Out of curiosity, did anyone else get a little sick of hearing Bryan Adams back when this movie came out. Nothing against Bryan Adams but that song was all over the freakin radio back then. So this was one of the biggest action movies to come out of 1991 and the first time I saw it, I fell asleep during it. This doesn’t mean that I thought the movie was boring, I was just super tired and has been up for several days at a time (which I had a bad habit of doing back then). Anyways, I received a VHS copy for Christmas the year it came out and then I eventually decided to get it on DVD a couple of years ago. However, the DVD I got was the extended edition, with some extra footage that focused on the Sheriff and Mortianna’s relationship. So let’s see if the new scenes damage the movie any as I watch Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.
The plot: In 1194 A.D., during the Third Crusade led by King Richard, Robin of Locksley and his friend Peter Dubois are both held prisoner in Jerusalem. When Peter is accused of stealing bread, the guards plan on cutting off his hand but Robin insists on taking the punishment himself due to Peter being too weak to handle the trauma. As the guards tie a strap to Robin’s wrist and prepare to cut off his hand, Robin yanks on the strap so that the guard holding him has his hand cut off instead. Robin and Peter kill their executioners and try to free the other prisoners but the only one they are able to free is a Moor named Azeem, who promises to show them a way out. Azeem leads them out through the sewers but a sentry sees them as they exit onto the street and fires an arrow at them, mortally wounding Peter. Peter gives Robin his ring and says to give it to his sister Marian, then makes Robin swear to protect her in his absence, then grabs the scimitar from Azeem and takes on the approaching guards, allowing Robin and Azeem to hide. As the two men quickly eat some food from a nearby shop, Robin offers his thanks and prepares to head back to England and Azeem says that he must travel with Robin, as he now owes a life debt to him. In England, Robin’s father, Lord Locksely, is writing a letter to a friend to see if he has any word of Robin when a man enters the castle and says that his daughter was taken by men on horses. Though his servant, Duncan, tries to stop him, Lord Locksley rides out to rescue the girl, only to find that the man betrayed him as he is surrounded by men in white robes and masks. The leader removes his mask to reveal the face of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who asks Lord Locksley to join him but when he refuses, he has Locksley killed. Some time later, Robin and Azeem arrive on the shores of England and Robin has one of the men on the boat try to attack Azeem in order to cancel the debt but Azeem easily dispatches the man and continues traveling with Robin. As they head towards Robin’s home, Robin notices some men chasing a small boy into the tree and ends up fighting the men and defeating them and their leader, the Guy of Gisborne. After the fight, Robin yells at Azeem, who had not helped Robin as he was in the midst of doing his afternoon prayers, before he questions the boy on the truth of Gisborne’s accusations. Gisborne heads to Nottingham Castle and informs the Sheriff of Robin’s return but the Sheriff does not seem too concerned. When a bell starts ringing in his chamber, the Sheriff leaves and heads down to the lower levels of the castle, where the witch Mortianna lives. Mortianna proceeds to read the runes to predict the Sheriff’s future and tells him that Robin’s arrival proceeds the arrival of King Richard, which would ruin the Sheriff’s plans. Suddenly, Mortianna cries out and says she has seen their deaths, telling the Sheriff that he must kill Robin and Azeem before they kill them. Robin returns to Locksley Castle to find it in ruins and his father left to hang in a cage. When he sees Duncan, he is shocked to find that Duncan’s eyes were put out and that Robin’s father was accused of devil worshiping and allegedly signed a letter of confession in front of the bishop. After burying his father, Robin swears to avenge his death and clear his name, then heads to Peter’s home. When they arrive there, Robin asks to speak to Marian and is allowed inside but unarmed and alone. When he gets to the dining hall, Marian greets him but scoffs at his offer of protection, saying Robin was nothing more than a bully as a child, and has a masked guard draw a sword on him in order to escort him out. Robin and the guard start to fight and as Azeem breaks down the door to help Robin, Robin discovers