When I learned there was a Robin Hood movie out there I hadn’t seen that starred Keira Knightley I knew I had to track it down. Princess of Thieves isn’t the most original tale of a headstrong young girl showing her father she can stand on her own, but it does provide its share of moments.
The film didn’t have the biggest budget (it was a made-for-TV project which premiered on The Wonderful World of Disney), but in look and style (if not writing) it compares favorably to similar projects including the recent Robin Hood BBC series.
The film centers around the daughter of Robin Hood (Stuart Wilson) and Marian (Hannah Cresswell) who has grown estranged from her father, whom she sees rarely. When news reaches that Richard the Lionheart is dying the king sends his chosen heir, his only son Phillip (Stephen Moyer), into Robin Hood’s keeping and away from the treacherous plans of Prince John (Jonathan Hyde).
Things go awry and Gwyn (Knightley), who has defied her father’s orders by dressing as a young boy and joining the fight, soon finds herself responsible not only for the future king of England but the rescue of her father from the Sheriff of Nottingham (Malcolm McDowell) as well.
The film gives us several trademark pieces including the band of outlaws in the middle of Sherwood Forest, a pretty impressive Nottingham Castle (especially given the film’s limited budget), and chance for Gwyn to demonstrate her ability at an archery tournament judged by the Sheriff of Nottingham himself.
The supporting cast is well chosen, especially McDowell who eats scenery at will as the villainous Sheriff, but the film’s success or failure rests squarely on the shoulders of a young Keira Knightley who, even at the age of 15, has a beauty and screen presence that carries the film through its more rough patches.
And the film does have its share of blemishes including the third act’s instantaneous travels from Nottingham to the Tower in London in the short amount of time that would make a Star Trek transporter blush. The dialogue is at times very corny as is the completely unnecessary love triangle between Phillip, Gwyn, and her best friend (Del Synnott) which unnecessarily weighs down several scenes until the prince reveals himself to be the future king.
The single-disc DVD includes commentary by director Peter Hewitt and a short behind-the-scenes featurette which focuses primarily on the challenges of filming the movie in Romania (which is actually very interesting). Princess of Thieves certainly isn’t going to blow you away, but fans of Robin Hood, and especially those of Knightley, should have an enjoyable enough time with this tale of a young woman’s journey from daughter of a hero to hero herself.