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Robin Hood (1973) - Blu-ray Review

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Robin Hoob (1973)

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3 stars

Kevin Costner’s highly successful version of the English tale of Robin Hood took much flak for his appalling attempt at a British accent (in those few lines he did actually attempt it). But decades before, Disney released its own version of the hero of Sherwood Forest, replete with many, many, many Americanisms.

While not one of Disney’s revered classics—indicative of the shite amount of extras provided for this ‘40th Anniversary blu ray’—this one was an instant hit in 1973 with the children of the time (and a personal favourite of this reviewer soon thereafter).

Prince John, the younger, immoral brother of the absent King Richard, is taxing the people of Nottingham into starvation. A rogue named Robin Hood, and his best friend Little John, are robbing the rich to feed the poor. Prince John lures Robin to a tournament with Maid Marian as bait and this begins a to-and-fro with the outlaw fraught with much danger and excitement.

It’s a rather hodgepodge script at the end of the day, that doesn’t know quite what it wants to be. Slapstick (which, to this reviewer gets far too hard a beating critically) is the order of the day for humour, so it could be argued that it’s targeting the youngsters only. While Robin and Marian definitely have clear arcs within the story, the film kind of meanders from one supporting character to another, causing the film the loose its coherence, really. It’s not like there’s no clear beginning and end, but getting there is rather like sitting through a series of sketches and scenes that don’t build upon each other very effectively.

There are some truly wonderful characters in the film, solely thanks to a stellar cast of actors. In particular, Peter Ustinov’s turn as Prince John is one of the funniest characterizations of a villain in Disney’s history. There are many highlights, and I believe it’s the cast that lift this project above its script’s many shortcomings.

The animation is from the early seventies, when Disney were very much into cost cutting, so it’s not as grandiose or breathtaking as the era before it or the modern era we enjoy now. This is not to say the water coloured backgrounds and storybook scratchy line work of the characters don’t have their charm, but we see recycled animation from previous films creeping into this one—a familiar dance sequence from The Jungle Book being one of the most blatant.

But kids could give a crap about story structure or animation techniques. They wanna laugh and have fun. Robin Hood offers that in spades; its stellar voice casting, entertaining music, and easy manner are winner in this department. For adults, it’s not gonna grab as easily, but it’s not hard to sit through at all. Nostalgia still has me rating this as a favourite from the Disney vault despite seeing flaws I didn’t as a child.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Robin Hoob (1973)MPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Runtime:
83 mins
Director
: Wolfgang Reitherman
Writer: Larry Clemmons
Cast: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Roger Miller
Genre: Animated | Family | Adventure
Tagline:
Join the MERRIEST MENagerie in the world's best-loved legend.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Marian, my darling, I love you more than life itself."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Distribution Company
Official Site:
Release Date: November 8, 1973
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 6, 2013

Synopsis: The story of the legendary outlaw is portrayed with the characters as humanoid animals.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Robin Hood (1973)

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

40th Anniversary Edition

Available on Blu-ray - August 6, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.75:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD HR 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (as download); DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

The film has never looked better. The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p picture shows the usual Disney signs of some de-noising, but there is still a faint element of grain throughout the picture—particularly in dark or night shots. Any blemishes or spots are remote and likely from the source and left for fidelity to the original vision. Colours pop, even though the palette of this film is rather muted compared to some Disney entries. The sound is front heavy, like most of the films of this era, but this is not to impugn the new lossless 5.1 DTS-HD mix. There are the occasional signs of background hiss, but it’s seldom and will go unnoticed by most. The rear speakers won’t work up a sweat, but this is, just as the picture, the best presentation on home video since its inception. Special features are ported over from a prior DVD release and to be honest, dull and not worthy of the Anniversary blurb on the cover. It’s a half a point up from a bare bones release.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • 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"

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