Everyone knows Robin Hood. Whether you know the story or not, you know the name. But there was more to the legend than this one man; after all, he has a whole band of ‘merry-men’ around him acting as a supporting cast. One of the main figures of his legend is Maid Marian, a capable female warrior who was also Robin’s love interest. Over the years Marian has been given meatier roles in various adaptations, from being the true leader of the Merry Men in the BBC children’s show, to little more than a prisoner of the villains that Robin has to rescue. Whatever role she takes, she’s become a key part of the story of Robin Hood.
Writer and director Bill Thomas has forgone telling the story that we’re familiar with, of the dashing hero thief working against a villainous sheriff, and has set his story years after the tale of Robin Hood has come to a close. Set years after Robin has won and joined the King in his war abroad, The Adventures of Maid Marian focuses on the person he left behind, his love, Marian (Sophie Craig).
Marian has spent the last three years living in a small convent under an assumed name, keeping her identity secret from those around her. She’s pretty bad at being a nun, and regularly sneaks off to go and help people in the surrounding area as a masked archer. When Marian hears that King Richard the Lionheart has died and his soldiers will be returning home, she leaves the convent and travels to the pre-arranged place where she hopes to meet Robin (Dominic Andersen) again.
Robin returns from the war, and the two of them make plans to finally be together, to make a life with each other and get the happy ending that they were denied all these years. Unfortunately, others intend to ruin these plans. The disgraced and exiled Sheriff of Nottingham (Bob Cryer) has returned to seek revenge against Robin. With a group of mercenaries helping him, he begins to hunt the two young lovers across the countryside, determined to make them pay for everything they did to him.
The Adventures of Maid Marian is billed as being ‘her story’; it’s on the poster for the film, and she’s front and centre of all the marketing. And whilst she is the central focus of the film and we follow her throughout, this doesn’t really feel like her story. When the film started and she was sneaking out of the convent to help folks I was expecting that she would upset the wrong person, or end up becoming a wanted criminal and it would be her own actions that spur the events of the film on. Instead, this is more of a follow-up to Robin Hood’s story, and is still very much about him.
The villain of the piece has his sights set on hurting Robin, and even says more that he didn’t intend to do anything to her. He does put her in danger, and sets his men to harm her, but only when she tries to stop him from killing Robin. So yes, she might be the hero of the film, she might be the one having to step up and save the day, but she does so in order to resolve a man’s story, and as such it doesn’t really feel like, as the title suggests, this is her adventure.
Another thing that I found that stood out when watching the film is that things such as costumes, arms and armour look pretty good. But perhaps a little too good. Clothing looks bright and fresh and brand new, like they’d just been made that morning. Whilst this isn’t really too big of an issue in itself – after all it is period accurate clothing – nothing looks worn or lived in. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt by big fantasy and historical productions where they’re able to give over more time and money to such things, but The Adventures of Maid Marian never looks like it is taking place in a real historical setting, and looks more like an reenactment.
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The action also feels a little flat at times too, and whilst there is nothing majorly wrong with it there are never any moments where things feel really dangerous. The fighting has a slightly sluggish feel to it, like the participants are simply going through the motions instead of genuinely fighting for their lives. The choreography never tries to do anything inventive or new, and the film doesn’t really offer anything that we’ve not seen before elsewhere.
The Adventures of Maid Marian tries to be entertaining, and in that regard it doesn’t exactly fail. It’s an entertaining enough way to spend a couple of hours, but if you’re looking for something to wow you, to become your new historical epic go-to film, this may not meet those expectations.
The Adventures of Maid Marian is out on Digital Platforms on 9th May from Signature Entertainment.