HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Robin Hood
HTS Overall Score:78
Ah, the good old Disney days where the heroes are actually selfless heroes and the villains are moustache twirling maniacs who have nothing but distain for the common man, giving them a despicable air that everyone loves to hate. Basically a good old fashioned exaggeration that allows us to express our frustrations of injustice in a modern age. I grew up watching “Robin Head” as a small boy and still love the film every bit as much now as I did over 25 years ago. Surprisingly Disney has never inducted this old classic into the Platinum/Diamond line of releases, even though I feel that this romp is just as worth of entrance into the Disney hall of fame as much as “Sleeping Beauty”, “Pinocchio” and the rest. Although, giving the film a brand new restoration, both visually and auditory is about as much of a fanfare as one can ask for in today’s release climate.
We all know the story of Robin Hood. The man who steals from the rich of England to give to the poor. Destined to fight against the vicious Prince John and Sheriff of Nottingham, while Prince John’s older brother, King Richard, is off fighting the crusades. Here we have Robin doing what he does best, robbing Prince John blind and thumbing his nose at the villains as he does so. The problem is that Prince John is REALLY tired of Robin evading him for all this time. So he decides to hold an archery tournament in hopes of luring the famed archer out of hiding and into his trap. As you can guess, with the bait of Maid Marian (Monica Evans) being there, the temptation to show up is just too much. Robin (Brian Bedford) and Little John (Phil Harris) come incognito to win the tournament and steal a kiss from the beloved Maid Marian. While Prince John’s trap works, it only works for a moment, for when captured Robin Hood still has the ability to pull one over on the foolish prince, escaping his clutches AND taking the Maid Marian with him.
Furious at the humiliation that Robin has caused him, Prince John triples his oppression of the citizens of England and even captures the innocent friar Tuck (Andy Devine). Seeing another golden opportunity, Prince John decides to hang the good friar in order to smoke Robin out once and for all. Realizing that if he doesn’t do something an innocent man will die, Robin devises a jailbreak where he can liberate the prisoners of the Prince (along with the Prince’s gold as well). As what happens with mice and men, plans go awry and Robin must fight for his very survival in one final showdown between himself and the nefarious duo of misdeeds.
Disney has always loved having talking animals as it’s frontline for children’s animated entertainment and here they have outdone themselves. The “casting” for such characters is near flawless. Prince John is a weak, mane less lion, the Sheriff a wily and salivating wolf, the advisor a hissing, simpering snake, Robin as a crafty fox, the list goes on. The sheer amount of tongue in cheek and allegorical heroes and villains is absolutely brilliant even in this day and age. The voice actors are drawn from other classic Disney films and even the character’s themselves are taken from other Disney films (voice and artwork for Little John is Baloo from “The Jungle Book”, The Alligator announcer is the same from “Peter Pan” etc). While some may call it being lazy and recycling older animation I believe it’s more of a hodgepodge tribute to the other characters of old.
The film isn’t without its flaws though. Some of the voice acting is a bit shaky and the acts are a bit unstable at times. The first act is just about flawless, but the second act dips too far into filler territory for my tastes and the final act feels a tad truncated. The story is still quite absurdly fun, and evokes the same cheery grin that I had on my face as a child, watching Disney movies as a weekend family bonding experience. Disney has come far, fallen far, and recovered much over its decades of entertainment, and these classics of old are still some of the greatest animated adventures for people of all ages and all sensibilities.
Rated G for General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12433[/img]The 1.67:1 AVC encode for “Robin Hood” is a very solid transfer indeed. It isn’t as pristine as some of the restorations, such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” or “Sleeping Beauty”, but for the most part it is quite clean and vibrant. Colors are nice and bright with a nice cool tone to them. The blues and purples are especially striking. Contrast is very well done and there is only a small amount of color fluctuations going on (albeit that appears to be source related since it’s also on my older DVD copy as well upon closer inspection). Detail is great and lines are smooth and jaggies free, with only minor DNR. Disney is known to apply DNR to its restorations and older films in order to smooth out the film grain, but this is one of the lesser uses of that particular sin. Nowhere near as bad as “Cinderella” or “Oliver and Company”. Black levels are deep and inky as one could hope for without any black crush whatsoever. There’s a few scenes of color banding and some minor aliasing, but nothing that would distract the viewer. Overall a very satisfactory restoration that shows the beauty of the fantastic watercolor artwork that is lost in this day and age of digital drawing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12434[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is another solid addition to the Disney lineup and is certainly invigorating for those of us who remember hearing it as children. While it IS a 5.1 track the film doesn’t utilize the rest of the channels as well as the front 2 are utilized. The track basically stays very similar to the original Mono soundtrack of old with just some slight nuances to flesh it out into a full 5.1 track. As a result the film is extraordinarily front heavy with only mild usage of the LFE and surround channels. While the surrounds are used sparingly they are used very subtlety and cleanly as well, filling the back tracks with soft ambient noises and the LFE channel with a few times to come out and play, mostly in the ending battle scene and the archery contest.
• Deleted Storyline "Love Letters"
• Alternate Ending
• Disney Song Selection
• "Robin Hood" Art Gallery
• "Robin Hood" Storybook
• Disney Sing-Along
• Oo-De-Lally Sing-Along
• Bonus Short "Ye Olden Days"
“Robin Hood” will always be a part of my nostalgic past, and if I ever have children, their future. A wildly entertaining romp down innocent lane, it’s reminiscent of a time where you could pop a Disney film in the player and not worry for a second what your children was watching, a time of fun and adventure with a hint of adult seasoning thrown in for good measure. “Robin Hood” has aged a bit in some ways, but still stays fun and true to the spirit of Walt Disney and I for one am heartily glad that it’s there, even if I wish that Disney would give this title just a little more love. The video and audio scores are quite satisfactory for a non platinum or diamond edition and the extras are more than enough to satisfy everyone but the MOST earnest of special features enthusiasts. A hearty thumbs up from myself.
Starring: Roger Miller, Peter Ustinov, Terry Thomas, Phill Harris
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson
Aspect Ratio: 1.67:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1, French DTS-HR 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 84 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 6th, 2013
Buy Robin Hood Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
More about Mike