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Preview Image for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (UK)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000002156
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 1/6/2002 23:46
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    Review of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

    6 / 10


    Before Mel Gibson painted his face blue in the name of freedom, there was another Hollywood Star defending the rights of the common man and preserving their liberties in medieval England. Yes, Kevin Costner flatly refused to wear tights when he assumed the mantle of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I remember this film, but not as well as I remember the misbegotten theme song. Sixteen nauseating weeks at number one starting from the 29th of June till the 26th of October, Bryan Adams tormented a nation. The film wasn`t as bad as the song, in fact it was quite well received in the summer of 1991. It was after the fact, when I had bought the video that my doubts crept in. The DVD has done nothing to change my opinion.

    Robin of Locksley is a prisoner in a Moorish gaol, sentenced to a horrible death, but through his courage he escapes, and in the process saves the life of a fellow prisoner Azeem, a Moor also sentenced to die. Azeem swears to repay this debt and follows the Englishman back to his native land. Back in England, Robin expects a joyous welcome, but returns to find that in his absence, his Father has been executed as a Satanist, the whole of Nottingham suffers under a major tax burden and the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist, terrorising the peasantry. Determined to avenge his father`s death, Robin goes in search of help from the Maid Marian, his childhood friend. As he is talking to her, the sheriff`s men arrive forcing him to flee into Sherwood Forest, which is reputed to be haunted. There he meets up with a group of outlaws, hiding from the Sheriff. He offers to lead them to their freedom and so begins the legend of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor and finding time to woo the fair Marian in the process. The Sheriff of Nottingham is not going to sit still for this, so with his troops and the aid of a witch, Mortianna he sets about trying to eliminate the band of outlaws and continue his schemes to take the throne of England by marrying the absent King Richard`s cousin, who just happens to be Robin`s sweetheart, Marian.


    Robin Hood is given a 1.85:1 letterbox transfer. The picture is atrocious as there is a great deal of grain throughout. The film shows its age with scratches and blips quite evident. The dark scenes are very murky and ill defined. It doesn`t even live up to the lesser resolution of the letterbox format. Kevin Reynolds directs well, with an eye for the action, and the arrow`s eye view is quite funny now. I`d like to know why the menu screens are anamorphic while the film isn`t.


    A Dolby Surround English track is presented to tantalise your ears. The surround sound is quite limited. You can hear the speakers kick in occasionally when an arrow is in flight, but otherwise the surrounds seem to be used mainly for the music, with the rest of the sound being quite centralised. Michael Kamen provides the music, which is a suitably Olde English affair, quite appropriate to the film. The dialogue isn`t always clear though.


    No extras.


    Kevin Costner and Christian Slater don`t even try. Both Robin Hood and Will Scarlet have strong American accents. I wouldn`t mind, as the performance is far more important than getting an accent right, and an American accent is preferable to a Dick Van Dyke, but here the performances aren`t up to much either. Christian Slater is acceptable as Will Scarlet, but Costner shows where he gets his reputation for woodenness. He`s really just reading the lines out. I don`t know what convinced Morgan Freeman to participate in this nonsense, but here he is in a totally incongruous role as a Moor in medieval England. It reeks of PC gone mad but he does find some character in the role and is as always, enjoyable to watch. Alan Rickman rules the film as the deliciously evil Sheriff of Nottingham, he`s a welcome relief from the non-performance of Costner and I looked forward to his wicked one-liners. Mary Elisabeth Mastrantonio is Marian and her role is a little bland, they have tried to make that politically correct by making her a strong feminist in an era where feminism was yet to exist. Also the character lacks any chemistry whatsoever with Costner`s, that wretched power ballad doesn`t help either.

    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a ridiculous film. Some woeful miscasting doesn`t help much, the same with some glaring anachronisms. A Moor visits medieval England, brings a telescope, performs a caesarean and invents gunpowder. The witches chamber is lit by a laser making it look a lot like a cheesy eighties nightclub. Marian is a feminist ahead of her time and Robin Hood can fire two arrows at a time. The film is enjoyable despite all this nonsense, with its blend of ridiculous characters and overblown situations. I`m particularly fond of Little John, who yells "Bugger!" vehemently at every available opportunity. Friar Tuck is quite entertaining as well. This is a throwaway movie, nowhere near as good as it claimed to be back in 1991, but not as bad as you would expect it to be either. I think the best way to watch this movie is as if it is a spoof. The DVD sucks big time though and it`s hardly a step up from the video. And yes, `that` scene with the Sheriff atop Marian is still cut. Personally, the definitive Robin Hood is still that Daffy Duck and Porky Pig cartoon. "Ah, my trusty quarterstaff! Actually it`s a Buck and a Quarter quarterstaff, but he doesn`t know that…"

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