Exactly what we needed, another retelling of the tale of ‘Robin Hood’. But this one was different. This was a ‘re-imagining’ as they call it. This one had dragons and sorcerers and magic and stuff. And it had boredom and tedium and tiredness and stuff. Where’s Kevin Costner when you need him?
Before he became Robin of Loxley, Robert, as they called him, was just a boy learning how to handle a bow and arrow, amidst the adoring gaze of the young Marion. This particular day Robert was to meet up with his old man, one of the deputies of Nottingham for an afternoon of Bambi slaughtering. The old man, however, was on a mission to take down this dragon looking beast, so along with his boss the Sheriff of Nottingham and his fellow deputy Malcolm (Julian Sands) the mission is on. A series of events occurs which renders the sheriff dead, the dragon injured, but transformed into a naked chick named Alina (Katherine Isabelle), and Robin’s old man betrayed by the scurrilous Malcolm who has plans for this dragon girl. Never quite figured out what those plans were.
Many years later Robin (Robin Dunne) is the boy band bandit of Sherwood Forest, stealing from whomever and giving it to the destitute. I don’t see these people going to any stores or anything so heaven only knows why they need gold coins. Also, Robin has reconnected with the Maiden Marion (Erica Durance) who has grown up in a most glorious fashion. Marion, as it turns out, is on the run because she doesn’t want to marry the Prince of Austria or something, so she’s just hanging in Sherwood, taking sponge baths and teasing the hell out of poor Robin who still loves her so.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on in this movie because there’s an awful lot of talking in this movie, but I guess the important thing is that Malcolm, the current Sheriff of Nottingham, has released the dragon girl from her long imprisonment to find and kill Robin. You would think once she’s set free the dragon girl would just fly away, but she can’t because… well… she just can’t, okay? It’s kind of silly. Robin, of course, has the usual suspects by his side such as Little John (Mark Gibbon), Friar Tuck (Bill Dow), Will Scarlett (Richard de Klerk) and some little mute boy (Cainan Wiebe) and together they will battle this dragon with less than satisfactory results.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on because ‘Beyond Sherwood Forest’ is nothing if not convoluted, but Robin and his boys will travel to the Dark Woods to find a way to stop the beast, they will meet a bald sorcerer or something who is completely worthless, but really knows how to handle a blue flame, Marion will be captured by the Sheriff, the dragon girl will be sad and depressed, and eventually it will all come down to a big fight between Robin and the Sheriff with Robin Hood stabbing the sheriff in the back. Seriously Robin Hood? I mean seriously?
My goal, as it were, is to become a Sci-Fi Original Movie completist. You could ask me why I’m doing this thing, but I have no real answer for you outside of the fact that it’s good have goals in life, no matter how stupid or idiotic those goals might be. Unfortunately movies such as ‘Beyond Sherwood Forest’ are making these goals just a little more difficult.
But before we pile on director Peter Deluise’s film, let’s discuss briefly what’s decent about it. Surprisingly, the CGI monster is pretty darned good. It’s well designed, it’s well integrated into the surroundings, and the scenes where the monster and the real people are together looked halfway believable. This simple achievement is an extreme rarity in a Sci-Fi original that features a CGI monster. There were also some CGI dogs in the dreaded Dark Forest that also looked good, so hats off the Special Effects team and their solid work in this film. We could mention that both Erica Durance and Katherine Isabelle are fine looking women but then what movie or TV show doesn’t have fine looking women amongst its cast? It’s given, so it’s really not a plus at this point.
Now the problem we had with ‘Beyond Sherwood Forest’ beyond the fact that is an adventure film that has more chatter in it than your average episode of C-Span, would probably be that Robin Dunne didn’t make for much of a strapping rouge thief. Or any kind of a strapping, swashbuckling hero for that matter. We don’t want to mean about it or anything because he does seem like a very nice young man, but I would say he was a bit miscast. It’s a Sci-Fi Original, but I guess Costas Mandylor was busy that week. Mr. Dunne didn’t come off as much of an archer, he didn’t seem to be much of an ass kicker and the final showdown between Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham was completely anti-climactic. Plus they didn’t make the Sheriff evil enough. When Robin’s old man found the shot up dragon-girl, and Malcolm wanted to initially kill her, that seemed to be the correct course of action at the time. I was with the future sheriff on that one. He did treat the girl dragon fairly poorly, but she was a creature flying around eating people. We’d like to tell you how she came to be but the mystical sorcerer kept that a secret from us. He mentioned her mom’s belly was ‘full of seed’ when she returned to the dark forest from our world, which is pretty gross, but full what kind of seed her belly was filled with will remain a mystery. And in the final fight the Sheriff kicked Robin’s ass fair and square. Until he turned his back to tend to a more pressing issue.
As of today, this being the middle of 2011, there are 222 Sci-Fi originals and I’ve seen 83 of them. One Hundred and Forty Freaking Sci-Fi Originals left to see. I hate to be negative, but I don’t think I’m gonna make it.