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Robin Hood: Gold Collection DVD Review

"Robin Hood" (1973) movie poster - click to buy from MovieGoods.com Robin Hood

Theatrical Release: November 8, 1973 / Running Time: 83 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Voice Cast: Brian Bedford (Robin Hood), Peter Ustinov (Prince John/King Richard), Phil Harris (Little John), Terry-Thomas (Sir Hiss), Monica Evans (Maid Marian), Carole Shelley (Lady Kluck), Andy Devine (Friar Tuck), Roger Miller (Allan-A-Dale), Pat Buttram (Sheriff of Nottingham), George Lindsey (Trigger), Ken Curtis (Nutsy), Billy Whitaker (Skippy)

Songs: "Oo-de-lally", "Not in Nottingham", "Whistle-Stop", "Love", "The Phony King of England"

Click to buy "Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition", now available on Disney DVD.

On November 28, 2006, Disney re-issued Robin Hood in a Most Wanted Edition DVD. This new disc boasts a digitally remastered, enhanced widescreen transfer and new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It also includes a deleted alternate ending, an art gallery in stills and video form, the set-top games "Archery Trivia Challenge" and "Rescue Maid Marian", the Mickey and Minnie short "Ye Olden Days", Disney Song Selection, and cardboard slipcover packaging.
Click here to buy Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition from Amazon.com, click here to read our complete Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition DVD review, or read on for a full critique of the Gold Collection disc.


Review by Jack Seiley

After the tragic death of Walt Disney in 1966, the animation department of his studio began a downward spiral through a 20-year period many consider "the dark ages."
Robin Hood was released closer to the beginning of that age in 1973, and I think its attributes are the definition of why the era has never been highly regarded for Disney productions.

The movie starts off by introducing the tale of the Robin Hood with animals as “what really happened.” While some would say this was a bad idea for the movie in the first place, I think it had a lot of potential – mostly because there are times in the movie where that potential is briefly realized. Several times, I found myself chuckling at the gags, such as when an effort to capture a chicken turns into a spoof on a football game. On the other hand, I would be drawn into the story. When it focuses on draining all the poor townsfolk of their money for the greedy, the feeling of wanting to root for Robin Hood kicks up. During the period right before the frantic climax, the Disney artists set up a sequence, in which Robin tries to steal from the Prince and get the prisoners freed at the same time, oozing with suspense. The songs aren’t half bad either, and characters like Prince John or Toby Turtle can be a treat to watch.

Unfortunately, Robin Hood only feels like its halfway to making a truly good movie. It’s not episodic, but it doesn’t have a coherent plot either. On top of that, it has pacing as slow as molasses and the energy of an 87-year-old. It would help if its content felt fresher, but a lot splats into being unoriginal or bland.
Many of the characters feel one-sided, specifically Little John, who is a complete carbon copy of Baloo from The Jungle Book. Instances where the characters disguise themselves, managing to fool just about everybody, are downright cheesy. The artistry of the animation is lackluster too. Perhaps a prime example of how trite it can get is “The Phony King of England” sequence, in which animation is obviously reused from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Aristocats, and even from earlier in the movie itself.

The end result is wishy-washy. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. There are some segments that shine, but most of it feels pedestrian - a characteristic of practically all the movies from not just the '70s, but in my opinion, the '60s too. I still find them to be entertaining, but not stand-outs in the Disney canon.

Robin Hood made its debut on DVD in July 2000, under the “Gold Collection” banner. The single-disc is held in a standard, white amaray case. Beside it is a one-page insert that records the chapter listing and highlights the few bonus materials.

Buy Robin Hood from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Fullscreen
Dolby Digital Mono (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: July 4, 2000
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99

VIDEO and AUDIO

Robin Hood is exhibited in its original aspect ratio of approximately 1:33.1. Dust or blemishes are barely existent, making this a fine presentation with solid color reproduction and sharpness. However, during one scene in Prince John’s carriage, the hues seemed to be washed out somewhat, and it got slightly blurry. That was the only major imperfection I saw.

The 1.0 Mono track has relatively good range, but the only time I recall specific activity in my subwoofer was during a drum roll in the middle of the film. The sound feels a little too isolated, but it’s crisp and clear nonetheless.

Main Menu

BONUS MATERIALS

An interactive trivia game asks 16, easily answered, multiple-choice questions about the movie. Each time the player gets one right, imitations of characters’ voices from the film congratulates him or her. One thing I found amusement at: one of the choices for an answer was "chippendale." Isn’t that hitting a little close to the mark? (Cue Patrick Swayze’s and Chris Farley’s dance routine).

Read-Along Ye Olden Days Interactive Trivia Game

A Read-Along offers a virtual storybook that tells the same basic story from the film. You can either read solo, or have a narrator read to you (14:19). Next, a Sing-Along Song for the opening credits number, “Oo-De-Lally” (2:02). At last, a colorized version of the 1933 Mickey Mouse medieval-themed short “Ye Olden Days” (8:18), in which Mickey plays a wandering minstrel who rescues Princess Minnie, only to have to duel an early version of Goofy so he can marry her.

Sneak Peeks preview the “Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection” DVDs in general, and the DVD releases of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, The Tigger Movie, and Toy Story 2.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

While an enjoyable film, Robin Hood can either be charming or insipid – with most leaning towards the latter. The DVD release displays the movie satisfactorily, with a small helping of bonus features. Would-be owners of this film should find it to be a suitable presentation.

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Click to preorder "Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition", coming soon to Disney DVD.

On November 28, 2006, Disney re-issued Robin Hood in a Most Wanted Edition DVD. This new disc boasts a digitally remastered, enhanced widescreen transfer and new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It also includes a deleted alternate ending, an art gallery in stills and video form, the set-top games "Archery Trivia Challenge" and "Rescue Maid Marian", the Mickey and Minnie short "Ye Olden Days", Disney Song Selection, and cardboard slipcover packaging.
Click here to buy Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition from Amazon.com or click here to read our complete Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition DVD review.

Related Reviews:
Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) | The Rescuers (1977) | The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
Pete's Dragon (1977) | Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) | The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
The Fox and The Hound (1981) | The World's Greatest Athlete (1973) | The Jungle Book (1967)

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Reviewed March 3, 2004.