Robin Hood: 40th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Disney
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th October 2013).
The Film

"Robin Hood" has the pleasure of being the 21st animated feature film from Disney and upon its release had a few challenges to overcome. The film was the first to be released since Walt Disney's death and skeptics doubted the film would do well, combined with the mixed reviews and "Robin Hood" was already facing an uphill battle out of the gates. The film as it turns out did very well at the box office in 1973, the film was later re-released into theaters in 1982 adding to its coffers.

The film not only faced some battles upon release it also faced internal handicaps. The film was produced during a financial slump at Disney and as a result the film's budget was significantly lower than previous animated features. This resulted in some creative decisions that saw animators borrow sequences from other Disney films, primarily in the song and dance portions of the film, other borrowed elements also include sound effects and other tricks used to minimize the cost of the film.

"Robin Hood" follows the classic legend but makes it appropriate for Disney audiences as they added their own voice to the legend by making the character animals incorporating songs and toning down some of the more dramatic elements of the story. As many are aware with the "Robin Hood" legend I doubt there's any point in going into the synopsis of the film.
The resulting film is a light-hearted take on the tale, with some ingenious sequences mixed with fun and interesting characters, which is a fine Disney tradition carried on in this film. All the characters are unique and memorable, which makes this film so much fun to watch. Each voice performer brought a certain charm and sense of freedom to the characters, most especially that of Robin Hood (Brian Bedford) himself and his fellow side-kick Little John (Phil Harris). Additionally we have the wicked Peter Ustinvo as the voice of the dastardly Prince John in what is a near perfect fit and supporting him in greed fashion is veteran voice actor Pat Buttram as the Sheriff of Nottingham. The film's voice talent ranges from classically trained British performers to character actors that lent Southern American voices to certain characters, an unusual mix for a story set in medieval England but for some reason it works and is occasionally funny.

"Robin Hood" has some humorous action and adventure rolled up in this love story between our main character and Maid Marian (Monica Evans), while some kids may find the animation primitive, it's the story, sense of adventure and overall fun that should keep them glued to the screen, additionally for adults that grew up watching this film it loses none of it's appeal upon repeated viewing.

Video

Presented in a ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen in high definition 1080p 24/fps and mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression. This film was previously released in two other rations, a 1.33:1 release and a 1.75:1 edition, which was the previous DVD edition. This ratio lands somewhere in-between, the original projection theatrical ratio was 1.75:1, why Disney chose not to release it in this format is beyond me, the 1.66:1 frame allows for a little more information in the sides but the top and bottom look a little cramped here. The overall image however, is very nice, despite the opening credits which look awful, it's a little on the soft side, the opitcals just don't hold up well. Thankfully the transfer doesn't remain that way, it gets better and once we're into the film we get a rather vibrant and rich looking image. It's important to remember that the animation style was quite "sketchy" so you're not going to get the clean lines most viewers will be used to, but this is all part of the aesthetic of this film. I was also impressed with the overall cleanliness of the film, scratches and dirt are rarely seen. Disney tends to treat their films with some care and attention and "Robin Hood" is no exception (despite the minor disparity in the ratio).

Audio

Five audio track options are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as French DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1 surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English DTS-HD audio. Up-mixed to 5.1 from the original elements, this audio track is adequate, offering decent dialogue reproduction and the music uses the surrounds quite well. The majority of the track is front heavy, but for a 40 year old film we can't expect too much in terms of depth and complexity. Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has released this film with a few extras that includes an alternate ending, a series of sing-a-long songs, plus a couple of interactive games, an art gallery, a vintage short film plus a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

First up is a newly produced extra entitled "Love Letters", a deleted storyline which runs for 7 minutes 33 seconds, recently unearth scenes cut together for the first time and presented here for fans, it's a nice addition to the set of extras.

An alternate ending is next which runs for 4 minutes 34 seconds. This ending was not animated so it's made up of production drawings that have been cut into a reel and includes voice performance. The scene features Robin getting injured after his castle top leap into the moat of Price John's castle, Little John saves him as they flee into the church with Prince John and his men in pursuit. Just as he has them in his clutches King Richard returns from his Crusade and relieves John of the crown. He knights Robin and Little John as he marries Marian in a happy ending.

Next up is a video art gallery that runs for 8 minutes 50 seconds, and includes images that consist of production artwork, character design work, photos and poster art, which also features a narration explaining the process the filmmakers go through from design to completion of the film.

A virtual storybook runs for 14 minutes 21 seconds, this feature presented the movie in a storybook formst for kids.

"Disney Song Selection" feature allows you can play "Oo-De-Lally" as a sing-a-long that runs for 2 minutes 8 seconds, the song can be viewed with or without on-screen lyrics and once you've selected the song it takes right to the scene in the film in which the song appears.

Next up we have a vintage black and white short film entitled "Ye Olden Days" fro m 1933 and runs for 8 minutes 13 seconds, in this film Mickey is a travelling minstrel that saves Mini, a Princess from having to marry a Prince she doesn't love.

The disc is rounded off with some bonus trailers for:

- "The Little Mermaid"
- "The Muppet Movie"
- "Super Buddies"
- "Disney Movie Rewards" spot
- "Jake and The Neverland Pirates"
- "Return To Neverland"

DISC TWO: DVD

The second disc in this set is a standard definition DVD version of the film and a code for a digital copy version of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a 2-disc Blu-ray cased housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: A Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: C Overall: B

 


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