin Hood of Locksley among a line of English prisoners (and Morgan Freeman). Everyone is hairy and gross because they’ve all been getting tortured for five years. Today’s torture sees everyone getting a hand cut off. After 1826 days of this shit (with leap year), Robin Hood of Locksley has FINALLY had enough and pulls the hand-chopper’s hand toward him so that his hand gets chopped instead. Just hand flying everywhere. He then lets all the prisoners free (including Morgan Freeman) but during the escape all of them die (excluding Morgan Freeman). Since Robin Hood of Locksley saved his life, Morgan Freeman decides he will stick around until he can repay the favor. It takes him approximately two hours and twenty minutes.
The next time we see them, it is four months later and they’re pulling a canoe up to the banks of England. Robin Hood of Locksley has shaved and cut his hair. We can see the damage five years of torture did. He went in a sweet boy of 17 and came out a 43-year-old Californian. Yes, English folk hero Robin Hood is played by baseball player and occasional cowboy Kevin Costner. He’s especially not good in this film but saved somewhat by the fact that no one is good in this film. The script is filled with those long, inhuman bits of dialog that are impossible to say believably so instead people just say them really fast.
Robin is so happy to be in England, he starts eating the beach. This will be the first of many times when Morgan Freeman realizes he is surrounded by fucking idiots who have the audacity to continuously call him a savage. At one point he invents a telescope and Robin thinks it literally brings people closer to him.
Robin is of Locksley, so Locksley is the first place he heads. On the way, he sees a group of assholes led by Michael Wincott – who ate gravel on a dare and got a career out of it – chasing a kid up a tree. Robin will not stand for this on his front lawn and kills the assholes. Not quickly and not well, but he manages. Robin will later reveal himself to be a skilled archer, but a whole hour of him almost falling in mud has to go by first.
Finally, Robin makes it to Locksley only to discover his father dead and old man-servant blinded. Kind of bummed out about that, he next visits the girl he had a crush on as a child, Mary of On. We learn he used to burn her hair as a prank. This time, he only puts her under suspicion as a traitor and slaps her butt. All men can improve.
Michael of Wincott goes home to report his humiliation to his cousin, Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Alan Rickman, fresh off a ton of praise for his villainous DIE HARD performance. Unanimous praise can be a bad thing, and Rickman dials his shit up to eleven throughout this whole movie. He’s gross and horny and petulant, giving off extreme Kylo Renergy mixed with whatever cocaine was 800 years ago.
Sheriff of Nottingham has a witch and he needs to know if Robin Hood of Locksley’s return means anything bad for his plans of being just awful until King Richard comes home. The witch has a hotplate she bleeds and spits on. It tells her that all the villains are going to die before the end of the film and she also has one of the Hepatitises.
Meanwhile, Robin of Hood ventures into Sherwood of Forest, which no one dares enter because it is lousy with Lost Boys. I know the legend is that the Lost Boys never grew up but that’s just a myth. They grew up but just kept acting like children. So Robin frolics around with these jerks and win their respect by letting the big one beat him with a stick for a while.
Even with five years of torture under his belt, Robin is not accustomed to living like a peasant. He teaches the Lost Boys how to shoot arrows so they may rob rich people and raise the forest’s standard of living. They cut down a smelting tree, a sword tree, a rope tree and a skill tree and get to work.
There is a town nearby, supposedly Nottingham, where all the Lost Boys’ wives live. They raise the standard of living there as well. Pretty soon, everyone is chanting the name Robin of Hood of Locksley of Nottingham.
Even Robin’s old girlfriend with the burnt hair starts to like him. Especially when she shows up unexpectedly and catches him bathing, giving her an eyeful of Costner’s untanned football coach/geography teacher ass.
This bothers Sheriff of Nottingham, so after five months of it, he hires the Celtics to take the Lost Boys out. That doesn’t sound like much but this was the 1991 Celtics. Unfortunately the Celtics don’t know about arrows and all get massacred. So Sheriff puts two and two together and invents fire arrows to simply burn the forest down. If Sheriff’s witch had only figured this out a bit earlier there would be no film and we wouldn’t have that Bryan Adams song at all.
It’s a low point for everyone. Things are bad. And the film only has twenty minutes to make them good again. Christian Slater does the math and realizes that if he wants to be in this movie, he needs to stand up and do something, so he tells Robin of Locksley they are half-brothers. It’s a low point for everyone.
Eventually, Robin and Morgan Freeman hatch a plan to visit whichever castle the Sheriff sheriffs from and kill everyone. They have to be quick though as the Sheriff is going to marry Mary of On. Luckily, they have a little time because he refuses to gratuitously rape her until they are officially wed. The drunk friar takes on the corrupt preacher, Morgan Freeman fights the witch, everyone else fights everyone else, and Robin fights Sheriff. Neither of them know how to swordfight and Robin actually loses, until the very end, when he puts a lucky dagger in the Sheriff’s heart. This causes the Sheriff to spit himself to dehydration and takes a very long time.
Robin of Hood and Mary of On decide to get married and officially become Robin of Hood of Mary of On. Their wedding is interrupted by a returning King Richard, played by Sean Connery. It’s a meta joke, enjoyed by all who remember him from the 1938 Robin Hood.
ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES is a hard movie to watch. It’s unpleasant and too long and its charm is anchored to Kevin Costner, whose strong dad energy does not translate well to lovable rogues, especially English lovable rogues. Nevertheless, it remains one of Cinema’s Greatest Triumphs.