that the guard is the real Marian. Later, Robin gives Marian Peter’s ring and tells her of his oath but she believes it is merely him making boyish promises in order to alleviate his guilt. When Azeem calls out for him, Robin climbs onto the wall he is sitting on and Azeem hands Robin the spyglass he just made. When Robin looks through it, he sees Gisborne and some soldiers approaching and he and Azeem are forced to steal some of Marian’s horses in order to escape, with Marian yelling at them for doing so in order to appear unfriendly towards them. Robin, Azeem, and Duncan hide in Sherwood Forest, using the stories about the woods being cursed and haunted in order to keep Gisborne and his men from following them. As they make their way through the woods, they are ambushed by a band of outlaws led by a man named John Little. John tells Robin that he can cross in exchange for the medallion Robin is wearing and when Robin refuses, the two fight with staffs for it. John is able to get the best of Robin at first but Robin sneaks up behind him and manages to knock John into the water, where he can’t swim, and John is forced to yield, then offers Robin and his companions to stay the night at their camp. At their camp, Robin makes friends with John and the others but one of the outlaws, Will Scarlett, expresses a fierce hostility towards Robin. The next day, Robin disguises himself and sneaks into Nottingham Castle to attend mass and after the service, speaks with Marian. She tells him that the Sheriff has put a bounty on his head and warns that the Sheriff is making an army but doesn’t know for what purpose. Robin then sneaks into the Bishop of Hereford’s chambers to speak with the Bishop about his father. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is speaking to Marian about Robin stealing her horses and says she should move within the castle walls for her own protection. Marian refuses so the Sheriff hands her a dagger to use as protection and Marian thanks him and says her cousin, King Richard, will reward him for keeping her safe. In the Bishop’s chambers, Robin doesn’t believe the Bishop’s story about his father and goes to leave, only to open the door and see the Sheriff and Gisborne about to enter. Robin quickly slashes the Sheriff’s cheek and shuts the door, then cuts the rope on a chandelier in order to escape out an upper window, with the Sheriff yelling threats at him below. Robin then proceeds to steal the Sheriff’s horse and a bag of bread and rides back to Sherwood Forest, where Will Scarlett and John chastise him for stirring up trouble. Back at Nottingham, the Sheriff orders Gisborne to attack the outlying farms and force the people to turn on Robin and bring him in for the reward. When the angry villagers approach the camp, Will threatens to turn him in for the reward and a pardon but Robin says that the Sheriff will never honor it and hang them as well. As Robin walks away, Will pulls out a knife to throw at him but Wulf, John’s son, shouts out a warning and Robin manages to shoot Will in the hand with an arrow. As Will runs off, Robin speaks with the villagers and tells them that they can learn to fight back against the Sheriff and his men, using the forest to provide food and shelter for them. The villagers begin making weapons and lodgings and Robin and Azeem both work on training them all in how to fight. They then begin robbing the rich barons who ride from London to Nottingham, as Sherwood forest is the only route for them to take. They also stop the Sheriff’s men from harming or stealing from the villagers, giving them the money that they steal from the Sheriff. The Sheriff tries raising the bounty on Robin but his scribe tells him it will do no good as the poor love him, which drives the Sheriff into a rage. During one of the raids, Gisborne is leading a convoy through the woods when he spots two of the outlaws nearby. As Gisborne and some of his men ride off after them, the two outlaws are able to escape by using concealed hiding places. Meanwhile, Robin and the others ambush the remaining guards and hijack the carriage with the treasure, as well as a cart driven by Friar Tuck, then hide all of the bodies, so that when Gisborne returns, there is no sign the convoy was ever there. As Robin opens the chest, he remarks that it is blood money and they should find out what it is for, just as Tuck regains consciousness. When Robin asks him to share some of the beer he is carrying, Tuck attacks him and tries to ride off but is knocked off the cart. Robin forces Tuck to help pull the cart to their camp, then speaks again to Tuck and asks him to