Robin Hood Rides Again

After 25 years, Prince of Thieves remains the best Robin film in the Hood

The Prince Charles cinema recently hosted a special screening of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of its initial release. For me, going to see Robin Hood again was like stepping back in time to my childhood. But what would it be like, viewed 25 years on?

I’m pleased to say it holds up well today, even if the CGI parts now look outdated (hey, it was the 1990s and the technology was new back then). And of course we have the cast of the film, and it truly is a stellar cast, with luminaries such as Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman, and Sean Connery. Of these, Alan Rickman is the real star. His turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham is stunning and at the same time hilarious (did he know or didn’t he?). The best bit – hamming it up or not – is the scene where he threatens to cut Robin’s heart out with a spoon.

Of all the adaptations we’ve had of the classic Robin Hood story, this is definitely a more grown-up take on it, with plenty of violence and death. I have yet to see another Robin Hood film that shows us the hung corpse of Robin’s father or local villagers being set on fire. Compared to Disney’s animated version, this is a blood-fest. It also has the wonderful Brian Blessed in too short a role as Robin’s noble parent. As for Robin himself, there’s no denying that Kevin Costner’s a fine actor. But it sounds like he made no effort whatsoever to sound English; his American accent sticks out a mile.  Regarding the music, this is the film that features “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams, which won the Grammy Award for best song specially composed for a motion picture or television programme. It’s also the song that many of us have come to think of as one of the worst.

The plot is simple: Robin returns home from the Crusades to find his father dead at the hands of the Sheriff. He meets Maid Marian, forms his band of Merry Men including Little John, defeats the Sheriff and gets the girl. It’s a simple story that’s easy to follow and I enjoyed it now as much as I did as a child. This time I actually understood most of the jokes.

If any Robin Hood film deserves to have its anniversary celebrated, it’s definitely this one. After all, who doesn’t want to hear Alan Rickman talk about cutting hearts out with a spoon? If you haven’t seen it you absolutely should, just for Rickman. And if you have seen it, well then watch it again; again, for Rickman.

The film can be rented online via Amazon Video.

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