The beloved King Richard has gone on a crusade, leaving his kingdom in the hands of his brother, Prince John. Sadly for those within the kingdom, John is despised and with good reason, as his greed is endless and he is motivated only by self service. His greed is so powerful, he raised taxes to insane levels and the population has been crushed under his demands. As generous and kind as his brother was as a ruler, John is twice as brutal and uncaring, so the kingdom has fallen into hard times. But not everyone stands idle as John fleeces the hard working locals, as one fox and his friends are determined to fight back. That fox is Robin Hood, a figure who steals from the tax coffers, but not for his own gain. The gold he liberates from John’s iron hands doesn’t go into his own pockets, but is returned to the poor, who need it so badly. Of course, Prince John doesn’t care for Robin’s actions, so he dispatches the Sheriff of Nottingham to put an end to his disruptions. Robin has big plans though, including taking part in an archery competition, romancing Maid Marian, and doing all he can to return as much as gold to the poor as he is able. But can even Robin Hood and his band of merry gents evade John’s forces forever, or will the lovable rogue be punished for his actions?
Robin Hood is one of the lower profile Disney animated features, but it is a personal favorite of mine and a fun take on the famous legend. While time hasn’t been as kind to Robin Hood as other Disney films, it is still more than solid entertainment. I am biased, since I watched and loved this movie as a child, but even I can see its flaws now, even if I ignore them. This was produced during Disney’s down period, between their early success and their return to prominence. Perhaps that is why the animation is a couple steps down from the usual Disney handiwork, with a very simple visual design. To be honest, this looks more like a television production, as opposed to the grand, detailed animation typical of Disney’s pedigree. The music is also an area not up to snuff, as the songs seem flat and forgettable. So it is obvious Robin Hood wasn’t a high priority in terms of attention to detail, so the movie was held back from the start. The slower pace is bound to frustrate new viewers, with limited action on showcase, but there is still a fun vibe present. As much as the flaws hurt, Robin Hood still has its moments and I am sure younger viewers will have fun here. Disney has spruced up the flick with a new digital transfer and soundtrack, as well as a few supplements. So for fans of the movie or even Disney nuts, Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition is probably the best treatment we’ll see on DVD.
Video: How does it look?
Robin Hood is presented in 1.75:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new transfer, but it doesn’t look as if much restoration work has been done. There is grain evident in most scenes, as well as marks and debris, so the print is in rough condition. The print concerns impact the visuals in every respect, as colors have a dull look and contrast isn’t up to snuff. As such, what should be a bold, colorful visual design comes off as washed out and flat, not what we want from a Disney animated feature. I hope we see a restoration for the eventual HD release, as this movie deserves much better than this.
Audio: How does it sound?
The new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t do much to impress either, as audio is acceptable, but never rises above average. The audio is limited, so surround presence is minimal and on the whole, the movie has a thin sound. This could be due to the age and limitations of the sound design, but I find it hard to believe there wasn’t a way to bring more out of this soundtrack. If nothing else, the music could use a boost and that could have added some much needed life to the experience. I found vocals to be clear and never hard to understand, so at least dialogue is in order here. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as English subtitles, just in case.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here are not impressive, but the best of the lot is an alternate end sequence, shown through rather rough sketches. The rest of the supplements include two interactive games, direct access to the film’s songs, and a bonus animated short, Ye Olden Days.