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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Year: 1991
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Producer: Peter Densham/John Watson
Writer: Peter Densham/John Watson
Cast: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio, Christian Slater
At the absolute pinnacle of his powers in Hollywood, this was the quintessential Kevin Costner movie - he hadn't become too serious, dour or obsessed with sports movie by then, and while his take on the classic myth was a complete Hollywood fabrication it was such a rollicking good time nobody cared, audiences virtually ignoring the more faithful Patrick Bergin starrer released around the same time.

In what must have been the hundredth adaptation of the story (and they show no signs of slowing down, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett attached to one as I write this), it starts by giving Robin of Loxley an imaginative backstory. A soldier of the Crusades, he escapes from the clutches of the Arabian hordes and makes good his escape back to England with a fellow captive, the Middle Eastern Nazeem (Freeman) in tow.

Arriving home, Robin wants nothing more than to tend his late father's estate and woo the beautiful Maid Marion (Mastrontonio), but the corruption and evil of the local Nottingham Sheriff's rule is making life difficult for Robin and impossible for his peers, so he recruits a band of rogues and goes underground, redistributing wealth among the poor the old fashioned way.

It's every inch and unapologetically a romantic action adventure. Just watch as Robin escorts Marion down in the makeshift elevator of branches and pulleys in the Merry Mens' beautiful wooded hideout, or Robin's apparent delight in his rivalry with Nottingham, which he seems to view as a contest or duel as much as righteous indignation.

At the height of his career, Costner's star burned brighter than that of Cruise, Pitt or Schwarzenegger. Here he's the hero out of a thousand romance novels - rough and ready, boyish, skilled and determined, as good with a bow as he is with the winsome Marion in his grasp.

But as he did in Die Hard only a few years before, Rickman walks off with the whole movie, effortlessly stealing every scene he's in with a panto-style evil that fits perfectly in with the rest of the film's tone.

And as well as being the movie that bought Morgan Freeman to world attention, it was also the first of three pairings between star and director Reynolds before their very famous falling out over Waterworld.

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