Whether it's accurate or not, this "Robin Hood" makes for fascinating entertainment and offers teens a richly imagined look at medieval English life with a good dollop of history.
It's too violent and bawdy for preteens. Director Ridley Scott and his writers have created a prequel to the Robin Hood legend. It recounts how a marksman named Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), having fought with King Richard the Lionheart on a Crusade, becomes disillusioned by his king as they loot French castles on the way back. After Richard is killed, Robin and a small band of friends make their way back to England, where they get on the wrong side of the new king, Richard's petulant brother John (Oscar Isaac).
Robin and his men go to Nottingham to return the sword of a fallen knight. The knight's widow is Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett), who soon joins with Robin in fighting injustice by the crown and the church, and in a tentative romance.
One of King John's own advisers (Mark Strong) is a traitor who's helping the French invade England. Robin and his men help fend off the French, too. This Robin even urges the king to sign Magna Carta. Who knew?
The bottom line: The level of violence in "Robin Hood" is at least as intense as in the recent "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, also rated PG-13. Soldiers are run through with arrows or swords amid much battlefield mayhem. You don't see blood, gore or horses killed in the fray. Some peasants are struck, run over and in danger of being burned alive by soldiers. There is considerable mild sexual innuendo, both between Robin and Lady Marion (as when he asks her to help undo his chain mail). Robin's men get drunk and frolic with local women, occasionally with semi-explicit enthusiasm. Marion kills a would-be rapist. There is rare profanity.