Reel Critics: 'Robin Hood' battle scenes nail bull's-eye

Daily Pilot

Ridley Scott is no stranger to action-packed adventure films with top-notch production values. He directed "Alien," "Blade Runner" and "Gladiator," among many others. He now brings us another blockbuster epic with a 21st century version of the old tale of "Robin Hood."

A buffed Russell Crowe plays the legendary outlaw with all the great screen presence that made the actor famous. Cate Blanchett, his fellow Australian, is well cast as his feisty equal in the role of Lady Marion. William Hurt and Max Von Sydow have supporting roles that add gravitas to the enterprise. They're all a good fit for this old-fashioned costume drama that captures the harsh ambience of life in the Middle Ages.

The film opens in the early stages of Robin's transformation from a common archer in the 12th century crusade of King Richard the Lion Heart. After Richard is killed in combat, Robin becomes a rebel against the crown that passes to the unworthy King John.

From that point on, a series of events transpires that defies history and logic in many ways. But the film delivers lots of "Braveheart" style battle scenes that will satisfy the basic target audience.

Everything rosy in 'Letters to Juliet' What if you met the love of your life but didn't know it? And what if "what might have been" could turn into a reality?

These are the themes in "Letters to Juliet," a lovely, completely charming story set against amazing Italian landscapes, and which recently closed out the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) are on a pre-wedding honeymoon in Verona that ends up with her being left alone much of the time.

She discovers a lovelorn letter written 50 years ago by Claire, who laments leaving her true love Lorenzo and fleeing back to England without explanation. The result is that the now-elderly Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) comes to Verona in hopes of finding Lorenzo, her handsome but stern grandson (Christopher Egan) in tow.

Everything about this movie is so predictable and yet enjoyable. A big part of this is due to Redgrave, her luminous beauty undiminished. There has always been a gracefulness to her acting, which lends gravitas even to lightweight roles such as this one.

Everything's bathed in golden light, everybody's radiant, everybody's in love. It sounds so cheesy, and yet it works! This is a movie for all hopeless romantics — and hopeful ones as well.

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