A long time ago, in a faraway land, legend tells an extraordinary tale of courage and friendship... Get ready for swashbuckling adventure, unforgettable characters, memorable music and lots of laughs in Disney's "Robin Hood", one of the most cherished animated films of all time. Heroic Robin Hood - along with his trusted companion Little John and his devoted band of merry men - conjures up one famously funny and daring deed after another to outfox greedy Prince John and bring happiness to the residents of Sherwood forest.
I've always tried to be clear in my reviews when childhood nostalgia takes control. Such is the case with Disney's 'Robin Hood.' As a young lad, I used to watch this movie over and over. I wore out our VHS tape. We got a new one. I wore that out too. I'm sure my mother got pretty tired of me clamoring for my third 'Robin Hood' viewing in the same day, but she never told me no. My son has watched 'Wreck-it Ralph' around 50 times, so I completely understand child movie obsession from both sides. 'Robin Hood' is simply one of those movies I'll always adore, because I adored it as a kid. It's one of the few movies that reminds me of my childhood and brings back a flood of memories every time I watch it. Sometimes nostalgia is just too strong to ignore.
Most of the time 'Robin Hood' gets lumped somewhere in the middle when discussing classic Disney titles. It doesn't compare to the grandiosity of Disney's run of popular films in the '90s, and it doesn't quite measure up to the stalwart classics of the '50s and '60s. It is, however, a story that ages well, has some memorable songs, and some entertaining action scenes.
It's a simplified tale of 'Robin Hood,' placing anthropomorphized animals in the story. Robin Hood (voiced by Brian Bedford) is a fox. He pals around with his bear buddy Little John (voiced by Phil Harris), in the woods outside of Nottingham. Their sworn enemy is the cowardly lion Prince John (voiced by Peter Ustinov). Like the many tales of Robin Hood that have come to fruition over the years, Disney's sticks to the basics. Robin and Little John steal from the rich and give to the poor. They do so with more cartoony antics, but the principle is the same.
Trying to pinpoint why I loved 'Robin Hood' so much as a child is a difficult task. There isn't any one thing about it that made me love it. Instead there are a variety of aspects I admire about the movie. I remember thinking that it was one of the most exciting Disney movies I'd ever seen. Archery contests, chase scenes, and sword fights in burning castles. It was indeed a harrowing experience, especially for a little tyke who had only seen tamer Disney fare like 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Lady and the Tramp' before watching 'Robin Hood' for the first time.
It was interesting watching my son see 'Robin Hood' for the first time. He's a sucker for all things Pixar, but he sat down and watched most of 'Robin Hood' without moving. He was sucked in by the merry songs and the upbeat action. Yes, he wandered off after a while, but he does that with almost every movie. Though it was somewhat of a testament to Disney's 'Robin Hood.' Forty years after its theatrical debut it can still hold a toddler's attention.
'Robin Hood' will never be thought of as one of the classics. That's one of the reasons that it got a simple anniversary release instead of a Diamond Edition. Still, it will always remain one of my personal favorites even if just for nostalgia's sake.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a 40th Anniversary Edition of 'Robin Hood.' It comes from Disney with a nicely embossed slipcover, a 50GB Blu-ray Disc, a DVD, and a Digital Copy. A Disney Movie Rewards code is also included in the package. The discs come in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. It's a region free release.
Something to remember about 'Robin Hood' and Disney animation, is that this film has always had a much rougher look. The animation has a sketchy feel to it, which is stark in contrast to Disney's later films which are pristinely animated. 'Robin Hood' isn't as rough looking as Don Bluth's signature animation style, but there is certain grittiness to it that people may mistake for a lack of care.
As the film opens you'll notice that the opening credits appear to have needed a bit more work. There's some color fluctuation here and there, color fills become unstable as the characters run across the screen. The entire opening sequence has an overall gauzy appearance.
Once the movie starts, however, all worry subsides. Color fills stabilize – only wavering slightly on occasion. The movie's line art is splendidly captured. At times it might appear "messy" as lines appear and disappear as the animation moves along (these give the illusion of specks or flecks that some might think should've been cleaned up), but that's the nature of the animation itself. The rougher animation gives the movie a life of its own.
Colors are strong and vibrant. Banding is nowhere to be found. As for errant noise, I didn't really notice any that isn't supposed to be there. Disney has done an admirable job getting this ready for HD presentation. Sure, a Diamond Edition may have brought out just a tad more beauty, but for what we have here I'm not complaining.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix isn't the sort of sonic wonder that is provided to the Diamond releases. While satisfying, it does sound a bit hollow at times. With the surround sound aspect of the mix suffering slightly.
Most of the movie's dialogue is focused up front and center. Some cheering and other action is captured in the rear speakers, but it's never really impressive. The best surround sound can be had during the archery tournament and the subsequent chase.
Dialogue is clear. I didn't detect any anomalies such as hissing or static. The track sounded clear, free from any sort of troubles that may befall films of this age. The movie's songs have a great stage to perform. They provide the best all-around audio enjoyment.
'Robin Hood' holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my younger years every time I watch it. It'll never be considered one of Disney's classics, but to me it is. Disney has done a decent job restoring the film for high definition. Disney completists, along with casual fans, should be pleased with the solid video and audio presentations. 'Robin Hood' is recommended to everyone.