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Television Review

'Princess of Thieves' Tries to Fill Robin Hood's Shoes

March 10, 2001|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John are at it again: squeezing the poor, plotting to assassinate Richard's buff heir Phillip and torturing Robin Hood in the dungeon. Can Robin Hood's feisty daughter Gwyn fill her father's shoes, succor the poor, split a bull's-eye arrow to win an archery tournament and rally a rebel force?

Indeed she can, and pout prettily, too, and bare her perfect teeth a lot and stride around declaiming: "As God is my witness, I will not let my father die in prison." "Your days of tyranny are at an end." "One man's desire should not be the cause of another man's pain."

In "The Wonderful World of Disney's" cinematic, silly bit of 12th century fantasy "Princess of Thieves," Robin Hood's dainty spitfire (Keira Knightley) also never misses an opportunity to educate the fellas that she's an independent, "Long live King Richard," happening kind of gal, real Merry Men material.

Nevermind that she's rather prone to getting in trouble and having to be rescued by the guys.

Written by Robin Lerner and Sally Robinson and directed by Peter Hewitt, this lavish production, filmed on location in Romania, looks great. And Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff and Del Synnott as a hapless Gwyn admirer offer a hint of dimension. But Jonathan Hyde's over-the-top, snarling, sneering Prince John and Knightley's painfully posturing Gwyn aren't even on the same page, and Robin Hood (Stuart Wilson) certainly doesn't have much to be merry about.

The hero of lore is just a dunderheaded dad here, causing his daughter teary, jaw-clenching anguish because he won't acknowledge her as a swashbuckling, crusading, chip off the old block.

*

* "Princess of Thieves" can be seen Sunday night at 7 on ABC. The network has rated it TV-PG-V (may be unsuitable for young children, with a special advisory for violence).

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