Despite solid production values and a few extremely good moments, this awkwardly depicted Robin Hood may disturb those sentimentally attached to the original 1938 Michael Curtiz-directed classic. Tinkering with the lore, the pic’s tone unflatteringly recalls the worst flippant aspects of Richard Lester’s musketeers films.
This story [by Sam Resnick] has nobleman Robert Hode (Patrick Bergin) giving spoils to the poor as an afterthought. Having already turned to crime, he thinks the gesture could be just the one to protect his hide. The one wrinkle that does work is Uma Thurman’s scrappy, sexy Maid Marian, a woman who battles alongside the men.
The reworked legend has Saxon noble Hode disenfranchised by his onetime friend Daguerre (Jeroen Krabbe), the Norman who holds sway over the area. After an encounter with Little John (David Morrissey), Hode and his compatriot (Owen Teale) join the ranks of a group of thieves – hidden in caves rather than the trees of Sherwood Forest – ultimately leading the group in rebellion against Deguerre and Prochnow’s foppish baron.
The lack of major action sequences is surprising in light of the resumes of director John Irvin and exec producer John McTiernan. Costumes and sets solidly capture the 12th-century time period, muted with autumnal tones.
[Version reviewed was the 180-minute telemovie broadcast on US TV May 13, 1991.]