Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

robin hood prince of thieves poster 1991 movie kevin costner
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Morgan Freeman, surprise ending cameo

The acting and story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves

Studio:  Morgan Creek

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 14, 1991

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Explosions and mullets…everything you never wanted in a Robin Hood movie!

Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) has escaped imprisonment during the Crusades with the help of a Muslim named Azeem (Morgan Freeman).  Robin and Azeem return to Robin’s home to find his world destroyed.  His father was branded a pagan and killed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman), and the people are living in fear.  When Robin is forced to flee to the woods of Sherwood, he forces a war between the people and the Sheriff’s men.  Now, Robin and his allies are on the run and in danger as Robin finds himself falling in love with his childhood friend Marian Dubois (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).


Pray all you want Azeem…you can’t save this movie

Directed by Kevin Reynolds, Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves is modernized telling of the classic Robin Hood tale.  The movie was released to mixed reviews by critics but became a massive box office success (the only film that beat it that year was the even bigger T2:  Judgment Day).  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, but also won Kevin Costner a Razzie for Worst Actor with another nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for Christian Slater (with his film Mobsters).

I never had any interest to see Robin Hood when it was in the theaters.  I thought it looked dull and goofy from the promos…watching it when it was released on VHS, I found it to be just that.  I let Robin Hood rest (20+ years) and rewatched it…to find it was even worse than I remembered it.


The romance of watching paste dry

The movie needed an editor both in its writing and production.  It is long and tedious.  Often the film panders to melodrama and schlocky dialogue that you can predict long before it is even said.  Add to that a romance with no sparks, and you get almost three hours (with the extended version) of a story you know told in a really boring way.

Part of the blame lies in Kevin Costner who (like in many of his films) just seems to sleepwalk through his performance.  Exciting events like swordfights and archery just are mundane…plus, you have his atrocious English accent that comes and go (but mostly goes).  You have a rather undistinguished group of “Merry Men” (something that sometimes adds some fun to Robin Hood adaptations) and you get Christian Slater challenging Kevin Costner for his bad acting.  Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio isn’t bad as Maid Marian but is forced to act with Costner as her lead.  Alan Rickman was praised for his Sheriff of Nottingham, but I found he just acted crazy in a flat movie.  The saving grace (and only interesting character) was the outsider Muslim Azeem played by Morgan Freeman…plus a surprise (pre-internet spoilers) cameo by Sean Connery.


Now we’re even from The Untouchables…right?

The movie sometimes succeeds in its look but often fails.  The sets look like sets and you have really bad stuff like perfect manhole covers in the Middle East.  With a lush English setting, Robin Hood should have eaten up the scenery and gone for flashy cinematics to cancel out the script and acting.

Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves is one of those movies that doesn’t even fall into that “so-bad-it-is-good” category.  I think there are plenty of films worse than the movie that are more watchable because even if they are bad, they are still fun.  Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves takes the fun out of a fun story and takes 2+ hours of your life in the process.

Related Links:

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Robin Hood (1973)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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