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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Wolfgang Reitherman
Cast:
Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley, Andy Devine, Roger Miller, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey
Writing Credits:
Ken Anderson (characters, story conceptions), Larry Clemmons

Tagline:
Meet Robin Hood and his MERRY MENagerie!

Synopsis:
A long time ago, in a faraway land, legend tells an extraordinary tale of courage and friendship ... Get ready for swashbuckling adventure, unforgettable characters, memorable music, and lots of laughs in Disney's Robin Hood, one of the most cherished animated films of all time. Heroic Robin Hood - along with his trusted companion Little John and his devoted band of merry men - conjures up one famously funny and daring deed after another to outfox greedy Prince John and bring happiness to the residents of Sherwood Forest. The "Most Wanted Edition" DVD also features a forest full of merriment with a never-before-seen alternate ending, all-new games, and Disney Song Selection, plus a new digital transfer, 5.1 Surround Sound, and much more!

Box Office:
Budget
$15 million.
Domestic Gross
$32.056 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.75:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 11/28/2006

Bonus:
• Deleted Scene
• Art Gallery
• “Rescue Maid Marian” Game
• Archery Trivia Challenge
• “Ye Olden Days” Classic Mickey Mouse Short
• Disney’s Song Selection
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition (1973)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 28, 2006)

Take a poll of fans of Disney animation, and there's a really strong chance that 1973's Robin Hood will end up getting some of the lowest ratings. There's a good reason for this: Robin Hood is definitely one of the studio’s worst efforts.

Everything about this film screams its mediocrity. At no point do we encounter an actual plot. Instead, the movie connects a conglomeration of mildly related sequences. As I discovered during Alice In Wonderland, this kind of film can work, but the material has to be good enough to stand on its own, which is not the case with Hood. I found virtually all of the mini-sequences to seem fairly bland and uninspired.

Although the Robin Hood legend features some strong personalities, you wouldn't know that from the generic characters we find here. Our main leads, Robin (Brian Bedford) and Maid Marian (Monica Evans) are completely flat and lifeless; nothing about either of them stands out in any way, and I could not have cared less about their ultimate fates.

However, fairly dull protagonists are not unusual for Disney animation. Going all the way back to Snow White, we find more uninteresting leads than we do firecrackers. At least Robin is an active participant in his life, unlike some of the passive personalities we've seen in the past. He's still dull, though, and as is often the case, the usual roster of wacky sidekicks comes along for the ride to make the film more lively.

Few of these characters work. As Little John, we find Phil Harris in his third straight Disney animated release. As Baloo in The Jungle Book, he played a bear version of himself. For The Aristocats, he branched out a little and went for a cat who actually was our leading man. O'Malley retained much of Baloo's swagger and looseness, however, so the differences were greatly exceeded by the similarities. At least O'Malley was a minor stretch, which isn't the case for Little John. Here we again find Harris in big, fat bear form, and the character comes across as an insanely blatant reprise of Baloo. The part isn't as good, however, and Little John adds no spark to the proceeding.

Almost none of the remaining supporting cast makes an impact either. In fact, the only interesting character was Prince John. Peter Ustinov does a nice job with the role, and although it's quite one-dimensional – Prince John never appears as anything but a greedy, malicious, sniveling coward - Ustinov at least adds life to the part and makes him much more entertaining than anything else in the movie.

Perhaps this was just a transference of my enjoyment of the character, but Prince John also seems better drawn than the other roles. This doesn't mean PJ displays terrific animation. It's more of an indictment of the relatively weak quality of the rest of the film. Hood clearly displays some of the sloppiest Disney art on record. As I'll note later, I actually had trouble judging the quality of the DVD transfer because so much of the animation looked so careless. Stray lines flit about the screen, and the general presentation appears crude. It even looks as though some of the animation simply duplicates efforts from other films. The scene in which Maid Marian dances in the forest seems suspiciously similar to a portion of Snow White.

Speaking of Maid Marian, does anyone else fail to understand how she – a fox - can be related to Prince John - a lion? Yeah, I know it's a fantasy, but some internal consistency would be nice. Actually, this connects to the most daring aspect of Robin Hood: it was the first Disney film to feature no human characters. Granted, Bambi came close since we never saw the men, but their affect on the story was immense. (Hey, it's not like Bambi's mother committed suicide.) Obviously, a lot of other Disney offerings focussed on animals, but humans remained part of the mix. Another "all-critter" flick wouldn't appear until 1994's The Lion King.

But that ends the similarities between Hood and the 1994 hit. Robin Hood is such a cheap, lifeless affair that even the credit sequences appear frightfully generic. At the start, we get a quick and tacky introduction to the participants; we see an animated image of the character with his/her name and species beneath it. For example, we might see "Robin Hood - A Fox". The typeface used for these introductions is so bland that you'll initially think you've activated the subtitle function.

Every expense was spared for Robin Hood. I didn't hate this film, as my affection for Disney animation remains strong enough that even their worst efforts still give me some pleasure. However, I found it difficult to resist fast-forwarding through this movie, and that ain't good.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus D+

Robin Hood appears in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. That’s a change from the 2000 DVD, which went with a fullscreen picture.

