Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A night at the movies

I don't go out to the movies much. Since the days of the VCR, I've found I much prefer to wait for the video release and watch at home. Just the same, Mrs. Poolbar occasionally gets me to agree to catching one at a theater, so last night we went and caught "Robin Hood" at the new Muvico Village theaters here in Fredericksburg. I'll come back to the movie in a moment, but first a quick word about the theater complex.

Muvico is in the new area being built at Spotsylvania Towne Center mall. Besides the theaters, it also boasts bowling alleys and the Chatterbox Lounge, a bar that's part of the "Premier VIP" movie theater seating. You can grab your alcoholic beverages of choice at the bar and bring them with you to your oh-so-spacious and comfortable lounge chair for the movie. If you don't mind spending $15 for a movie ticket, it's great. My only complaint is that the air conditioning seemed to be running at full blast, and there I was in shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt. Anyway, back to the movie.

I don't do movie reviews, so this isn't one. I don't really have a critical eye for cinematography and the like, and short of pathetically poor acting, I can't tell an Oscar-winning performance from a ho-hum average one. For me, movies get one of three ratings: "Great", "OK" or "Sucks". A "great" movie is any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, or The Caine Mutiny or something like that. Most romantic comedies Mrs. Poolbar puts on the tube are "OK", except for those that "suck". Other movies that "suck" are Mulholland Drive and Punch-Drunk Love.

Now that you have a basis for what movies I like and don't like, I'll tell you that Robin Hood is "great". It's fun with good action scenes, a good story line (and a more historically plausible back story for the Robin Hood character than traditional tellings) and has villains you love to hate and heroes you want to cheer on. If some of the sub-plots are a little hurried and a bit sketchily filled in, they can be forgiven for the ambitious effort of laying out the complex medieval politics of the day.

I'm not going to give away any plot spoilers, but DON'T READ THIS PART if you want to keep something of a visual surprise near the end. When France invades England in the film's climactic battle scene, Ridley Scott pays a bit of an homage to Saving Private Ryan, complete with 12th century landing craft suspiciously reminiscent of those used in World War 2. Truth be told, they look just like those boats, but with oars. The homage is made complete with underwater footage of disembarking French soldiers dying under a shit-storm of arrows, blood-streaked water and helmets and what-not sinking to the bottom.

As I said, the Robin Hood back story is more historically plausible to me in this telling than in the traditional ones. The whole movie is about what turned a man into Robin Hood, and ends where the traditional tellings begin with Robin Hood, Lady Marian and the Merry Men living as outlaws and leaves open the possibility of a Robin Hood movie franchise to continue the story.

Fun stuff, highly recommended.

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