The Film (4/5)
It has been 20 years since I last sat down with a clamshell VHS copy to view Disney's Robin Hood. However, I remember the film fondly as being one of my favorite Disney Animated films, and a film like the other Disney fantasy favorite the Sword in the Stone, it also captured my imagination. Now with a Blu-ray release handy, and a pair of kids of my own, I was ready to throw myself back into the film to see where it stands in Disney Animation's oeuvre.
Nowadays it seems like Disney has a film out every year, but in the 70's there were only 4 Disney Feature films released to theaters. Robin Hood was released in between The 1970 film the Aristocats, and 1977's the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It is known for being one of the final films that Walt Disney had a hand in molding before his 1966 death. The film is known in animation circles for it's use of recycled animation from prior Disney features such as the Jungle Book, Aristocats, and even Disney's very first feature film Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
Regardless of the sources used for some of the animation elements Disney's Robin Hood is quite a success in telling a simple, yet effective version of the Robin Hood tale. For those who are unaware Robin Hood tells the tale of the titular Robin, an outlaw who lives in Sherwood Forest with his group of Merry Men. They live in the time of King Richard, who has been hypnotized and sent away to fight in the crusades. This leaves an opening for his evil and greedy brother Prince John to take over the Throne in his absence. Prince John along with the Sheriff of Nottingham rule England with an iron fist, and tax the people into poverty. To help combat this Robin and his Merry Men simply rob from the very rich, and give to the poor, all the while battling against the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Prince John.
As a kid I was obsessed with medieval stories, and the Disney-fied versions presented in Robin Hood and the Sword and the Stone (which also saw a Blu-ray release this week) were frequently plays, watching them now it is easy to see why. The animation has a simple, but effective and beautiful quality to it. Yes, it looks slightly dated to the 70's, but regardless the animation still looks wonderful and fluid, and holds up quite nicely. The vocal performances are quite fitting to the roles, many of which are familiar from other Disney animation films from the period. The film has a great sense of fun and adventure to it, definitely exciting enough from a child's perspective, but never taking too dark and allowing the material room to come into it's own and allow for a good little bit of humor to trickle in.
Robin Hood will never be considered one of Disney's "Platinum Collection" efforts, but for a certain audience it could be considered a fun, well animated good time at the movies.
Disney has presented Robin Hood in a very pleasing 1:67:1 1080p transfer. The transfer looks very solid for the most part. The colors are bright, but maintain a natural look maintaining the films intended presentation, detail is quite nice as well. Their appears to have been some degraining at play here, but overall a nice pleasing transfer for the film.
Disney has presented Robin Hood with a very solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (they have similar tracks in other languages as well). The track is very pleasing to the ear. The films dialogue comes through nice and clear, as the score and sound effects. I did not detect any instance of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Disney has put together a simple package together for their DVD of Robin Hood. There is a 5 minute alternate ending to the film, and also an 8 minute deleted plot line recreated here in storyboards. We get sing a long song selections for each song in the film, and and an art gallery as well as a storybook version of the tale to play for children. There are a couple of additional sing along videos, and a bonus Mickey short called Ye Olden Days.
A fun and thoroughly entertaining Disney adaptation of Robin Hood. The Disney Blu-ray looks quite good in the A/V department. The extras are a bit of a mixed bag, but are interesting as well. Disney's Robin Hood certainly comes RECOMMENDED.