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Robin Hood - Blu-ray Review 2


Robin Hood

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Gotta say, I have been looking forward to this incarnation of the Sherwood legend for a very long time. A few years ago, a spec script was picked up (for reportedly a seven figure sum) that purported to rewrite folklore, bathe the Sheriff of Nottingham in a more heroic light, and instead make the ever-heroic Robin Hood the villain of the piece. What ended up happening was a protracted development, leaked scripts, failed rewrites, casting announcements and departures, and an ultimate end to the concept as it stood...

But director Ridley Scott and star Russel Crowe stuck with it, decided on the more traditional approach to the oft-told story, and this year we finally see Robin Hood ride again.

With a story retold as much as this one, it befalls everyone who attempts it a great challenge to approach the material in some novel way that makes it seem fresh—no simple task. While Scott and Crowe have indeed abandoned the role reversal idea (in fact, Nottingham barely appears in this film), they have not abandoned their goal: to make it different. What they have done is either a very smart or very stupid approach to the legend that only time, box office, and a sequel will answer.

Allow me to clarify:
Set in the 12th Century, this Robin Hood finds our titular hero as a lowly archer in King Richard’s crusade army. The crusades have been long, costly, and seemingly pointless to all, including their sovereign. Meanwhile, the king of France plots with a duplicitous English lord (Mark Strong) to assassinate Richard, place his less than moral brother, John, on the throne, and weaken England before France’s forthcoming invasion. The spanner in the works is Richard has already been killed in battle and Robin has agreed to assume the identity of a dead Nobleman to aid in uniting the other waring Nobleman of the mother country. Through rather complex and multifaceted politics, Robin raises an army for the new whelp king and a rousing battle commences.

The story, in the simplest terms, is Batman Begins for Robin Hood. Purge all expectation for the usual trappings of this story: robbing from the rich to feed the poor and all that good stuff. This story is a prequel to the legend we know. It takes its time with Robin, gives you glimpses of him becoming the man we know, but at the end of this film, he isn’t quite there yet.

Russell Crowe was born to play this character; he could do it in his sleep. He’s heroic, understated for the most part, and a joy to watch. His Merry Men, on the other hand, may be inhabited by some fine actors, but they’re honestly not given much to work with; they’re more attitudes than characters and in a film that is reaching for just that little but of depth in the legend, it’s a pretty noticeable oversight. Marian, played with humorous aplomb by Cate Blanchett, is given more than Robin’s offsiders (or anyone else, for that matter) to chew on, scene wise, but this constant need of modern filmmakers to imbue Xena: Warrior Princess into every heroine to tell us she’s not a damsel in distress, like the old days, is not only insulting to audiences, it’s insulting to women. Women are indisputably equals to men; powerful, resourceful, and with their own indelible and equally valid methods to solve conflict that are almost always different (and with more finesse than we males can conjure). Give us some credit, please, and stop overcompensating. I would follow Blanchett into battle because she’s an intelligent, classy woman—don’t need some horseshit moment that suggests a 50 kg woman with zero training can slap on weapons, a helmet, and go defeat trained French soldiers.

The landscapes are breathtaking and nearly every scene is (as usual for a Scott picture) meticulously framed and dressed and shot beautifully. Action scenes are not as frequent for a modern blockbuster as one is used to these days, but you do gain some solid grounding of the universe they’re setting up for that sacrifice. Of the action, one can say it has scope, and a few times some emotion behind it, but it’s not Scott’s best.

2010’s Robin Hood can really be summed up in one word: brave. Personally, this reviewer hopes their gamble pays of, as I see where they’re going with this, and another one is definitely welcome, should the same players return. Kevin Costner’s mullet and American accent are forgotten (loved your work, Kev! Truly! I just bought the Blu Ray); long live Robin Hood.


Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 21, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, French SDH, Spanish, Spanish SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD, 2 DVDs); Digital copy (on disc); Digital copy PSP (on disc); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; D-Box

On Blu-ray, Robin Hood is presented in a fantastic 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1 ratio).  There are two versions to choose from: the theatrical cut (140 minutes) or the director’s cut (156 minutes).  Yet, for me, the director’s cut is the only version to watch.  With this cut, Scott fully fleshes out the relationship between Robin and Marion and restores the ‘Runaways’ subplot, effectively clearing up the randomness of some of the scenes in the theatrical cut.  This cut is also more aggressive in violence and tone.  That being said, both cuts of the film are fantastically captured by the glorious transfer; earthy in colors and rich in sound, thanks to a detail-oriented 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix.

Supplements:

Commentaries:

  • Unfortunately and surprisingly, there is not a single commentary.

Featurettes:

  • Director's Notebook: I suppose this feature-length pop-up feature is designed to take the place of a commentary.  It showcases production featurettes, stills, and storyboards.  Informative, but a little too vague to be effective as an educational tool.
  • Rise and Rise Again (63 mins): is a very detailed and informative ‘Making Of’ documentary.  It takes an extensive look at the production of Robin Hood, offering conversations about the elements of its making, with cast and crew interviews – especially a candid Crowe – discussing the movie.  Remarkably honest and thorough, this might be reason enough to keep the Blu-ray in after its viewing.

Deleted Scenes (13 mins): these interesting deleted scenes fill in more of the holes in the story.  They can be viewed with or without a commentary from the film’s editor, Pietro Scalia

Photo Gallery: The Art of Nottingham Gallery: For fans of detail, this is the photo collection for you.  Extensive looks at the set design through photographs and production still.

Trailers: Two Theatrical Trailers and six T.V. Spots, totaling 7 minutes, are also included.

The disc is also BD-Live enhanced, has bookmarking abilities, Pocket Blu enabled, and D-Box enabled.

Disc two is a DVD copy of the film.

Disc three is a digital copy.

{pgomakase}

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