Vault: 'Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves' (1991) Dir. Kevin Reynolds
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
This blockbuster take on the English legend brought together international talent for a real swashbuckling adventure...
Robin of Locksley (Costner) escapes captivity in Jerusalem after fighting in the Crusades. He befriends a Moor named Azeem (Freeman) and they flee to England.
The tyrant Sheriff of Nottingham (Rickman) is taking hold over the North of England with the help of his corrupt and merciless family and allies.On Robin’s return, he finds his people are being oppressed.
Swearing to take back the Locksley land and help those impoverished, Robin allies with a band of outlaws and sweetheart Lady Marian (Mastrantonio) to fight back and stop Nottingham and his men...
This is hands down my favourite adaptation of the Robin Hood lore. It was first introduced to me as a child and it was one of those fantastical swashbuckling films that captivated me and my imagination and has done since. Yes, maybe the pacing is a little slow in the middle and it’s jarring having Robin Hood speak with an American accent BUT, on the whole, it’s fun, enjoyable and features some great action and acting talent overall.
Kevin Costner is a fine Robin Hood. He certainly can make shooting an arrow look undeniably cool, and he has a real everyday man approach to being the hero who must lead men to victory whilst dealing with affairs of the heart. He looks good, has enough charm and ego about him to be both ladies’ man and brutal warrior, but on the whole he delivers everything you’d want from a Robin Hood…except the English accent.
You will never get tired seeing Costner fire an arrow on fire in glorious slow-motion in front of a wall of flame. Epic
With fine support from the likes of Morgan Freeman, the late Alan Rickman having too much fun as the campy and cruel Sheriff, a very tender and pretty Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and those who make up the Merry Men, each having more than enough English accents and mannerism to compensate for Costner and Slater, the talent is in fine form. The good guys are the underdogs and rise from nothing to something, and the bad guys are those you love to hate without being TOO nasty you actually hate them.
The pacing is a little gentle in the middle, as the story packs in not just Robin’s introduction to the Sheriff and Sherwood Forest, but also explores his relationship in-depth with his family and Marian. Cue the song by Bryan Adams, and you’ll understand this is as much a love story as it is a rousing adventure.
It works, and gives Robin and Marian some actual plot to work on, and it does slow things because for the majority of the second act we are exploring the everyday goings on of our Merry Men and also the Sheriff; it’s not a bad thing, as we get to know them better and their motives.
For any authentic looking adaptation of Robin Hood, then the iconography of Ye Olde England is staple. Sweeping panoramic fields and hills, lonely castles, murky forests, dank villages and regal chambers that do the job of setting the scene between the rich and poor. The poor wear the down-trodden rags and make-shift clothing, and the rich wear jewel encrusted robes and armour. It does the job it sets out to do and tells the story it sets out to tell.
With some real barnstorming action, whether it be a brutal attack on Sherwood Forest that seems to have been replicated in 2000s ‘Gladiator’ but on a larger scale, and the storming of the Sheriff's castle, Costner et al deliver the goods with lots of sword fighting, horse riding, swinging on ropes, slow-motion arrow shooting and witty quips a plenty. It’s family friendly, but a little grizzly in places that’s for sure. But then, we need to not like our villains somehow don’t we!
It borrows that heroic swashbuckling feel from Errol Flyn, splicing with a modern Hollywood budget to make this telling look and feel real, with memorable performances for all the right and wrong reasons, lavish sets, a rousing soundtrack and brilliant practical swordplay and stunt-work.
It’s the best adaptation of the Robin Hood myth we’ve got; grand, fun and exciting. And when Sir Sean Connery lends himself for a cheeky, uncredited cameo, what’s not to enjoy?
'Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves' is a Morgan Creek production