join them and Tuck, feeling humbled by what happened, accepts his offer. Some time later, Marian and her servant, Sarah, are riding through the forest when they are set upon by two of Robin’s men and after easily defeating the two men, Marian demands they be taken to Robin. The two men lead her to where Robin was bathing, and then Robin escorts Marian to the camp, showing her how they are managing to survive. As he shows her the gold they stole, Marian thinks he is trying to brag but Robin tells her it is blood money intended to pay off King Richard’s enemies. Later that night, as Robin and Marian continue to talk, they see Wulf running towards John and tell him that Fanny, John’s wife, is dying. Robin and Marian rush to the tent, where Azeem and Tuck are already there, and Azeem, after examining the pregnant Fanny, tells her the baby has turned and can’t be born without help. Tuck tries telling them not to listen to Azeem, as he has been hostile to him due to his being a Moor, but Robin says that they should let Azeem try to help her and John agrees. Azeem has Marian gather some supplies for him and as she runs off and with Robin and Marian assisting him, Azeem is able to safely deliver the baby. As John shows his new son to the crowd, Tuck apologizes to Azeem for his disrespect and offers his friendship to the man. As people begin dancing in celebration, Will approaches Marian and asks her to dance but Robin says she is spoken for and grabs her into the approaching dancing line. The next morning, Robin leads Marian and Sarah to a different way out of the camp and asks Marian for two favors; to take Duncan with her as he worries about his safety, though he tells Duncan that he wants him to go with Marian for her safety. For his second favor, Robin asks Marian to try and get word to King Richard and let him know of the Sheriff’s plans and she says she won’t do this for Richard, but she will for him, then kisses him quickly before boarding a boat and heading back to her home. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is speaking with Mortianna about losing the money he was going to pay the barons and asks her adivse. Mortianna says that he should hire the Celts to defeat Robin and the Sheriff seems pleased at the idea of using them as mercenaries, then Mortianna suddenly suggests marrying Marian in order to produce an heir to Richard’s throne. Meanwhile, Marian writes a letter to King Richard and then gives it to the Bishop to deliver to Richard in Paris. Though the Bishop tries to dissuade her, Marian insists on having Sarah accompany the messenger but as they are riding through the forest, the messenger knocks Sarah unconscious. Later that night, the Sheriff’s men attack Marian’s home and take her away and Duncan manages to get away and ride off to get tell Robin, unaware that he is being followed. When Duncan reaches the camp, he manages to tell Robin what happened just before he dies but before Robin can grieve, a warning cry is sounded as they see a Celt army on the hill. The Sheriff tells the Celt’s leader that he needs prisoners and the Celts attack but Robin and the outlaws are able to drive them off. As they start to cheer, they see the Sheriff’s men armed with flaming arrows and catapults, and the second wave suddenly attacks. Many of the outlaws are killed while others are captured, including Will and Wulf. Robin manages to rescue Fanny and her baby when they are trapped in their tree house but as he tries to escape himself, the rope he is on catches fire and snaps, dropping him into the fires below. That night, the Sheriff approaches the captive Marian and reveals that the Bishop is working for him and that Robin is dead, handing her his family medallion as proof before blackmailing her into agreeing to marry him by threatening to kill the captured children. The Sheriff then heads to the dungeon and asks the captured outlaws of any news concerning Robin and Will says he will kill Robin for him and the Sheriff agrees to let him go, though has him lashed to keep up appearances. Robin, Azeem, Tuck, John, Bull, and Fanny are burying the dead when Will suddenly appears in the woods. John assaults him, accusing him of being a traitor but stops as he sees the lash marks on his stomach. Will tells them that the Sheriff plans to hang their men in the square as entertainment for his wedding to Marian. Robin suspects Will was to use this information to try and kill him and asks Will what he plans to do and Will says it depends on Robin. Will then admits that he is Robin’s half brother and blames Robin for ruining his life but found himself believing in Robin’s