BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST – which aired on SyFy Channel last year and arrived on home video in May – tries to hammer the Robin Hood mythos into the sword-and-sorcery genre with terrible results. It is a mess of a film, filled with unimpressive CGI, a problematic cast, and severe story issues.
Beyond Sherwood Forest starts with a young Robin Hood witnessing a crappy looking dragon killing his pa. Flash forward a few decades, and Robin Hood (all grown up and played by Robin Dunne) is stealing from the rich to give to the poor and pissing off the evil Prince John (David Richmond-Peck). So Prince John enlists the help of the Sheriff of Nottingham (a very hammy Julian Sands), who uses the crappy looking dragon from the opening to hunt down and kill Robin Hood. But the twist is the shitty looking dragon is actually a pretty damn cute looking shape shifter, Alina (Katharine Isabelle), and the Sheriff promises to help break her curse of turning into a dragon if she kills both Robin Hood and his merry men. There’s also this “stargate-looking” effect that separates two worlds and is never really explained. Fweh!! Got all that?
Besides the story being all over the place, Beyond Sherwood Forest is weak in the acting department. Robin Dunne, who’s no newcomer to the genre (he was in 2002’s American Psycho 2, 2004’s Species 3, & SyFy’s series Sanctuary) is completely miscast as Robin Hood. He gives no edge to the character and is totally unbelievable as a renegade bandit. Erica Durance (2003‘s House of the Dead and 2006‘s Butterfly Effect 2) as Maid Marian, on the other hand, plays her role with energy that is fun to watch while she kicks ass all over the place (plus, she’s not too hard on the eyes). Finally there’s Julian Sands. Oh Julian. Where’s that quirky, borderline crazy “Julian Sands” that starred in Warlock (1989), Arachnophobia (1990), and Naked Lunch (1991)? Here, Sands is just pure cheese, and you couldn’t help thinking, “Sands is no Alan Rickman!!”
Directed by Peter DeLuise (yes, that DeLuise), Beyond Sherwood Forest feels like a lazy film thrown together quickly. Writer Chase Parker, who also penned the other SyFy Channel flicks Boa vs. Python (2004), Path of Destruction (2005), Basilisk: The Serpent King (2006), and Reign of the Gargoyles (2007) has his formula and he sticks to it. He creates characters with no depth, gives them crappy dialogue, and keeps them the same the entire course of the film (no development here, people).
The result is a completely unnecessary attempt to reinvent the Robin Hood story, with minimal action, poor acting, and really bad effects. You can pass on this one.
BEYOND SHERWOOD FOREST (ScFy Channel, 2009; home video May 25, 2010). Directed by Peter DeLuise. Written by Chase Parker. Cast: Robin Dunne, Erica Durance, Julian Sands, Katharine Isabelle, Mark Gibbon, Cainan Wiebe, Richard d Klerk, Bill Dow, Brent Stait, Paul Lazenby.