Apr 16 2012

Review: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Nostalgia

You know how you have fond memories of a TV show or movie from when you were young, and when you finally get to see it again as an adult (or in this case, older adult), it isn’t quite how you remembered it? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s amazing, but some other times, well, not that good. Or awful.

One of the first non-animated movies we got for the girls when they were little was The Goonies; Heather and I both loved that movie. When we sat down to watch it, it was every bit as awesome as we remember (well, maybe not every bit–back then I still held out hope of finding underground passages, booby traps, waterslides, and hidden pirate ships). But there was something neither of us remembered: profanity–and a whole $@#&! lot of it.

Some other memories haven’t fared so well, either. A couple years ago I found Bravestarr on Hulu. If you haven’t seen it, it was a cartoon that was basically a sci-fi western. It was awesome when I was 14. When I watched it recently, the animation and draftsmanship were still amazing, but what else would you expect from Filmation? Everything else, though, was absolutely awful. For so long Heather wanted Greatest American Hero on DVD. We never got it for her, getting her Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver instead, but she finally found GAH on Netflix. She didn’t even make it through the first episode.

Glory Days

Back on topic. The year was 1991. I was in summer classes at CMSU (now UCM), taking Dr. Sample’s Drawing II (three hours a day, three days a week) and Dr. Leuhrman’s Watercolor I (four hours a day, five days a week). I absolutely loved my watercolor class. It was one of the few classes where I actually tried hard to learn, tried to please my instructor, and begged for honest critiques (unlike pretty much every other art class). I only remember a few people from class: Dr. Leuhrman, the instructor, who always wore whites and pastels, and never got a drop of paint on him; some big guy, whose name I can’t remember, but who had a giant mane of jet black hair, a jawline beard, and was one of the few people in art school that made me insanely jealous of his ability; a girl named Ashley; and a cheery young woman named Elsa, whom I would later name my firstborn after. The big hits that summer were Wind of Change by the Scorpions, and Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, from the summer blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

I think it was Wilxn , or maybe Wayne, who was with me when I saw the trailer for RHPOT (at the AMC theater inside Bannister Mall…remember Bannister Mall? Back before it went all skeevy and they tore it down?). Wilxn and I went to see it in the theater that summer. It was amazing. I think that was the day we went to the Swap Shop, saw two movies (the other one, I believe, was Mel Gibson’s Hamlet), and probably went just looking around for stuff. We got home late (when didn’t we?), and that was when we realized it really was possible to do too much stuff in one day.

Back to the movie–easily my favorite movie of the whole summer.

Back to the Present

Later I saw it a couple of times on VHS. I know I saw it once with Noodles, whose favorite line was at almost the end of the movie: “Reckanize this?”

A couple weeks ago I picked up a copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on DVD. I have had Michael Kamen’s amazing soundtrack for years, but I hadn’t seen the movie in at least 17 years. Last night while I was working on a case for my new Bible I popped the movie in.

It was terrible.

The movie is so hammy, so goofy, and what I believe to be unintentionally campy it’s hard to believe I enjoyed it as a serious adventure flick. I’m not going to say anything about the movie’s most frequent complaint–Kevin Costner’s accent–because it didn’t bother me then and it didn’t bother me now.

Alan Rickman, who is awesome, chews scenery with the power of a thousand suns. His inflections in so many scenes are so funny, it almost seems like Kevin Reynolds (the director) told him, ‘Hey Alan, can you play the Sheriff of Nottingham kind of like Peter Ustinov played Prince John in Disney’s Robin Hood? That’d be great.’ Rickman’s Sheriff doesn’t just say ‘spoon,’ he says ‘speeooon!’

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, whom I remember being very pretty, um, I did not now think was very pretty (of course, all women are less pretty after being married to Heather).

Morgan Freeman was awesome as Azeem. One of my favorite parts of the movie, both as a young buck and now, was the part where Mortiana the witch busts in and and tries to impale Robin, and then Azeem busts in and throws that gigantic scimitar across the entire screen. I remember it caught Wilxn and me so off-guard I think we literally yelled in the theater. I guess we’re the kind of guys that Shakespeare had to make comedy relief for, for fear we’d jump up and stab an actor. Whatever. Lincoln would back me up on this.

Everyone else was fine, whatever. The movie’s real weakness is the goofy script and hammy directing.

Best part of the entire movie, then and now: the late Michael Kamen’s amazing score (he also did the incredible score for Hudson Hawk). For those of you who don’t think you could pick out anything from the soundtrack aside from Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do, I guarantee you have heard it, usually when you hear  that amazing fanfare accompanying the Magic Kingdom logo at the beginnings of a number of Disney movies.

The DVD Itself

The RHPOT DVD itself, well, is amazingly bad. You actually have to flip the disc over in the middle of the movie. This isn’t like Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, where the movie is so amazingly long that it literally won’t fit on a single disc, but the producers of the DVD realized this and made an elegant transition for you to get some more popcorn, go to the bathroom, come back and pop in the second disc. With Robin Hood, the disc-flip happens mid-scene.

For those of you out there who want to get into DVD production but you think your low IQ or lack of skill might keep you from realizing your dream, there is hope.

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Jan 22 2012

Quotable: Sam Duncan

“From the day that you’re born
to the day you ride in the hearse
things are never so bad
that they couldn’t get worse.”

Sam Duncan was an African American educator in Higginsville, Missouri from the 1950s-1970s where he taught a number of classes and coached several sports. The high school’s football field is named in his honor.

Despite his wise and cynical advice and his years of teaching service, my own personal experience with Mr. Duncan was far less impressive. We were in American History–the first class that was really a challenge for me–and Mr. Duncan was subbing in for Mr. Pace. One of the preps that usually caused problems was whistling–just barely audibly, and just enough to be annoying. My friend Wilxn was sitting in front of him, and Mr. Duncan accused Wilxn of being the whistler. Wilxn--your semi-standard nerd who was almost always good in class–thought the situation was so absurd as to be humorous.

“It’s not me,” Wilxn said, smiling.

“Don’t get smart with me,” Mr. Duncan snapped at Wilxn. “I’ll take those glasses off of you and show you somethin’!”

Sadly, this only provided confirmation bias to what I felt about authority figures in general.

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Apr 25 2009

The girl and the fish

As Bill Cosby would say, I told you the previous story to tell you this story.

Several years ago when my girls were about five and seven, Heather and I took them hiking at Ha Ha Tonka state park in Camdenton, Missouri. After we had hiked from the castle all the way down past the spring to the island, Heather stayed back to rest while I took the girls hiking around the island.

As we rounded the last leg of the trail, we came upon a dead bass on the shore, probably about six or seven pounds. It was really bloated, and I couldn’t help think back to Wilxn’s story.

While I stood there mentally noting the difference between boys and girls, my seven year old asked me:

“Can we poke it with a stick?”

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Apr 24 2009

Wilxn and the cow

My friend Wilxn was telling me about the time when he was 12 and he and some friends found a dead cow.

“It was all dead and bloated,” he started. “So I grabbed a long stick–”

“You poked it?” I asked incredulously.

“I didn’t even get the chance,” he said. “It just exploded!”

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Apr 23 2009

Wilkson

My friend Wilkson always had a hard time with people misreading or mispronouncing his name: Wilkerson, Wilskerin, Wilkerins, Wilskerinson, etc.

But I think I have come up with a clean, phonetic replacement: Wilxn.

I realize there is a small chance it could be pronounced wilzn, but I’m willing to take my chances.

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