Posts Tagged ‘Russell Crowe’

Misty Mountains

The Nice Guys

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Director: Shane Black

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Beau Knapp

Russell Crowe reunites with his L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Basinger along with Ryan Gosling in the Buddy action film The Nice Guys set in Los Angeles in 1977, amidst a sleazy world of fading porn stars, smog and gas restrictions.

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Actually, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black sums up The Nice Guys in the opening sequence of the film, with a young boy stealing a porn magazine from under his parents bed, only to narrowly escape a sports car driving through the house whereby he discovers the curvaceous body of the porn star Misty Mountains, bloodied and trapped in a wrecked car asking “How do you like my car?”

Sex and driving are equated multiple times in this seventies L. A. crime caper romp.

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Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Drive) teams up with Oscar winner Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) for a seventies buddy movie in the vein of Starsky and Hutch although slightly more X-rated and definitely more violent. If the plot appears slightly convoluted that’s because it’s meant to be and possibly points to one of the structural weaknesses of the film.

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But the on-screen bromance between Gosling and Crowe is perfect and central to what makes The Nice Guys such a humourous and quirky film. That and Gosling’s character, Holland March, a sleazy hard drinking and hapless private eye who is trying to keep his life together while raising a teenage daughter Holly superbly played by Angourie Rice. The disorganized March’s relationship with his daughter is what makes this film work as it is the central motivating factor forcing him to get his act together, acting as the emotional core of an otherwise macho buddy film.

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The action sequences are wild and spectacular including a bizarre sequence at a studio 54 inspired party in a Bellair mansion as well as the dazzling finale at the Bonaventura Hotel in downtown Los Angeles at the 1978 California car show which goes haywire when JohnnyBoy a Detroit assassin wonderfully played against type by Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart, Magic Mike) attempts to retrieve an important porn film which implicates highranking officials in the American auto industry as well as a ruthless and cold California Chief Justice Judith Kuttner played by Oscar winner Kim Basinger.

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Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is not a perfect film, but rather a homage to the late 1970’s California, a society obsessed with fame, cars and fading porn stars as well as a hedonistic desire to escape the worst of the post-Nixon Watergate scandal.

Highly recommended viewing if audiences enjoy a quirky seventies tale with off the wall action, lots of retro style and peppered with witty dialogue which will keep them guessing. It’s also a chance to see two brilliant Hollywood actors take a turn at physical comedy especially Gosling who is hilarious in the smoking on the toilet with a gun in his hand bathroom scene.

Audiences should also look out for Val Kilmer’s son Jack Kilmer as the impressionable projectionist Chet who unwillingly gets caught up in the whole investigation initiated by The Nice Guys while searching for the mysterious girl in the yellow dress named Amelia.

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55th BAFTA AWARDS

THE  55TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on the 24th February 2002 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

Best Director: Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

A Beautiful Mind

Best Actor: Russell Crowe – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Actress: Judi Dench – Iris

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Moulin Rouge

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best British Film: Gosforth Park

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Best Original Screenplay: Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Shrek

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Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Best Foreign Language Film: Love’s a Bitch (Amores perros)  directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Mexico)

 

59th Golden Globe Awards

The 59th Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 20th January 2002 organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

A Beautiful Mind

Best Film Drama: A Beautiful Mind

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Moulin Rouge

Best Actor Drama: Russell Crowe – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Actress Drama: Sissy Spacek – In the Bedroom

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Nicole Kidman – Moulin Rouge

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Best Supporting Actor: Jim Broadbent – Iris

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly – A Beautiful Mind

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Best Director: Robert Altman – Gosforth Park

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Best Foreign Language Film: No Man’s Land (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/59th_Golden_Globe_Awards

 

 

The Creator’s Wrath

Noah

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte

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Oscar winners Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Jennifer Connelly team up again after their successful onscreen pairing in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, in Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical tale Noah, which has less to do with the bible story and more to do with humanity propensity for destroying the planet.

This visually packed tale of Noah, the ark and the great flood which ensues is inventive, patriarchal and slightly disappointing considering Aronofsky’s reputation for turning out shocking, if not provocative films like Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and his most successful film yet Black Swan, which earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar in 2011.

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Russell Crowe looks increasingly perplexed throughout the film of Noah, almost if he knew this cinematic tale might turn out controversially. The script is stilted and not thrashed out properly and even though the film is in 3D, many of the characters are one dimensional. Which is a pity considering that Aronofsky smaller films do focus on flawed characters trying to grapple with their own success or failure.

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British actor Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain and Logan Lerman as Noah’s son Ham stand out in the acting stakes in this version of Noah, while Crowe, Connelly and even Emma Watson come across as pathetic individuals caught up in an event greater than their own destinies, even though their destinies are tied in with the flood which devastated a ravaged earth, thanks to the descendants of Cain, who have wrecked havoc on the planet’s natural resource.

