Between 2005 and 2007, BKN (formerly Bohbot Entertainment) produced a series of CGI
animated 45-minute "short features" based upon popular stories and books. This DVD collection features
three: Robin Hood: Quest for the King, The Prince and the Pauper: Double
Trouble, and The Three Musketeers: Saving the Crown. The "cast" is made up of
anthropomorphic animals, seemingly appearing in multiple stories.
As seen in the credits, these were animated mostly in India by a team of over 50 artists. How
exactly do these fare in quality?
Before getting into the animation, let's take a look at the three stories:
Robin Hood: Quest for the King is a heavily abridged and largely non-faithful adaptation
of the popular legends. This begins with the archery tournament as if this is after the more
familiar adventures seen in other versions. With King Richard rumored to be on his way back to
England, the Sherriff of Nottingham (a wolf) and Prince John (a lion) conspire to have the morbidly
obese King Leopold (a dog, I think) to hold him captive. Robin Hood and his merry men (a cat and
various other animals, including a duck) travel to save the king. Along the way, Maid Marion
sneaks away with them to help out. The plot culminates with a sword fight after the Merry Men
trick Leopold into letting in a giant tart from within they hide. I'll have to hand it to BKN for coming
up with the idea to make a Robin Hood with an all-animal cast.
The Prince and the Pauper: Double Trouble is based on the Mark Twain novel, save for
toning down the darker aspects. Prince Edward (a lion) runs into Tom Canty (also a lion) in his
courtyard, befriending him in order to have some company for the afternoon. They realize their
nearly identical appearance, thus deciding to switch places. Of course, this doesn't go well. With
Edward's chief guard clued into the switch, he plans to make sure the real prince never
The Three Musketeers: Saving the Crown, originating from Alexandre Dumas' classic,
follows D'Artagnan (a cat) leaving his farm to join the musketeers. Unfortunately, Cardinal
Richelou (a skunk) effectively dissolves the private force and replaces with his own - making King
Louis (a dog) a captive in his own palace. D'Artagnan and the musketeers plot to save the king by
banding together the town against the cardinal. Along the way, his burro inexplicably makes jokes
about Mexico. More strangely, there's a love subplot between D'Artagnan and his sister.
These sound like average adaptations, don't they? Well, there's several problems. The DVD case
boasts "stunning," "brilliant," and "swashbuckling" CGI animation. While it's not unwatchable, the
animation has a slew of problems. There's little expression in movement, often looking like there
were not enough "keyframes". In closeups, it seems like a "painted" texture was applied to make
up for the general lack of detail. Worse, colors are often terribly planned. Robin Hood, in a green
outfit, stands in front of foilage almost the same shade of green. Or worse, D'Artagnan has
green fur. Voice casts are generally good, but some parts are obnoxious. During the
"Double Trouble" feature, a little furry guy named Jiffy the Jester constantly interrupts the
narrative with jokes or explaining obvious plot points. I'd imagine this would irritate even the
worse sufferers of ADD. There are also occasional songs used as padding, including one in the
Robin Hood feature that reminded me of Neil Innes' songs from Monty Python and the Holy
Grail. Otherwise, the songs are repetitive and lack any sort of memorability you'd find in a Disney film.
All three features are presented in standard 1.33:1 interlaced video. According to BKN's website,
all three of these were produced in high-definition. From what I can tell, the image tends to look
oddly framed and occasional horizontal pans are noticable. I know this is "kiddie fodder" at its
worst, but it's boggling to think CGI produced in HD wouldn't be replicated in its original format.
Colors are somewhat good, considering the often bizarre color stylings used. Detail is probably
decent, even if there's little that indicates the quality level other than the occasional overly
Standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround tracks are the sole English audio option. Dialogue is
consistently centered monaural, with only the occasional sound effect and the music score taking
advantage of separation. There's also an optional Spanish audio track.
Nothing, unless you'd want to count a "Play All" option.
Personally, I found these short features to be poorly animated and generally obnoxious. The
gimmick of using all-animal casts hints at the superior efforts by other studios. However, I will
hand it to them for one clever gag: making Cardinal Richelou a skunk in the Three Musketeers
segment. These features dwell in mediocrity with overall unappealing animation, plus using
cropped transfers. I cannot recommend this DVD. Seek other adaptations like Disney's for the
first two and Richard Lester's for the Dumas.
"The Flickering Window"