Waiter! There’s a Dragon in my Movie!
So, I’ve just finished watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones. I’m a late-comer to the series, and I’ve really been digging it so far. Being in a medieval fantasy mood, I decided that this week’s film would be a delightful adventure called Beyond Sherwood Forest. This movie presents a more fantasy genre spin on the Robin Hood story. Sanctuary’s Robin Dunne stars as…..Robin, and the impeccable Julian Sands plays what he usually plays–a villain. Let’s get started.
Everyone knows the Robin Hood story right? A guy runs around the forest wearing a Robin Hood outfit. He steals from the rich to give to the poor. He causes a ruckus with the Sheriff of Nottingham and makes trouble for the vile Prince John. His band of merry men join him in all this, and his true love Maid Marian assists when she can. So now that we’re all on the same page….
The film opens with a dragon sighting. Hold it! A what?!!! That’s right, it’s a dragon! I don’t quite recall that from the stories, but okay, sure. A dragon. Apparently this does go way beyond Sherwood Forest. (har har)
Three men are on horseback. They are tracking the dragon which they’ve shot with an arrow. Julian Sands is in this trio, so I know someone’s probably going to be double-crossed. It’s what he does in movies–except for Arachnophobia. In that movie, the spiders double-crossed him. *shudder* First guy attacks the dragon head-on. Stupid man… The dragon swipes at him and down on the ground he goes. So off go 2nd Man and Julian Sands on the trail of the dragon. When they find it, she’s a naked lady with an arrow sticking out of her. Also, she has healing powers. Julian kills 2nd man. A very young Robin sees the whole bloody deed, and then runs from Mr. Sands–as I would too.
As they go deeper into the forest, they both find some odd portal showing another world. It’s a blacklight world that looks kind of chilly. Maybe it’s some sort of new age rave going on in there. Now, I’ve recapped all that because honestly, there’s no other way to explain where we are and how we got there. And where are we?
We are here: Robin Dunne and his beardy self sleeping in the woods. He wakes up like people in movies always do–immediately wide awake and alert. Marian is now in Sarah Connor mode. She’s wearing some pants, and she’s practicing her fighting skills. And we are formally introduced to Robin’s merry men. Next we meet Prince John. We know he’s an evil prince because his face is covered in acne, and he’s got crazy eyes. Last, but not least, the new, new Sheriff of Nottingham: Julian Sands. You saw it coming, people!
Fun fact: Robin claims to know every leaf in the forest like the back of his hand. That’s a lot of leaves.
So all this time while we’ve been waiting for Robin to grow up and grow a beard, the Sheriff has been holding the dragon lady captive. He has some sort of power over and and sends her out like an awesome winged monkey so she can do his dirty work for him. [Side note: After almost every close up in which Sands emits some villainous line, the shot lingers on him for a few seconds. That’s just enough time for viewers to insert their own “mwah ha ha…” It’s a totally interactive movie!]
Dragon attack on the town!!!! It’s about time. We’ve had this dragon the whole movie s o far, and all it’s really done is turn into a lady. It’s a pretty good action scene. The gang fights the dragon as best they can, but it escapes. Off we go to the Dark Woods to find the Keeper of the Trees who knows the answers to the dragon problem. This is a job for Little John, Robin, and Will Scarlet. No girls allowed. Our He-Man Woman Hater’s Club stands before the glowing blue portal that leads into the ominously named Dark Woods. Will delivers the token obvious line of the movie: “Those are the Dark Woods, then?”
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where our movie suddenly grinds to a halt. It seems there are 2 stories here. One is Robin Hood. The other I’m calling The Misadventures of Dragon Lady: Who Left the Dark Woods When She Shouldn’t Have and Couldn’t Return When She Wanted To.” Too long a title?
We literally have to stop things so Robin can find some glowing pink berries that only grow in the Dark Woods and are the only thing that can solve this dragon problem. It’s like Robin Hood left the movie, dealt with the dragon backstory and side-quest, and then showed back up. However, once he’s back, and rejoins all the action, the movie kicks back into gear and is fun, fun, fun all the way to the end. Though I’ve been nit-picking a bit, I’ve actually enjoyed parts of this movie. Sure there are some crazy things in the movie (dragons, portals, wacky bald dudes), but it’s an interesting spin on an old tale. However, that said, it seems to me that the very thing that was supposed to enhance the story of Robin Hood, hinders it. I imagine the folks who thought up this movie having a conversation like this:
Fred: Man, I wonder if there’s a way we could make Robin Hood into a sci-fi story.
Bob: You know what’s cool? Dragons. Dragons are cool.
Fred: Dragons are freakin’ awesome dude!
Bob: What if there was a dragon, and Robin Hood had to fight it?
Fred: Oh! And what if it came from another dimension?
Bob: Dude! There’d be some badass portal…
Together: …in Sherwood Forest!
I’ll tell you what’s more interesting than the boring B-story though: Robin Dunne’s hair. I guess so that his beard doesn’t overwhelm his entire head, he’s let his hair get kind of poofy. Maybe he’s just putting on extra fur for the winter. Maybe he’s been living rough in the woods all these years, and it’s hard to find a good barber in Sherwood Forest. Don’t get me wrong, I like Robin Dunne. He’s totally cool on Sanctuary, and I hope to catch him in more things, but it’s hard to believe he’s been living in the woods. I know what I look like after just 24 hours of camping. There’s no way he’s that pretty after years of sleeping in the leaves. No way…
Quite recently, I was discussing the phrase “out of no where” with a buddy of mine. He pointed out that nothing comes from out of nowhere. Something always comes from somewhere. I’m using his views to summarize my thoughts on this movie. That dragon plot element came from out of nowhere. The mistake was in explaining the somewhere to us. There was no need. Look people, most folks aren’t too stupid. You don’t have to explain every little thing. Those of us who religiously watched Lost or more recently Prometheus are used to not knowing many–if any–answers to our questions. If there’s a dragon, then it’s there, and that’s okay. Because as everyone knows,dragons are freakin’ awesome!