From the narration of a good ole' rooster minstrel comes the story of Robin Hood and burly bear Little John. With a familiar whistle and the strutting of the two protagonists, the film sets a laid back, friendly mood. Even though Robin Hood is the head thief in town, fear never strikes anyone in his presence. As Robin and John strut through the forest after escaping from a horde of arrow shooting, axe-wielding angry henchmen, they come across a Royal caravan courting Prince John and his assistant, Hiss. After Robin Hood and Little John work their magic on the caravan by stealing just about everything of value, Prince John begins to concentrate heavily on the seizure of the bandits. Thus starts the great cat and mouse chase to capture the "villainous" Robin Hood.
However, the town of Nottingham is in poverty and peril. The sheriff collects a ridiculous amount of taxes from even the poorest of folk. It is with those plundered riches from the wealthy and noble that Robin Hood aids the poor folk of Nottingham. He visits children during their birthdays and showers them with gifts, as well as provides much needed funds to crippled workers. As Robin Hood works harder and harder to steal from the rich, primarily Prince John, he is hunted even harder by the Royal forces. The adventure along the way, as well as a romance with a noble Maid Marian, makes for an enjoyable romp through medieval times - Disney style.
All in all, Robin Hood is a good film for the family to enjoy. It's primarily void of any darker Disney elements. While some may see Robin Hood as a relaxed feature, other viewers might see Robin Hood as unexciting. That might be where the film loses a bit of steam. The antagonist Prince John is never menacing and threatening. Such classics from the Disney vault are so enjoyable because of the rollercoaster of emotions that the viewer is taken on. Robin Hood, however, flows along very smoothly at a very tranquil pace and brings some easy smiles from the viewers into the picture.
Robin Hood is a fun animated flick. There are many likable characters throughout the story, especially the children Robin Hood interacts with. Plus, Little John is just a blast to behold as Robin Hood's accomplice. The voice acting is all matched well and pleasantly well done. Also, serene splashes of music here and there are scattered to just the right times. Even though the animation and voice acting do seem very familiar to other Disney pieces, Robin Hood stands out due to the charm of the setting, the supporting characters, and a delightful protagonist.
As mentioned, the Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition DVD comes in a very snazzy package with a glossy DVD cover, featuring a puffed-up section where the main characters are all standing. The DVD comes with a chapter listing insert, promotional inserts, and a very slickly designed disc.
There is some curious news to report: Robin Hood is presented in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio and just feels ... zoomed. The Gold Collection DVD is presented at 1.33:1. Which is the original intended aspect ratio is still an unknown point to this reviewer. The good news is the transfer is very, very enchanting and MUCH cleaner than the predecessor. Colors are solid as a rock, detail is unbelievably crisp, and print damage is fairly minimal. There is the instance here and there where scratches or, at one point, a larger blotch surfaces. Even in light of this, the presentation is sparkling. Purists will probably want to hold onto both this disc and the Gold Collection disc, however, due to the aspect ratio differences.
Disney has remixed Robin Hood in a fantastic Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. Dialogue was astonishingly clear with minimal noise. The voices, especially from Little John, were all very entertaining and echo well in their typical Disney charm. Even though the quality was sparkling, it wasn't very dynamic in regards to the other channels. For its age, Robin Hood sounded pretty darn good. French and Spanish language tracks are also available.
The most exciting special feature included with this Most Wanted Edition of Robin Hood is an Alternate Ending. Shown through storyboard presentation, this ending is much darker in tone and, if tweaked a bit, could have rounded out the temperament nicely for the film. Even though the alternate ending was shown through storyboards, it was quite enjoyable to watch.
An Art Gallery is included with some quite striking conceptual art designs.
The "Ye Olden Days" short is a great animated classic that fits perfectly well on this DVD. It sets the mood perfectly for olden-times Disney style.
Disney has also put together a series of Family Friendly Extras for this disc:
Robin Hood Merry Games includes an Archery Trivia Challenge game that fires arrows at the targets with each answer. The Rescue Maid Marian game involves making selections of specific items in locales that appear during the movie.
Note: One thing that surfaced with this copy of Robin Hood (and hopefully did not appear with subsequent copies) is an odd selection problem with the disc. While navigating through the "Rescue Maid Marian" extras, the items highlighted were not firmly placed underneath the selected fields. In other words, when a sword was selected, the shape of a sword to the side of the actual item was shown. This was the case with each closing button and each Main Menu button as well. It seems that the menus themselves were set to a fullscreen setting, while the selection fields were left to operate at widescreen. As stated before, hopefully this is an isolated incident.
Disney's Song Selection enables the viewer to watches the "Oo-de-lally", "Love", and "The Phony King of England" songs individually via a sing-along function.
In short, the extras could have been a little more expansive for the hardcore Disney animation fans. Some further commentary on the creation of the project would have been fantastic. However, the inclusion of the storyboard alternate ending and the conceptual art gallery are both welcome additions. Also, the trivia games are fun enough to be worth a walkthrough after the film is over.
Whether you're an aficionado of Disney animation as a whole, of the Robin Hood character, or of laid back fantasy adventure films, the Robin Hood: Most Wanted Edition DVD is an ample choice for all of the above. At a deliberate pace, this film succeeds on its charismatic line-up of characters and its innate ability to charm just about anyone with its sincere nature. Even though it's not the most exciting or beautifully animated Disney film ever created, Robin Hood still succeeds as fun, light fare and does come Recommended from this reviewer. Even those who already own the Gold Collection DVD will want to give this new disc a look purely for the sparkling, boosted transfer and storyboard alternate ending.