Marc Streitenfeld’s Robin Hood is a surprisingly good score with some inspiring and very heroic music for the titular character.
The 2010 reboot of Robin Hood itself was rather bland, but Marc Streitenfeld’s fantastic score provided a rich, orchestral and semi-medieval backdrop to an otherwise forgettable film. So without further ado, let’s dive into the review.
The album opens with Destiny, a slow and rather ominous-sounding piece. Low brass takes the forefront initially before vocals then appear in the background – together they play out the introduction of a dark and mysterious theme that makes numerous appearances throughout the score. The vocals are gone almost as quickly as they arrived however as louder percussion-backed brass then introduces itself as it plays through a louder and more prominent rendition of the Destiny theme. Percussion then takes centre stage for the back half of the track with some rapid and if I am honest rather generic action music before the track then ends.
While not having a fantastic start to the album, Robin Hood more than makes up for it with the third cue; Fate Has Smiled Upon Us. This is the main theme of the score – one that is meant to represent Robin himself. Strings set up a rapid pace right as the music begins, sounding out an inspiring and rather heroic theme before brass then takes over the forefront a minute into the track. This then plays out the theme again in a loud and glorious fashion before the music then draws to an unfortunately short close. All in, Fate Has Smiled Upon Us is easily the standout cue of the score, as it introduces a bold and epic theme for the titular character that fits well with the medieval setting of the film as well as the rest of the score.
Planting The Fields starts off with what sounds like a lute (?) based rendition of the main theme that slowly evolves as the track goes on to a more heroic and strings-backed rendition by the end. It is a beautiful example of how versatile and interesting Streitenfeld’s main theme for the score can be, as the music sounds fantastic here despite the track’s annoyingly short runtime of just over a minute. This noble musical style thankfully however continues through into Sherwood Forest, which is a less thematic but nonetheless a rather inspirational strings-based piece. Just like the previous piece however it is also far too short – a problem that unfortunately most of the score has.
John Is King switches up the tone from hero to villain, as dark and ominous-sounding vocals take the forefront for what sounds like the main villain theme of the score – this one representing Prince (here King) John, Robin Hood’s classic nemesis. Unfortunately, I do feel that his theme is somewhat lacking, especially when it is put up against the titular character’s absolutely amazing one. When comparing the two I can definitely see musical decision similarities to Alan Silvestri’s score to Ready Player One – a score that also had a fantastic hero theme and a very generic and dull villain one. It’s a shame, as everyone knows a hero needs a good villain in order to really stand out. Certainly the ones that do (for example – Harry Potter, The The Flash) are much better for it.
Streitenfeld then leans back towards the more emotional side of the score with Robin Speaks, a slow, dramatic brass-based piece that plays as Robin Hood delivers a motivating speech in the film. The way the music slowly builds from quiet, hopeful brass to full on epic at the end is absolutely fantastic, and (I’ve said it before, I know) it is just a shame that like the others this track is very short. Streitenfeld’s music here is great, there just isn’t enough of it.
The main action segment of the score begins with Siege and runs through Landing Of The French right up until The Final Arrow. I find with segments such as this that it is better to review them as a whole (another similarity with Ready Player One). The action as a whole here is great, being mostly brass-based and containing some very epic and dramatic moments. The main Robin Hood theme makes numerous prominent appearances, which are more than welcome given how amazing the theme is and how underused it has been in the score so far. The Destiny theme also plays once or twice, although in a much less significant manner than the main one. Overall this segment makes for a very enjoyable action setpiece, although I feel it could’ve used the main themes a little more – particularly the villain one.
Streitenfeld’s score then closes out with the prominently vocal The Legend Begins which then moves rather nicely into Merry Men, a track that doubles down on the medieval aspect of the score with a primarily strings and vocal based rendition of the glorious main theme.
Overall, the score to Robin Hood is very good, with a fantastically heroic main theme that I honestly can’t sing the praises of enough. However, both Fate Has Smiled Upon Us and Merry Men are far too short, especially since they are the best representatives of the main Robin Hood theme on the album. They both start quietly and slowly build up to epic proportions, and then stop right when the music sounds like it’s about to really get going. This is incredibly frustrating since the composer could do so much more with it (for instance fleshing it out properly with a good four minute track). The villain theme is also fairly dull as well as underused, which is a shame.
Robin Hood has the potential but doesn’t quite deliver on it.
Standout Cue: 3. Fate Has Smiled Upon Us