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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Robin Hood (1991)

"You and your people may have stolen every decent acre of my country, and built your mighty castles on them, but I am still Sir Robert Hode, and I am still the Earl of Huntington. And this land your on still belongs to me."
- Sir Robert Hode (Patrick Bergin)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 19, 2004

Stars: Patrick Bergin
Other Stars: Uma Thurman, Owen Teale, Jürgen Prochnow, Jeroen Krabbé, David Morrissey, Jeff Nuttall, Stephen Pallister, Edward Fox
Director: John Irvin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Release Date: May 11, 2004
UPC: 024543116226
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B D-

DVD Review

I suppose the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood from 1938 is one of the most permanent and indelible renditions of the character—though not the most realistic; over the years there have been countless takes on the man, who along with his band of merry men would steal from the rich and give to the poor. In this 1991 version, released a few months before the big-budget Kevin Costner flop, Patrick Bergin tackles the role of Sir Robert Hode, the real-life 12th-century Saxon who was the 4th Earl of Huntington, and who eventually would became an outlaw in his own country after ending up on the bad side of the powerful Norman rulers.

In this John (Ghost Story, Hamburger Hill) Irvin-directed telling, Bergin's Hode insults frothing Sir Miles Falcanet (Jurgen Prochnow), and he then compounds his troubles by crossing the tenuous line in his relationship with the powerful Baron Daguerre (Jeroen Krabbé). Cast out and branded an outlaw, Hode and his wisecracking pal Will Scarlet (Owen Teale) take to the forest and soon fall in with a wayward band of leaderless fighters equally at odds with Norman rule. Mix in a wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance with Daguerre's niece Marian (Uma Thurman), and Irvin is able to put a vaguely different spin on the legend of Robin Hood while keeping the familiar bits intact.

The romance between Hode and Marian, which includes some double entendres about the need for a proper "lashing," doesn't have the spark that a truly grand epic needs. Thurman looks the part of a wealthy noblewoman, and she even gets the chance to disguise herself as a boy, but she drifts in and out of her line reads. Bergin and Teale, as leader and sidekick, have a more believable rapport together, but a film like this really needs a great villain, and as the heavy, Jurgen Prochnow comically mangles his lines with one of the strangest, most mercurial accents I have ever heard. Maybe not as high profile as Costner's in-and-out British accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Prochnow is just about as inept and certainly as distracting whenever he speaks in this film.

This Robin Hood doesn't cavort about in green tights and a feather in his cap, and in Irvin's world the look and feel comes closer to the dirty, foggy, damp 12th-century English countryside I think most of us would envision if we put our collective minds to it. Sherwood Forest looks fairly unpleasant, and the hideout of Hode and his men is anything but regal. The story, layered as it is in taxation and domination, doesn't fully reinvent the legend, but it does tell the tale in what at least seems like a more realistic and truthful manner.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - n/a
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The backcover touts this release as having a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, but in reality it is probably more like 1.85:1. That minor quibble aside, this two-sided disc sports the widescreen transfer on one side, and a 1.33:1 full-frame print on the other. The prints have quite a bit of speckling, but the overall image detail is sharp and well defined. This isn't an especially bright film, and the transfer matches the intentionally gloomy and muddy colors used by John Irvin to give Robin Hood that gritty, grubby look.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 2.0 surround, and I was pleasantly surprised at the level of rear channel activity. This is hardly going to knock your socks off, but the presentation is moderately lively, with clean dialogue and a fair amount of directional pans to enhance your viewing experience a bit.

A Spanish stereo track and a French 2.0 surround track are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras to brag about, other than a trailer for the feature. The disc itself is cut into 24 chapters, and features optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Here's an interesting retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with Patrick Bergin, an actor I never especially warmed to in other films, actually coming off as a rather likeable lead.

Worth a peek for Robin Hood completists only.


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