24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Russell Crowe

Preview Review: 'Robin Hood' as the new 'Gladiator'?

March 11, 2010 |  1:28 pm

Robinhood A decade ago, Russell Crowe made his mark as a Roman general in Ridley Scott's period epic "Gladiator."

Now the pair have reunited for "Robin Hood," in which Crowe stars as an archer living in 13th century England. In a newly released trailer, we see Robin, who has previously served in King Richard's army fighting the French, travel to a town called Nottingham. There the people must deal with a tyrannical sheriff and heavy taxation, as they have in many previous iterations of the folklore. The plot thickens when Robin falls for local widow Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett).

For a change of pace, we thought we'd engage our colleague John Horn in a discussion about the new trailer.

Amy Kaufman: OK, this seems nothing like that lighthearted Disney cartoon I saw as a kid about a fox named Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor.

John Horn: Not to me. Compared to the film’s first trailer, “Robin Hood” now looks a lot less like “Gladiator” in tights. The trailer makes it feel like it’s an historical epic, with some scale, a bit of humor, some “Matrix”-like flying arrow shots and a bit of romance.

AK: Let’s talk about the romance for a second: Cate Blanchett is yet again a feisty, headstrong young lass who doesn’t need a man to save her. And speaking of reprising old roles -- don’t you think this seems at least a bit “Gladiator”-esque? The clip-clopping of angry horses, heavy armor and rustic scenery make me feel like I’m back in the film Russell Crowe is arguably best known for.

JH: But she can shoot her own arrows! I think the better comparison is not “Gladiator” but “Saving Private Ryan” with horses. The beach landing could very well have been set in Normandy, and the ships sure look like precursors of the Higgins boat, which I am sure you know was among the most important Allied tools in World War II. One thing that also must be said: While I can’t place Crowe’s accent, you have to admit he’s looking a lot better than he did in “State of Play.”

Amy: He does look a bit better since he’s trimmed off that messy mane, and maybe he buffed up a little bit. But I’m not sure his decent looks are enough to lure in a female audience here. Do you think the film has broad enough appeal to be a blockbuster?

John: I’m guessing it’s a solid hit. No "Gladiator." But no "Body of Lies."

Amy: I'll have to agree. It's hard to see how a big action-adventure flick with two Oscar-winners could fare too poorly at the box office.

-- Amy Kaufman and John Horn

Photo: Russell Crowe stars in "Robin Hood." Credit: Universal Pictures

A Crowe is born? Gladiatorial one likely candidate for 'Star' remake

February 3, 2010 |  5:41 pm

With a new remake of "A Star Is Born" gaining momentum at Warner Bros., the studio could be closing in on, well, a star.

Russell Crowe has emerged as the front-runner to take the lead male role of an aging, alcoholic musician who mentors/is schooled by -- and then finds romance with -- a younger female star. While it's not believed there is a formal offer yet, the studio is very high on the 45-year-old actor, who in turn is said to be keen to take the role.

St The female part would likely be played by Beyonce, who has long been associated with the role and has recently elevated her interest in it.

The three previous iterations of "A Star Is Born" have alternated between settings in the film and the music worlds. The most recent one, the 1976 version from Warner Bros. that starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson as doomed pair Esther Hoffman and John Norman Howard, was set in the music world.

Nick Cassavetes has recently entered talks to direct the reboot of the drama, which has spent years in development with various writers (including "Ali's" Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson) taking a crack at it, before getting a new boost with a draft from young screenwriter Will Fetters. Jon Peters, Basel Iwanyk and Billy Gerber are producing. Sean Penn and Robert Downey Jr. had been some of the names said to be considered by the studio before Crowe emerged as the front-runner.

If it comes off, a Crowe-Beyonce pairing would serve as one of the most prominent onscreen interracial romances since 1992’s “The Bodyguard,” which teamed Kevin Costner with the female singing sensation of the day, Whitney Houston.

A Crowe casting would also mark a return to the dramas of earlier in his career. The New Zealand-born actor has taken his career in the direction of high-end thrillers lately; starring in an international espionage thriller ("Body of Lies), domestic political thriller ("State of Play") and a jail-break thriller (the upcoming "The Next Three Days") -- something of a departure from awards bait such as "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Insider" that marked the earlier part of his career. He'll next be seen in Ridley Scott's interpretation of "Robin Hood.”

Crowe has also signed on with “Slumdog Millionaire” writer Simon Beaufoy and Maria Bello to produce a new HBO series, “Emergency Sex,” based on the true-life experiences of a trio of expatriate non-governmental workers overseas.

--Steven Zeitchik and Rachel Abramowitz

Photo: "A Star Is Born." Credit: Warner Bros.


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