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Reviewer: Brendan Surpless
Robin Hood is directed by the legendary Ridley Scott. In this 2010 adaptation of the infamous tale, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) serves only one man, that being King Richard. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town nearly in collapse thanks to corruption and taxation. It’s here that Robin falls for Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett). Marion is a bit skeptical of Robin if only because he’s an outsider and she isn’t sure of what he exact reasoning is for being in Nottingham. Knowing a way to her heart may be defending the town she resides in, Robin bands together an army of similar folk in hopes of restoring peace to the town and the country as a whole. Robin immediately sees this may not be the most simple task as the entire country has threats from afar, other countries that would love to take over. Now it’s up to the new hero to somehow win not only Lady Marion’s hand but also the war itself. What results is an all-around well made film that isn’t Scott’s best work but is still quite good if only due to the fine acting and locales.
Akin to that of what Orlando Bloom did for “Kingdom of Heaven“, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett add a sense of style and authenticity to this film. At first glance, Crowe’s performance is rather quiet, somewhat subdued. This isn’t because Crowe himself is aging or becoming bored, but rather he’s capturing Robin Longstride in the essence of pure exhaustion. Here’s a man that has just returned from battle, a man that has spent a majority of his life defending everything that King Richard stood for. Like that of Marcus Aurelius in “Gladiator“, Richard was like a father figure for Robin. Now with his death, Robin must not stop fighting but literally must fight the battle of his life. While not as similar as the aforementioned example Lady Marion provides womanly figure, something that keeps Robin going like Lucilla did. Both Crowe and Blanchett worked together to create believable characters, characters that truly helped define the film and both the age.
In closing, “Robin Hood” may not be the kind of film that will appeal to everyone, but there is definitely something here that is very enjoyable. The fine acting, lavish sets, heroic story and moving score all add together to create a different style of “Robin Hood” than we may think of. If you have happened to hear negative press on this one, go in with your expectation level set in the middle and adjust accordingly. I do feel that if you’re a fan of Crowe, Blanchett or Scott, you will end up enjoying this one. Recommended.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Filmed using a wide arrange of Arriflex, Panavision Cameras with Optica Elite and Angenieux Optimo Lenses according to IMDb, “Robin Hood’s” Super 35mm film print makes a solid transfer to hi-def. Having seen the film theatrical, I do recall a majority of the film having a kind of darker, subdued tone to the palette, something of which seems to capture a majority of Scott’s films of this nature. Shot in varying locales, all of these come across fine but not with the clarity we might expect from day-and-date titles. It’s not to say that this transfer is bad, absolutely not. As briefly mentioned, the color palette features rich blacks, all of which are vibrant. Even the sequences with those on the lighter side of the spectrum, ie some of the interior shots or the ending beach scene, do look fine. Detail is where the transfer has its strongest and weakest points. For instance, the armor worn and its chain-mail, really stands out and has a bit of “pop” to it visually in Hi-Def but the dim scenes feel a bit subdued and don’t seem to hold as much detail at times. I believe this is more the material at hand, as it’s meant to look purposely bleak at times and stunning at other times. Grain levels are present, but never overly cumbersome. More aesthetically added in to capture the grittiness of the elements. Boiled down, “Robin Hood” looks fine as it does represent Scott’s vision. All in all, the stronger points outweigh the weaker points in terms of detail in this transfer and this earns an impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. As one might expect, “Robin Hood” is the type of sonic experience that it should be. Dialogue is well reproduced with no instance of drop out. LFE is fierce, deep and immersive giving us that ‘oomph’ when need be. At a first glance of a film of this nature, one may think that the sound design would tend to lean toward the front, only occasionally creeping up to the rears when the action occurs. Well, this is not the case here. The atmosphere of the mix is truly the best aspect here in particular how the mix handles every piece of the film. Whether it be a quieter dialogue moment or the big ending battle, this mix is excellent. Little effects like an arrow zipping by fills the room with a kind of ‘shoosh’ effect that gives us a full 360 degree soundfield, The score by Marc Streitenfeld, while not as robust or dominating as his previous Ridley Scott films like “Gladiator” or “Kingdom of Heaven“, was still great. Combining both original material with that Celtic feel made this something that does stand out. All in all this earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus materials are presented in both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound — unless otherwise noted below.
Disc 2 contains:
A DVD of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is included.
Disc 3 contains:
A Digital Copy of the film (in the “Director’s Cut”) is included which is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as both Mac and PC computers.
Overall, the bonus materials include a few exclusives as well as an entertaining and informative making of.