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Robin Hood (2010) - Blu-ray Review


Robin Hood

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The thing about legendry heroes or even caped super heroes is that every now and again, they make a cinematic comeback, just so every generation gets a fair recollection of what was once known as a legend. In essence, we the audience, have been privy to quite a few heroic comebacks, all of which screened a decade passed Y2K. Like everyone else, I too wondered what could be better than Kevin Reynolds’ Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Yet the strange thing is, having seen director Ridley Scott’s new version, I somehow fail to see the point of remaking a remake which was well done almost 20 years ago.

“Don’t fix it if it aint broke” may be the lesson to be learnt here. Even so, there is plenty of debate that Scott’s new offering is not exactly a re-telling of adventures of the skilled archer, as we have been given to believe through cinema based on legend. But then again, every story has a beginning, and this is exactly what Scott has tried to depict. Yes, in cinema lingo, we can call this a prequel or the making of the legend behind Robin Hood. Written by Brian Helgeland, the premise of this film is set in 12th century England, where Sir Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) of Huntington returns from the Crusade having fought alongside a despotic King Richard The Lionheart (Danny Huston) , only to find himself mixed up in politics, treachery and tyranny. I say again, Robin Longstride of Huntington and not Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. Anyway, equipped with his trusty bow and arrows and the loyalty of a few merry men, Longstride unleashes hell (pun unintended) while fighting injustice and corruption, before being forced into exile in the forests of Sherwood. In the process, his chivalry and courage gains the affection of the widowed Lady Marian, and the rest, as they say, is history; a history Scott tries to stay true to.

Initially scripted to have the Sheriff of Nottingham in a heroic role opposite a villainous Robin Hood, with filming scheduled to begin in 2007, a dramatic turn in events delayed production until late 2009. Other factors included the 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike, Ridley Scott moving down from producer to director and his involvement in having the script and title changed from Nottingham to Robin Hood. In the end, and after much anticipated waiting, Scott has managed to have his film open the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 12th.  Will it win any awards? Unlikely. Will it captivate a world wide audience? Well, that depends. If you haven’t seen a Robin Hood movie before, then this will blow you away. If you are expecting Russell Crowe’s title character to blow Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood to smithereens, then like me, you may be disappointed. Perhaps that expectation may be justified from having seen a flawless partnership between Scott and Crowe. Somehow, that magic formula appears to have lost it’s potency over the years since that classic epic we all know as Gladiator. Having seen the outcome of that partnership manifest into the instant success that was Gladiator, I hope to be forgiven for expecting not only the same intensity here, but for also expecting a far greater experience. My problem here, was that I over estimated the results of this film by expecting to be overwhelmed, at the very least.

On the other hand, as the supposed first real action epic of 2010 and regardless of Scott’s collaborated repute with Crowe, there will be more disappointment, if solely considered as an action epic. For those of us with an appetite, there’s almost none of the blood, gore and death we lapped up in Gladiator. But aside from the non-existent carnage, you can expect reasonably good portrayals from Crowe (a couple notches short of his role as General Maximus) and Cate Blanchett in a feisty role as Lady Marion, the widow of Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge). Given the coincidence that both leads are Aussi actors, on-screen chemistry is strangely deficient for some reason. Individually, their performance is equaled by splendid portrayals from Oscar Isaac as the newly appointed King John and Mark Strong as the latter’s double-dealing emissary. As expected from Scott, action is well choreographed and balanced by epically impressive cinematography from the White Cliffs of Dover to the lush English country side. The script on the other hand, fluctuates while mostly holding its ground. Helgeland’s 140 minute story starts off well, curiously enlightening us to who exactly Robin Hood was and what he did, before he came to be known as Robin Hood; an armed thief stealing from the rich to feed the poor. But true to the legend, Robin Hood never misses his target; Scott however, has let this one get away.


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.

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