crusade against the Sheriff. Shocked into silence, Robin embraces Will and says he will stand by his side and the others agree with him. Meanwhile, the Sheriff is celebrating his upcoming wedding when he discovers Mortianna’s spy holes and confronts her about being a fraud but Mortianna says that she is actually his mother and had killed a baby and substituted him for the dead baby so that he would grow up and be able to fulfill her desire to have her bloodline on the throne. Robin and the others manage to sneak into the castle and take their positions but as the prisoners are being led out, Wulf sees Will in the crowd and attacks him and as the Sheriff asks what is going on, he sees Will and orders him strung up as well. Robin plans on going ahead with their plan but the barrel of black powder that was placed by the hangman’s galley is moved and Will is tied to it in order to be beheaded. As the executions start, Wulf is the first one to be hung but Robin manages to fire an arrow and sever the rope. The Sheriff orders the hangman to continue the executions but Azeem, Robin, and John manage to save the men. As everyone starts to leave, Robin sees Marian being taken away by the Sheriff and he goes after her. Seeing this, Azeem yells out to the crowd and inspires them to rise up with Robin against the Sheriff. Finding their way barred by the gate, Robin and Azeem use a catapult to launch themselves over the wall so they can chase after the Sheriff. Meanwhile, the Sheriff enters the chapel and orders the Bishop to marry him and Marian, with Mortianna doing her best to ensure it proceeds. Robin and Azeem try to break through the door but when they don’t have any luck, Robin tells Azeem to keep trying and he heads up to the roof, then swings down through a window into the room just as the ceremony finishes. The Bishop hastily retreats as Robin and the Sheriff begin fighting while outside, Mortianna attacks Azeem and injures him but he manages to stab her with a spear and she runs off. Tuck catches the Bishop in his chamber and accuses him of selling his soul and when the Bishop asks if he will strike a fellow man of the cloth, Tuck says he won’t, then proceeds to load the Bishop with several containers of gold before pushing him out the window. Robin and the Sheriff continue fighting and the Sheriff gets the upper hand but when he taunts Marian about killing Robin, Robin stabs the Sheriff with the dagger he had given Marian. As the Sheriff falls dead, Robin starts to approach Marian when Mortianna suddenly appears and rushes at Robin with the spear but Azeem finally breaks through the door and throws his scimitar at Mortianna, killing her and telling Robin that he has fulfilled his vow. Later, Tuck is presiding over the marriage of Robin and Marian when King Richard interrupts them, saying he cannot let the wedding commence unless he can give away the bride. Richard thanks Robin for saving his throne then tells Tuck to commence and Robin and Marian kiss after they are wed.
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, several critics praised the fight scenes and visual appeal of locations, while others criticized the story and acting, primarily Kevin Costner and his lack of an English accent during the film. Cary Elwes was offers the role of Robin Hood but he turned it down because he thought the plot was too contrived, which makes his playing Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men In Tights that much funnier. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was a box office hit, earning $390.5 million off of a $48 million budget, making it the 2nd highest grossing movie of 1991 behind T2: Judgement Day.
This is pretty much exactly what you expect to see out of a big budget blockbuster; a lot of action and excitement but a little weak on the plot. The acting was ok, with Morgan Freeman (Azeem) and Alan Rickman (Sheriff) doing fantastic jobs. Several of the other actors also did good jobs, such as Michael Wincott (Gisborne) and Michael McShane (Tuck), and while they did good jobs themselves, I did think it was a little sad that Kevin Costner (Robin) and Christian Slater (Will) didn’t really try to do a British accent. The plot of the movie covered the basic story of Robin Hood but I honestly thought that they could have done a bit better and gone in depth with some of the character development in the story. The action scenes were definitely great and very well coordinated, with the battle against the Celts being very well done. A little lacking as far as plot, but definitely one of the great action movies to come out of the 90’s.
Rating: 4 out of 5