ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES
(Two Disc Special Edition)
Review by Mark Wiechman
Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Mary
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Features: See Review
Length: 155 Minutes
Release Date: June 10, 2003
my country, Christian, there are women of such beauty that they can possess a
manís mind, so that they would die for her."
that why you were going to be executed! For
I have never understood the deluge of negative reviews
given to this movie. But on the other hand I never understood what the big deal
about Gladiator was; it totally
underwhelmed me (see Ben-Hur instead,
please!). The focus of the
venom seems to be Kevin Costnerís lack of an English accent, but Christian
Slater and several others do not employ one either.
Costnerís performance is self-absorbed as usual, and of course, we have
to endure the obligatory shot of his behind, this time with Marion gawking at
Like Harrison Ford, he seems to turn in a fairly professional performance and has the good fortune to be in good movies without ever flexing too much thespian muscle. But it worksóthe spoiled Noblemanís son comes home and helps save his countrymen.
But on the other hand, this is basically a cartoonish tale
told in a slightly humorous cartoonish way, but with plenty of uplifting spirit
which we need more often in movies. I cannot stand films that take themselves too seriously when
the subject matter is just an adventure. A
completely authentic and serious portrayal would not have worked in my opinion.
This ainít Shakespeare folks.
While the film has silly moments, it is not nearly as silly as the Errol
Flynn portrayal of long ago. You can also find fault with its historical
inaccuracyóI really doubt a witch raised the Sheriff of Nottingham, and King
Richard died in the crusades, but those are nice touches which make the story
work. Some have even suggested that Freeman was a bad choice
since Moors were not necessarily African-American.
UhmÖthey originated in Africa!!! They
were more Arabic than African, but if you want accurate history, see my review
of The History of Britain.
I had not seen the movie in several years and upon watching
this release, I realize why I like it so much:
the characters and the message.
The eternally underrated Morgan Freemanís portrayal of Hazeem, a Moor
who owes his life to Robin, makes the whole film for me.
This is the only sympathetic portrayal of a devout Muslim I have seen.
He insists on facing east to pray in the evening, he cannot consume
alcohol, and his scientific knowledge is far ahead of the west.
We cannot help but like such an intelligent, honorable warrior who can
also deliver Little Johnís baby, who was in the breach position, just before
he shows gunpowder to the stunned Englishmen.
He is Mr. Spock to Costnerís Captain Kirk. Friar Tuck is also a scream as a genuinely religious man who
counts beer as one of Godís blessings. He
is tough as nails defending his bounty but manages to see Godís hand in
teaching him humility at the hands of the merry men.
He is the fussy Dr. McCoy, if you want to complete the Star Trek analogy. And
best of all, only Alan Rickman could be so likeably disgusting as Nottingham (or
is it disgustingly likeable?). Only
he could suggest that we cancel Christmas!
There are valuable messages in the movie which many viewers
miss: that power is a fleeting
thing, as we see the Kingís supporters turn against him while he is away; the
courage of common men protecting their homes, however so humble; that even
religious authorities can be corrupted; and of course the good old-fashioned
rescue of a damsel in distress. In
this case, she does not even want to be rescued, but of course Robin persists,
which is the point, I think.
I admit that part of my fascination with this movie is also
the beautiful landscape, the castles, the medieval dress, the occult witch with
her upside-down cross advising Nottingham, the opening scenes showing the horror
and folly of the crusades, the hard but free life of the peasants, and having
the biggest song of the year (Bryan Adamsí Everything I Do I Do For You) in the film doesnít hurt either.
The pacing of the film is also excellent.
There are about 12 minutes of new footage, most of it adds
nothing to the film and some of the scenes with the sheriff only muddle the
Sherwood Forest has never looked better. The new transfer is obvious, none of the dark patchiness that plagues so many films from this time. Colors are brilliant; I could not see any compression flaws.
The soundtrack and overall sound mix are excellent and
shakes the walls in this glorious DTS release.
Like X-Men 1.5, I did not realize how good the soundtrack was and how
much it adds to the film until I heard it in DTS. All channels are used imaginatively, such as the sounds of
birds flying coming across the rear channels.
Dialogue comes through fine as well.
These include a production documentary, interviews with cast members, Bryan Adams performing his hit live at Slane Castle in Ireland, two photo galleries including Weapons of the Time, menu essays, cast & crew biographies, and theatrical trailers and TV spots.
The commentaries are only interesting to folks who have
already seen the film many times; they will be of little interest to everyday
watchers. The documentaries
unfortunately are similar to the golly-gee-whiz style seen in the Gladiator
Summary:With such a great cast having fun in Sherwood, you canít go wrong with Prince of Thieves. Donít be afraid to enjoy a fun movie with a message from a darker, simpler, but more adventurous time.