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November 10, 2010
Robin Hood - Director's Cut
Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
13/5/201022/9/2010UniversalRidley Scott
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MRussell Crowe

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Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.

When it comes to people teaming up in the movie industry few collaborate as well as director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe with four movies together in the last decade including Gladiator, A Good Year, American Gangster, Body of Lies and now a fifth movie, Robin Hood. This movie is a bit of a reinvention for the much loved character with Ridley Scott bringing us a fresh take on the legendary figure.

In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.

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Riding through the countryside.
With a much more dramatic tone then most other Robin Hood films including Kevin Costner's 1991 epic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves this latest movie keeps things serious as it follows Robin Hood as a British soldier fighting in France before returning to his homeland. It must be said that the acting in this film is nigh on superb with Russell Crowe putting in a fine performance as the leading man while Cate Blanchett is certainly up to the task as Marion Loxley. The supporting cast too are superb including William Hurt, Max con Sydow, and Mark Strong.

There were two things that impressed, or should that be surprised me, about this movie. First of all this isn't Gladiator 2 - this movie has a very different tone and storyline and concerns that this was a 'spiritual sequel' are unfounded. The second aspect that I was surprised about is that this really is an origin story for the character of Robin Hood, and doesn't tell the story of his exploits of stealing from the rich to give to the poor. As a result though that makes this film feel like the first in a couple of films and I desperately hope that the filmmakers make a sequel so we can see Robin Hood in full flight.

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Russell Crowe as Robin Hood.
We must point out too that this Blu-Ray includes both the Theatrical and Extended Cuts of the film with the latter adding in an additional 16 minutes of footage taking the film up to a rather lengthy 156 minutes. Even at 140 minutes this film feels long so this Director's Cut will take a bit to get through. Still there are some great additional scenes added into the film which fans should enjoy.

Initial impressions of this movie left me feeling a little, well, disappointed. In part that was due to my expectation of seeing Robin Hood and his merry men prancing around Sherwood Forest (so, perhaps that's the Mel Brooks part of me coming out). But alas after seeing this film once it gave me an urge to watch it again - and that's a sign of a good movie. At the very least this is worth watching at least once.

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Max con Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley in Robin Hood.
Robin Hood is presented on Blu-Ray in the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. This isn't the brightest looking movie, nor the most colourful, but the transfer perfectly recreates the dark gritty look of the era and the locations. Impressively the fine detail really shines in this movie and it shows off the attention to detail which the filmmakers had with the sets and costumes. If there is one aspect to this transfer where we had some very minor disappointments it was with the detail in some darker scenes with very light black crush evident.

As a big-budget blockbuster Robin Hood is certainly a release that will put your sound system to the test. Using a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit./48Khz) encoding the transfer of this film to Blu-Ray truly is spectacular with plenty of clarity and directional precision to the soundtrack. From the quietest dialogue to the loudest battles everything sounds quite special and there really is so little fo fault with this Blu-Ray. We must also point out that there is almost constant use of the directional (rear) channels in this film providing a very engaging experience.

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Preparing to take out some enemies.
Beyond the primary English track this Blu-Ray disc also includes French, Italian, German, and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks encoded at 768kbps, and providing a good representation of the film. Also on the disc is a Descriptive Video Service encoded in a pretty flat Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 192kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Swedish. We sampled the English subtitles and didn't notice any issues of concern.

Robin Hood has been released at retail on Blu-Ray in two editions - this single disc version and a much more elaborate 2-disc version which is loaded with extras. Unfortunately being the single disc release the extras here are pretty light so if you love the behind the scenes extras we suggest you splash out for a couple of dollars for the 2-disc version. So what's on this single disc release then?

Directors Notebook (HD): Accessible through the U- Control Menu (we nearly missed this extra) this is essentially a Picture-in-Picture track which allows you to turn on or off the special features including plenty of interviews with Ridley Scott and behind the scenes footage and images.

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The new king shall arise...
The Art of Nottingham (HD): The only other extra on this release includes images from Pre-vis/Storyboards, Production Design, Costumes, and Behind the Scenes images. There's some good stuff here, but ultimately it's only images.

We must point out that the review scores below reflect this cheap single-disc release lacking any decent extras. As a movie this is a fairly entertaining release with great acting and storyline while the transfer on Blu-Ray is nigh on perfect. Robin Hood is worth checking out, and on Blu-Ray it's quite spectacular.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.