The quality of the presentation also presented significant improvements. Sharpness worked great. From start to finish, the movie exhibited fine definition and delineation, with virtually no signs of softness. I detected no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent.

Source flaws created sporadic concerns. A few specks, spots and marks cropped up through the film. The flaws tended to come in batches and usually accompanied transitional shots. Note that it occasionally became tough to tell the difference between actual print defects and poor clean-up animation. This was a sloppy project at its best, so some of the messiness related from a lack of care put into its completion. In any case, source issues weren’t a major problem, but they meant occasional distractions.

Colors fared well. The tones consistently seemed lively and distinctive, and they showed the film’s broad palette nicely. Blacks were similarly concise and tight, while shadows demonstrated good delineation. The smattering of source flaws knocked this one down to a “B”, but I felt pretty satisfied with it anyway.

Another change from the 2000 DVD came from its audio. Whereas the original disc featured monaural elements, the new one offered a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Don’t get too excited about that, however, as the soundfield could best be described as broad mono. Music spread generally to the side speakers but failed to demonstrate real stereo imaging. This meant the score and songs didn’t come across as distinctive in the way they used the side speakers.

Nothing about the rest of the soundfield stood out as memorable either. Speech remained bound to the center, though the lines occasionally bled uncomfortably to the sides. Effects seemed pretty heavily focused on the center channel as well. If the track used the surrounds, I didn’t notice it. Essentially this was a mono mix except for the bland spread of music to the front sides.

Audio quality was acceptable and no better. Dialogue sounded clear and intelligible but lacked warmth. Effects were suitably realistic and they displayed no distortion but they also seemed flat and lifeless. The songs and the score came across as acceptably smooth and clean but suffered from the same thin and dull quality that affected the rest of the mix. Though a few percussive elements provided mild punch, low-end stayed very restricted most of the time. This soundtrack seemed reasonably acceptable for its era but I can't say anything more positive about it than that.

How did the picture and sound of this “Most Wanted” edition of Robin Hood compare to the original 2000 DVD? Despite the presence of the 5.1 remix, I thought the audio was almost identical. The soundfield failed to open up the material, and the quality of the material remained the same, so I gave both tracks “C” grades.

On the other hand, the picture of the 2006 DVD offered substantial improvements over its predecessor. In addition to what we’ll assume is the correct aspect ratio, the “Most Wanted” production was cleaner, sharper and displayed more vivid colors. In other words, everything about it looked better, and by quite a lot.

This “Most Wanted” edition of Robin Hood adds a few supplemental features, but don’t expect much. Also found on the original disc, we get a 1933 Mickey Mouse short called "Ye Olden Days". This eight-minute and 14-second cartoon is completely unrelated to the legend of Robin Hood, but it appears because the medieval theme connects the two to a degree. In any case, it's a fun little piece. It's not phenomenal - almost no Disney shorts without Donald Duck achieve greatness, in my opinion - but it's entertaining and cute. Historical footnote: "Ye Olden Days" marks Goofy's final appearance under his original name. With his next cartoon - "Orphan's Benefit" in 1934 - he went Hollywood and changed from "Dippy Dawg", which is how he was known through his first six pictures. And the rest was movie history!

Fans will look forward to the Alternate Ending. This four-minute and 34-second clip uses storyboards and audio to depict a conclusion in which Robin gets wounded during his escape and Little John saves him. Prince John and Sir Hiss follow them as the other try to heal Robin. It’s a darker ending than the one in the final flick and seems a little more interesting.

In the Art Gallery. we can check out drawings via two methods. There’s the normal “Still Gallery” and an automatic “Video Gallery”. Which way you choose, you’ll find 48 images. These span concept designs, character illustrations, behind the scenes photos and publicity materials. It’s a nice little collection of materials.

Disney’s Song Selection allows you to jump straight to any of the movie’s three ditties. These include “Oo-de-lally”, “Love” and “The Phony King of England”. There’s also an option to play the tunes with on-screen lyrics.

Two elements appear under “Games and Activities”. The Archery Trivia Challenge asks questions about the movie. The quicker you answer, the higher you score. It includes only four items and never challenges the contestant.

For the next game, we get Rescue Maid Marian. It requires you to find a mix of items to save the lovely lady. I hate this kind of “hunt and peck” game, and this one’s painfully easy. Add to that no useful reward for completion and “Rescue” is a dud.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Peter Pan, Meet the Robinsons, The Fox and the Hound 2, and AirBuddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with trailers for Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Enchanted Tales, Disney’s My Friends: Tigger and Pooh and Little Einsteins: The Legend of the Golden Pyramid.

As a Disney die-hard, I will keep Robin Hood in my collection. However, only folks like me will want to own this mediocre and bland film. The story is a mess, while the animation, characters, songs, and pretty much everything else remain passable at best and become bland and flat at worst. The DVD provides pretty good picture with adequate audio and some minor supplemental features. Robin Hood isn't terrible, but it's pretty much the worst Disney have to offer. Unless you're like me and you just have to own each and every movie, this is a DVD to skip.

For those collectors who feel compelled to possess this dud, should they upgrade to this “Most Wanted” edition? I’d say yes because it looks so much better than its predecessor. If you’re going to own the film, you might as well have the best version of it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.303 Stars Number of Votes: 33
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main