Where are the Tights?!
After an evening of working out followed by a refueling at Big Bowl, I ended a fine Friday evening with a viewing of the latest Robin Hood movie starring Russel Crowe. This movie was directed by Ridley Scott, the same director of Gladiator – Crowe’s first big movie blockbuster. Naturally, I walked in with great expectations but was left in disappointment valley.
You won’t watch a scene unfold in which he steals from the rich and gives to the poor, nor will you view Robin donning a disguise to win an archery contest or Robin getting Friar Tuck to carry him across the alter. Scenes such as these from the original Robin Hood myth are missing because, for some reason, the powers that be decided to illustrate this movie as a prequel – to the time before Robin Hood became the legend we remember.
I found myself wanting more scene upon scene . . . more Hood heroism, more romance, and more suspense. What I got was many scenes depicting the history behind the legend. It’s the 12th century, and Richard the Lionheart is “plundering his way back to England” from the Crusades – while bitter brother John waits to inherit the crown along with his sassy French girlfriend. The French are the real villains of the piece, planning to foment civil war in England so they can invade. Where does Robin Hood fit in? Robin starts off as an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart, and ends up in Nottingham, where he joins the clan of a fallen comrade. Yet the movie never finds a dramatic tone or climatic point, for that matter. Crowe plays Hood in an almost stoic manner; he doesn’t do much more above the occasional squint.
Cate Blanchett displayed more emotion, but not necessarily in a good way – Lady Marion acts with such proud, strong-as-any-man severity that there’s no softness to her. When she helps Robin off with his chainmail, it’s supposed to be erotic, but the two might as well be building a bookcase. Certainly the books they put on the shelf will be more interesting than the story unfolding on the screen.
So the movie is really all about backstory: a rousing roar of royal-court strategizing and double-crossing oppression. Crowe, slashing his way through the movie, is just a glorified extra in the background of the royal rouse. Where is his Gladiator valor?! He’s stoic enough to be a bore, and so is the movie. Grading Girl gives Robin Hood a C-. The only reason this gets a passing grade is because of the well executed war scenes action fans will fancy.
I would not want the ability to time travel to the future – I believe in taking life’s triumphs and trials as they come. I might, however, want to take a brief trip back to various occasions of my life. My daughter’s birth was hands down the best day of my life so naturally I wouldn’t mind revisiting that; it might be fun to take a quick trip to when I was a small child too. I don’t think I’d want to hang around long enough to change anything . . . who knows how much one small occurence could change signficant results. It could be enlightening, though, to time travel all the way back to an era in history such as the Romantic period just to experience firsthand a piece of what we read about in literature and history texts.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a movie that lets us fantasize about this if only for a couple of hours. A librarian at the Newberry Library in Chicago (one of my favorite places for professional development, by the way) suffers from a rare genetic disorder that sends him hurtling through time whenever he is under extreme duress. Despite the fact that he vanishes at frequent and lengthy intervals, Henry attempts to build a stable future with the beautiful young heiress, Claire, whom he loves. Eric Bana (my new crush) and Rachel McAdams star in this fantasy, and they both are very close to the characters I pictured in my head when I read the book.
I read the book by Audrey Niffeneger five years ago and enjoyed it so much that I instantly formed a summer reading group for my senior students to discuss it in-depth. The endearing love affair between the two protagonists stuck with me long after I read the last chapter. Yes, the movie does not delve as deep into Claire’s anguish as the book. It does not even follow Claire to as old of an age as she progresses to in the book. Regardless, the movie is a tear-jerker romance in its own right. I went to see this on its second night release . . . I heard plenty of sniffles throughout the show, a testament to the believable characters and appealing plot. Grading Girl gives The Time Traveler’s Wife a solid B for its hug-your-heart, endearing message – that is, true love has no boundaries. GG says this movie is worth your time!