The whole dynamic of the creation narrative rests on  conflict. Adam and Eve enter the Garden of Eden and are confronted by temptation in the form of a serpent. Their children Cain and Abel battle jealousy and envy with Cain killing Abel, leaving a third brother Seth, of which Noah is descended to recover the familial equilibrium. Then the Creators Wrath returns and after a prophesy from Noah’s Grandfather, a wizened Anthony Hopkins that he should build an ark to survive the impending flood, Noah sets his three sons on a mission to complete a gigantic arc to save themselves and a handful of creatures so that a new population can inhabit a cleansed earth. The irony is that Director Aronofsky should not convince big budget Hollywood to give him free reign on an essentially biblical story.

Purists would not be pleased at the cinematic result which is Noah, not to mention that the narrative does not withstand the special effects and somewhere in between the flood, the entire plot is lost. Noah is an overlong allegorical and patriarchal tale with a hint of biblical connotation but is no cinematic masterpiece. Director Aronofsky should return to making small budget shocking films like the psycho sexual ballet thriller, Black Swan. Even Oscar nominated cinematography Matthew Libatique’s trademark sheen is lost on the 3D version of Noah.

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If Noah had been less about visual effects and more about a conceivable plot, then the film would have been vaguely interesting. Even Emma Watson’s (The Bling Ring) turn as Ila, Noah’s eldest son’s girlfriend and mother-to-be is not nearly as captivating. Where is all the sex, debauchery and shock value normally associated with Aronofsky films?  Noah is fascinating, but not fantastic cinema and would be better if left in 2D with a more fleshed out, stimulating narrative. Noah also stars Douglas Booth and unrecognizable Nick Nolte.

The Genesis Chamber

Man of Steel

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Director Zack Snyder’s ambitious retelling of the origins of Superman in Man of Steel is visually dazzling and grittier than the cheesier Superman movies of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. With Christopher Nolan as the producer and co-writer of Man of Steel, Snyder’s vision of Superman is darker, edgier and more realistic with the occasional humorous nod, but ultimately its firmly rooted in Sci-Fi with Krypton taking a centre stage in the spectacular production design of the opening sequences which shows influences of Snyder’s previous darkly toned blockbusters, 300 and Watchmen.

With newcomer Henry Cavill in the titular role fresh from his role on the TV series The Tudors and relatively unknown outside of the UK, he does a fairly good job of becoming one of America’s iconic figures. In Man of Steel, the comic and sci-fi iconography is rife, with Snyder paying homage to a range of influential Sci-Fi films from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to War of the Worlds, while firmly rooting the narrative in the celestial journey that Kal-El takes from Krypton to Kansas to Superman saving America. There is even a scene of the conflicted Superman in a Kansas church, complete with religious imagery mulling over whether to save his adopted planet Earth from destruction or side with his extraterrestrial origins that of his Kryptonian heritage represented by the ruthless General Zod, expertly played by Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Premium Rush) who after a period of isolation tracks Superman to Earth and soon brings a wake of devastation from Smallville to Metropolis.

The trick which makes Man of Steel so compelling is that along with the dazzling visual effects, the casting was spot on surrounding newcomer young British actor Henry Cavill with a galaxy of veteran Hollywood stars from Russell Crowe as his birth father Jor-El to Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. Then there is the brilliant Amy Adams (Doubt, Julie and Julia) cast as the adventure seeking tough investigative journalist Lois Lane, who plays the part in stark contrast to the goofy, slightly dizzy take on the role by Margot Kidder in the original Superman movies.

From Krypton to Kansas…

The narrative is deeply rooted in origins mythology and told through a series of expertly crafted flashbacks about how Kal-El was naturally conceived on Krypton by his birth parents without the help of the sinister looking Genesis Chamber on the doomed planet Krypton and shunted off to earth as the last surviving hope for his celestial race. Kal-El, better known in Kansas as Clark Kent soon discovers his extraordinary powers as a growing boy and transforms into the mature, measured and slightly emotionally stunted Man of Steel, complete with X-Ray vision and high-speed atmospheric flight capabilities. The narrative arc closes when Lois Lane discovers Superman’s origins and naturally as most Superheroes do, he must don the fetching red cape and suitable attire, complete with underpants in the right place saving Earth from the Warrior General Zod, whilst balancing his newfound status as an alien with that of being a saviour of mankind.

Man of Steel is a superb cinematic retelling of the original comic book hero, worth watching for the fantastic opening and closing sequences, with Snyder desperate to cram all aspects of the Superman mythology into this slightly long and explosive action-heavy blockbuster. The only criticism is that the penultimate sequence of the film could have been effectively edited for effect, as the action outweighs the narrative and character development and often resembles a CGI-laden video game.

