As The Adventures of Maid Marian begins it is the year 1199 in Merry Olde England. Robin (Dominic Andersen, Rocky Horror Show Live, Glow & Darkness) is off fighting with King Richard. Marion (Sophie Craig, Lockdown Kings, Noble) is hiding out in a nunnery, occasionally sneaking out to poach a deer for starving villagers.
Then the word arrives, the king has died and his troops, including Robin, will be returning. Overjoyed, Marion rushes off to meet him. But she’s not the only one who wants to welcome him back. William De Wendenal (Bob Cryer, The Brothers Grimsby, Hollyoaks) the former Sheriff of Nottingham wants to revisit ye olde tymes with him as well.
As many times and ways as the tale of Robin Hood has been told I honestly can only think of one version that’s told it from Marion’s point of view, the BBC comedy Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. Until The Adventures of Maid Marian, most versions have been content to use Marion simply as a damsel in distress, less of a character than a plot device to force Robin and his Merry Men to storm the castle to rescue in the final act.
Writer/director Bill Thomas (Til Death Do Us Part, American Monster) changes that and brings Marion to the forefront of the story after an ambush by the Sheriff’s mercenaries leaves Robin gravely injured. And it makes sense, one would expect that a woman who ran with a group of outlaws would be able to hold her own in a fight. It may not be historically realistic, but when did that matter to these stories?
What does matter is the action scenes, and unlike the recent historical films from Steve Lawson such as The Fourth Musketeer and The Highwayman, The Adventures of Maid Marian actually has exterior shots and action scenes. This is still a low-budget film and the scenes are far from epic, but for what they are they’re perfectly acceptable, apart from the cutting away from Little John’s (Jon Lee Pellet, Fallen Soldiers) first brawl with De Wendenal’s men that is.
Despite a late entrance into the plot, De Wendenal makes sure that The Adventures of Maid Marian has a solid villain. He’s spread his web of corruption far and wide, and he’s more than willing to kill anyone who gets between him and his target. They could be the new sheriff or a nun. it matters not to him. Playing against him, Sophie Craig is a credible heroine. She looks convincing with a bow and fit enough to hold her own in a fight. And while he doesn’t have a lot to do, Jon Lee Pellet is a big enough Little John to look convincing doing it.
The major problem with the casting in The Adventures of Maid Marian is Robin Hood himself. Dominic Andersen is way too bland and pretty to be convincing in the role. At one point Marion teases him that he would look wonderful as a nun. And she’s right, he could easily pass for a young woman.
This becomes an even bigger problem given the final scene with the slimy Warden Tyler (Gerard Cooke, Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot, The Sisters Brothers) and King John (James Groom, Dune Drifter, School of the Damned) that sets up a sequel. They better get Anderson into the gym and find a makeup person to put some age and scars on his face before they shoot it if they want him to look convincing in action scenes.
All in all The Adventures of Maid Marian is a fun historical tale. It can’t compete with bigger budget versions of the story, but it does well on its own level. Thomas has a version of The Three Musketeers in post-production, it’ll be interesting to see what he does with Dumas’ classic.
Signature Entertainment will release The Adventures of Maid Marian to Digital platforms in the UK on May 9th. You can check their Facebook page for more information. And if you’re looking for more historical action, FilmTagger has some suggestions.