Newest Review: ... film is based on the old folk song which i think goes something like this: "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the glenn, Robin H... more
He's sure to be known as John the Worst!
Robin Hood (DVD)
Member Name: cha97mw
Robin Hood (DVD)
Advantages: cute animal characters, quite a few visual gags
Disadvantages: Gags grown old quickly, quite americanised, non-catchy soundtrack.
I recently picked up a copy of the film on DVD for my children for Christmas. I picked it as I was trying to make up 4 DVDs that we didn't have already to take advantage of a promotion on Tesco's website where I could get 4 Disney DVDs for £20. If it hadn't of been for the promotion, I probably would have skipped it by. It is only in the last few weeks my son's have been inspired to watch the DVD, after a visit to Sherwood Pines Forest in Nottingham and their Grandad filling them up with stories about Robin Hood. I told them we had the DVD in the cupboard, and they were very keen to watch it.
Watching it as an adult, my opinion has not changed that much. I still feel that this is not one of the most exciting Disney films on the market, and it does struggle to live up to the likes of Toy Story, or even the 20 year old films like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. However, there is some charm there, and it has grabbed my boys attention for the time being in a way that I was not expecting.
The film follows the traditional Disney format of using animated animals as the familiar characters we know, alongside some musical numbers. Robin Hood is a cunning fox, and Maid Marion is a Vixen. King Richard and Prince John are both lions, though Prince John is a far inferior lion to King Richard who is off at The Crusades. Little John is a big brown bear. Maid Marion has a lady in waiting, Lady Cluck, who is a matronly chicken, and Prince John is advised by a snake, Sir Hiss. The Sheriff of Nottingham is a wolf, and he is helped by 2 vultures, Nutsy and Trigger. The other main character is the Friar Tuck who tries to help the poor like Robin Hood, and he is a badger. The animals chosen here are very significant as the animals have the same attributes as the people they are representing from the story. We all use phrases like crafty or cunning fox, sly wolf, courageous or cowardly lion.
The plot is a simple one, and is told to us by a rooster minstrel. Robin Hood and Little John live in the forest surrounding Nottingham. The people of Nottingham are being ruled by Prince John while King Richard is fighting out of the country. He is a poor ruler, and very greedy. The Sheriff of Nottingham runs Nottingham, and he implements strict tax laws leaving the poor even poorer. He is not a nice character, and he will take the last bit of money leaving people unable to feed their children, so Robin Hood tries to even the balance by stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor.
As a side story, Robin had a childhood relationship with Maid Marion, and he wants to marry her. He enters an archery competition to win a kiss from her, risking his own life in the process.
Being a kids film, this is quite short with a run time of only 70 minutes, even so, this feels a bit long for this film, as it bores me a little bit, but the kids are happy enough watching it. Most of the gags in this film come from what the characters are doing rather than a clever script like you get in more modern films. The visual gags come from Robin Hood dressing in disguise, and the funny habit that Prince John has of sucking his thumb, which the other characters take the mickey about. Character flaws are exaggerated to get the giggle. It does appeal and make both my boys sit there giggling, but the appeal has a certain limit. If you are older than 5 it is harder to be amused by the same gag.
The musical score to this film is also a bit less catchy to me than other films, and I find it quite hard to pick out more than the odd one or two words out of the songs. Luckily one of the extra features to the DVD involves a karaoke style playing of the songs with the words underneath. 'Oo-De-Lally' is a song describing how Little John and Robin Hood walk through the forest and what they do. It is mildly catchy. The song 'Love' is when Maid Marion and Robin Hood are reunited and shows them walking along together. Sung by a female singer, the song is not memorable at all to me. The only song that grabs my attention at all is a party type song sung by Little John, called 'The Phony King of England', and this is a catchy folky type of number featuring all the animals dancing in celebration at outwitting Prince John.
I would say my overall opinion of this is that is it a pretty average film, and it is only the fact it is a Disney film that gets you watching it. The use of animals is good, and there are some pretty cute characters such as the family of rabbits, or the hilarious Sir Hiss and Lady Cluck. The songs are also very average, and aren't likely to be on a version of Disney's catchiest hits. I often hear my eldest singing 'You got a friend in Me' from Toy Story, which is far more catchy, but still quite simple. I think part of my problem is the American characterisation of a very English story, and it hasn't worked that well at all for me.
The DVD contains a few extra features, that are at best ok, and not that interesting. The songs are shown with words, as described in the review. There is an alternative ending. This is the most interesting extra to me, but it is not well presented, shown as storybook style images, and voiced by people who aren't the original actors from the film. It kind of gives you the idea, but it means nothing at all to my kids as the characters don't really look or sound the same. There is also a short black and white cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse as Robin Hood. There are two games too, but we haven't played on these.
Overall, if you want a fairly complete Disney collection, then you will probably want to own it, but this is never going to be one of my personal favourites and it does not have that same watchability that others do. I can watch most other Disney films over and over with the kids without clock watching waiting for the film to be over.
Summary: How a British story can be Americanised and not as good.