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Robin Hood (Unrated Director's Cut) (2010) Print E-mail
Friday, 24 September 2010
ImageI was really looking forward to a Ridley Scott take on the Robin Hood saga.  Unfortunately, this film falls flat on its face.  We are offered nothing new and the performances are simply average.  Everyone seems to be of the same personality, making it a bit difficult to distinguish one from another.

Errol Flynn’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood” still stands as the best Robin Hood film ever made.  Sitting through Scott’s “Robin Hood” made me wish I was watching “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.”  In fact, I went back and watched that film right after this one and was so much more enthralled.

“Robin Hood” lacks a gripping story.  It is simply the prequel to any actual Robin Hood movie.  The film is centered on Robin Longstride’s return to England after fighting in the Crusades.  Longstride made a promise to Robert of Loxley that he would return his father’s sword to him in Nottingham.  Confused.  So was I.  I was always under the impression that Robin of Loxley was Robin Hood, but apparently he becomes an adopted son of Sir Walter Loxley.

Cate Blanchett portrays Maid Marion or Marion Loxley.  She was married to Robert Loxley and is forced to be with Robin Longstride to ensure that the lands will remain in the family.  Blanchett doesn’t really grab me as an actress so it was hard for me to care much about Marion’s plight.

Also, something that really gets me in films like this is the perversion of history.  King Richard was a real person.  He really fought in the Crusades.  But for goodness sake he did not die in the Crusades.  He died in 1199 in between the third and fourth crusades.  Filmmakers can’t just change the facts of history on a real person to suit their needs.  I know this is done all the time, but it just irks me something awful.

King Richard was known for his military leadership and commanded the respect and loyalty of his subjects.  When the crown is passed to his brother John, he does not see the country the same way.  He sees his subjects as peasants that exist to pay him taxes.  When John is betrayed by a trusted source, he must rally the army of the North to defend the country against a French invasion.
Unfortunately, John was not known to keep his word and thus starts the beginning of Robin Hood’s real story once this film ends.

“Robin Hood” felt to me like a wannabe “Gladiator,” which isn’t surprising considering it is the same director and same actor leading both films.  Unfortunately, “Robin Hood” is a giant let down that drags on for over two and one half hours, if you watch the director’s cut.

“Robin Hood” comes to Blu-ray with an AVC encode and 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  The transfer holds up quite well, but utterly depressing at the same time.  Apparently, the look of the 12th century is one of doom and gloom.  While I understand this be a filmmaker’s tool to convey depression and hopelessness, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Do you honestly believe that because the time period was 900 years ago that color didn’t exist in a vibrant nature?  I’m sure Sherwood forest was lush and green.  It couldn’t possibly be overcast every single day of the week.  So, with “Robin Hood” there isn’t much in the way of vibrant colors.  In fact, there are none.  This isn’t a problem with the transfer.  Details and textures are the best aspects of this transfer.  Even establishing shots of the forest from overhead leave you believing that you can count every single leaf.  Black levels are nicely resolved, but a bit weak in the upper spectrum.  There is no artifacting in the image and there are only a couple of instances of resolution instances, particularly on the chainmail.  Shadow delineation is a good as to be expected from such a dark-looking film.  Overall, this is a sharp and pleasing transfer.

Don’t be fooled by all the glorious reviews out there about the sound of this film.  It is not all it’s cracked up to be when thoroughly examined.  First, the dialogue is muffled throughout the film.  It is constantly being obscured by sound effects.  It is one of those dramatic films where lines go by without understanding but you just don’t care enough to rewind to try and figure out what they said.  Directionality is spotty.  There are numerous “flight of the arrows” sequences.  Some of them are amazing and others are misses.  The audio does do well in conveying the hits of arrows and swords, but it pretty much forgets about the flight of the arrows.  We hear the arrow snap from the bow and then nothing and then land at the target.  Where is the flight?  The sound designers through so much audio into the soundfield that there are sounds being torn in all directions without cause.  Sounds attempt to pan but clash with one another once they leave the point of origin, leaving virtually no localization.  There is a lot of bottom end to this soundtrack that it eats up the higher harmonics of the frequency spectrum, making other sounds appear weak.  The music score, if there was one, falls into the background, leaving only horses, chainmail, swords, arrows and screams to fill the soundfield.  There is a lot going on in every scene that it makes the audience acoustically exhausted early on.  So, while the DTS-HD Master Audio track does its job, the original sound design was rather poor.

“Robin Hood” comes to home video with a package contained three discs.  There is one Blu-ray, a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy.  The release contains both an unrated director’s cut and the theatrical version.  There a 15 minute difference between the two and is seamlessly integrated.

“Director’s Notebook” is a PiP track that is only available on the theatrical version.  This feature presents the audience with interviews, storyboards and behind the scenes footage.  Despite there being a director’s cut, there are still about 15 minutes of deleted scenes.  “The Art Of Nottingham” contains conceptuals, storyboards and galleries.  “Rise and Rise Again: Making Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’” is a typically making-of featurette.  The disc is also BD-Live and pocketBLU enabled.

“Robin Hood” is not very original and leaves the audience yawning for the most part.  The audio transfer is less than stellar, but the video transfer holds up quite well.  I would only recommend this for those that can’t leave without another Robin Hood fix.

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