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Snyder’s Superman version in Man of Steel is destined to become a cinematic blockbuster and firmly establish him as a skilled action film director. Whilst not as thrilling or tightly written as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Nolan’s influences are apparent in Snyder’s darker more stylized vision of Superman as another conflicted superhero having to choose between his own dying civilization and becoming the new found saviour of Earth. Recommended viewing for Sci-Fi and Comic book fans, Man of Steel is sure not to disappoint Zack Snyder followers who have eagerly traced his quirky directorial growth from 300 to Watchmen to Suckerpunch and beyond…

73rd Academy Awards

73rd Academy Awards

25th March 2001

Oscar Winners at the 73rd Academy Awards

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Best Film: Gladiator

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Best Director: Steven SoderberghTraffic

Best Actor: Russell Crowe – Gladiator

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Best Actress: Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio del Toro – Traffic

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Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden – Pollock

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Best Original Screenplay: Cameron Crowe – Almost Famous

Best Adapted Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan – Traffic

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Best Foreign Language Film: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon directed by Ang Lee (Taiwan)

Best Documentary Feature: Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport  directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer

Best Original Score: Tan Dun – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Best Cinematography: Peter Pau – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Best Costume Design: Janty Yates – Gladiator

Best Film Editing: Stephen Mirrione – Traffic

Best Visual Effects: Gladiator

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/73rd_Academy_Awards

 

Sumptuous Misery

Les Miserables

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Watching Tom Hooper’s sumptuous film version of Les Miserables, I felt like I was back in a Theatre in London’s West End witnessing the spectacular musical which has been a hit in both the West End and Broadway for decades. Director Hooper’s insistence that all the actors sing every song and not do any lip-syncing pays off making Les Miserables a magnificent emotionally charged film never straying far from the theatrical version. See Les Miserables on the biggest cinema screen available and with all the brilliant Dolby surround sound and viewers will experience the true beauty of such  ambitious musical theatricality.

From the Oscar-winning director of the King’s Speech, this film version of Les Miserables was in brilliant hands and he has chosen a superb cast to star in the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s early 19th century novel about the perils and poverty brought on in France as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.  Not since Rob Marshall’s stunning cinematic version of Chicago, have I enjoyed a film version of a West End musical so much.

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Hugh Jackman who is no stranger to Broadway is perfectly cast as the embittered reformed thief Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway is superb as the tragic Fantine, a seamstress who turns to prostitution to survive and protect her daughter Cosette from impoverishment. Both Hathaway and  Jackman have deservedly won 2013 Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a musical or comedy. Hooper shoots all the great songs of Les Miserables close up capturing the raw emotion of the actors turned singers as they perform I Dreamed a Dream, Master of the House and Suddenly.

Fantine

Fantine

Les Miserables is big on emotion, epic in scale especially the production design and the faithful early 19th century costumes and director Hooper has skilfully managed to create the perfect blend of romance, sorrow, heroism and injustice, painting a distinctly French cinematic canvas enough to make Victor Hugo proud. Rising British star Eddie Redmayne last seen opposite Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn and Amanda Seyfried are gorgeous as the young lovers:  the revolutionary Marius and the demure yet mature Cosette.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen provide some comic relief amidst all this sumptuous misery as the scheming tavern owners out to deceive Valjean. Oscar Winner Russell Crowe plays Javert the treacherous constable out to finally catch up with the ever illusive Valjean.

Javert

Javert

With a brilliant score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and expert direction by Tom Hooper, Les Miserables is a must see for any musical lover and is breathtaking in its scope, brutality and visual imagery especially the rousing depiction of the 1832 Paris uprisings. All the cast are perfect and it’s no wonder that the film has received such critical acclaim so far.

For those that are unsure of seeing a two and a half hour film of Les Miserables, I never looked at my watch once, being completely enthralled in this gorgeous, emotional and spectacular cinematic masterpiece, successfully bringing the theatricality of a West End musical to the Big Screen. Highly Recommended!

Time is of the Essence

The Next Three Days

 

Paul Haggis’s directorial debut The Next Three Days makes for an absorbing thriller about a family torn apart by the conviction and imprisonment of the mother for murdering her boss. Haggis uses his trademark non-linear structure first seen in his Oscar winning film Crash, by setting up a scene of John Brennan played with surprising coolness by Russell Crowe driving through the darkened Pittsburgh streets with a dying man in his backseat.

Elizabeth Banks plays Lara Brennan incarcerated in the County Jail in Pittsburgh without hope of an appeal for her life sentence.

Not having much faith in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, Brennan plans a daring jailbreak for his wife and an eventual escape of them and their young son from America.

