Poor Robin Hood. Ridley Scott's new film has had a troubled history - the original proposal to cast the unbelievably wooden and wimpy Sienna Miller was just the most obvious difficulty. It was also ridiculously named Nottingham in its earliest script drafts - even as a born and bred resident I get that as a title that would have just confused audiences outside the UK.
And then there was Scott's desire to work with Russell Crowe - again. Recapturing the triumphant moment of Gladiator, now 10 years ago.
Was it worth it?
Actually, it's not bad. There is an inventive narrative thread that develops the traditional background to Robin Hood, and I'm actually rather glad to move away from a Sheriff of Nottingham dominated storyline (Matthew Macfadyen is rather wasted but does a wonderfully camp turn without making you think of Alan Rickman).
Cate Blanchett offers a fine Marian, by far the best and least annoying Marian I've seen in a good while.
And the action sequences, from the hapless over-confident Richard getting it in the neck from a 'trying his luck' French cook with a cross-bow, to the recreating WWII on the beaches sequences, make for a thrilling movie.
But, especially in light of the Mark Lawson incident, never mind all these other remarks - how was THE accent?
Ah yes, Russell Crowe's accent has become almost the stuff of legend regarding this movie. Which in many respects is a real shame, not least because it isn't THAT bad -- it just isn't very consistent (there is an undeniable wandering of the British Isles) and it pretty much isn't north Nottinghamshire/South Yorkshire. He does quite a mean Liverpudlian though.
But this is actually possible to overlook. And I have several reasons for this.
(1) Crowe does this sort of film very well. He has a meanness and an action quality to him and shapes up pretty well for this film. He still has a great ability to bring out softness at the edges of his performance and their is a wry humour and sparkle when more comedic scenes demand it.
(2) There is so much to look at and enjoy about this film that if you're paying that much attention to one accent then you're missing the point.
(3) Mark Lawson's interviewing makes me want to hit things. Crowe's characteristic high-pitched giggle and 'fuck-this' attitude to the inane questions and remarks certainly had me cheering.
So, I'd say, worth a punt. Don't go expecting Gladiator and you'll be fine. Don't go thinking you're hear a pitch-perfect consistent accent from Crowe and you'll be fine (heck, even my accent wanders). Go ready to enjoy a good period action romp and you'll be fine.
Plus: it doesn't have bloody Bryan Adams on the soundtrack. Win-Win.