In a brief scene, Liam Neeson makes a cameo guiding Brennan in the time constraints involved in breaking his wife out of a city jail. Pittsburgh is the perfect setting for this thriller with the city’s central business district consisting of a  triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Pittsburgh ‘s urban county jail where Lara Brennen is situated, makes for a more difficult escape. Neeson sketches out that in 15 minutes the inner city will be cordoned off and in 30 minutes all the major airports, and transport nodes will be shut down as the authorities search for the Brennan’s who become fugitives on the run.

The Next 3 Days is divided up into 3 sections and the pace of the film increases as the daring escape plan unfolds and takes on fruition. Whilst Banks, seen in Zach and Miri Make a Porno is essentially a comic actress does a great turn as a convicted mother, but a more accomplished actress like Naomi Watts or Nicole Kidman would have added more severity to the psychological trauma of a mother, being incarcerated and kept away from her husband and son. Haggis makes John Brennan the pivotal character, a quiet and self-absorbed Literature professor beautifully played by Russell Crowe with the story focusing more on the escape plan, than the lingering question of Lara Brennan’s innocence only to be answered in the final scenes of the film. Haggis deftly opens up a universe of questionable morality and raises the issue of how far a person would go to free their loved one in a justice system which automatically assumes guilt over innocence.

In this morality, The Next Three Days is similar to the 1996 film, Before and After directed by Barbet Shroeder, who followed on from his success of the Oscar winning film Reversal of Fortune, featuring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons.

Claus von Bulow, I presume?

All films deal with families who are torn apart by a mother, son or father who has been accused of murder and the consequent questions of guilt and innocence which naturally surround such crimes. Crime and Punishment remain an enviable topic for any filmmaker especially in the context of the modern nuclear family. Paul Haggis does not leave any loose ends plot wise making his commercial directorial debut a thrill to watch.

Muscular Remake of Robin Longstride….

Robin Hood

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Ridley Scott’s Epic and muscular retelling of Robin Hood is better than expected. With Scott’s usual visual panache, 12th century England gets a grand and lush veneer along with a muscular and slightly jocular Robin Hood, played by Russell Crowe who teams up with an equally feisty Lady Marion, played with all the haughtiness of a woman trapped by her grand situation by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.

The action is swift, gritty and visually compelling without dwelling on the gore but hinting at the brutality of the times. Robin Hood, which surprisingly opened the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and is devoutly English in its version of the pending invasion by King Philip of the brittle and precarious English realm of King John in 1199.

Supported by a wonderful cast including Mark Strong as yet another evil villian in the role of the allegiance shifting Godfrey, Eileen Atkins as the delicate but influential Eleanor of Aquitaine played by Eileen Atkins and Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley, Robin Hood is Ridley Scott back in the style of Gladiator with similar themes of an empire on the precipice of change, a slightly demented ruler and an anti-hero who leads the battle and starts a myth. Robin Hood also known as Robin Longstride is a brawny and hairy Russell Crowe who is forced to delve into the idealism of his youth where his father prophesied the Magna Carta and the saying Lambs become Lions….

Scott’s trademark elements of water and shadow are skilfully used to enhance a much larger and bolder canvas of a Kingdom ravaged by a ten year crusade to the Holy Land, rebellious noblemen and coffers which are far from full. The ever-menacing relationship with France is tested by the betrayals and ambitions of Godfrey and King Philip along with his niece Queen Isabella who is married to King John, younger brother to King Richard the Lionheart, a brief but great turn by Danny Huston brother of Angelica Huston.

Crowe and Blanchett make a fine team, both experienced actors with the right amount of gravity to pull off these mythic roles with depth and sensitivity without resorting to cliche. Had these roles been cast to lesser known stars the force of the film would have been lost. Robin Hood is an epic Historical tale which hints at the popular story of Robin Hood and his merry men, Friar Tuck and his beekeeping and the Sheriff of Nottingham, gorgeously underplayed by Matthew Macfadyen of Pride and Prejudice fame. William Hurt also makes an appearance as William Marshall to add weight to the already Oscar-laden cast. This film version is certainly not flimsy, but muscular, brawny, dark and partly comical without dwelling too much on the political intrigue, the costumes or the bloodletting of medieval England.

Robin Hood‘s arrow has the perfect shot and Ridley Scott’s film is superb, engaging and visually rewarding more as an historical epic than a special-effects laden blockbuster and will surely be noticed when awards season comes round next year. What would one expect from such an experienced film maker who has brought audiences such classics as Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and the Oscar Winning Gladiator, which made Russell Crowe an international star.

With a sword he conquored Rome…

As for the French, Robin Hood did open at Festival du Cannes, so perhaps all that cross-channel animosity has slightly cooled! Watch Robin Longstride and his rise to iconic anti-hero and savior of the outcasts and the free…

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