Robin Hood Movie Review
As the movie that I entirely changed my opinion upon second viewing, Robin Hood is a 1973 Disney animated film which is their first film to be based on a historical/mythical figure.
As I said above, Robin Hood is one of the rare Disney flicks that I thoroughly disliked when I first saw it a couple of years before. However, that changed and now I find it charming. It is still incredibly flawed and nothing too remarkable, but it is a solid little film that has its strengths and one of those strengths is definitely the plot. It is always engaging, from beginning to end, and it is also incredibly well paced. It follows the adventures of Robin Hood and his pals and his quest to get rid of the taxation ruled by Prince John and it also follows his romance with Maid Marian. Now, I think this movie succeeds in both of those stories as it is very dramatic and funny, while also being very dark in its first and quite romantic and charming in its second subplot. Granted, it is infinitely inferior to ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood‘, but Disney still managed to make a decent film about the title character and one of the best as Hollywood rarely got this character right.
I like the beginning with the rooster. He sings a nice little song and his narration I found intriguing for once. And he also closed the movie wonderfully. The whole heist is really well done in the beginning as is the tournament later on. The movie got action sequences right, albeit they are too prolonged. The romance is well introduced and well handled as well, but it is the film’s later parts with excellent action and some rather dark tone that is the most intriguing. Overall, the movie flows nicely and is very entertaining and amusing to watch for sure.
Now, for the characters. They are anthromorphic and although that got on my nerves initially, I got its approach later as it lends to much of the humor in the film and was easier for animators to animate for better and for worse. Robin here is definitely good, but too cocky for my taste. However, they nicely mixed his arrogant persona, charisma and abilities with his heart and care for his people. Maid Marian is good as well, albeit a typical female love interest. But Little John is absolutely superb and so funny which is again a testament to Phil Harris who did Baloo in the ‘The Jungle Book‘ as well. He is a great voice actor and he brought a lot of the humor and heart to the movie. But all of the performances are great as well and it made the movie seem professional.
I disliked its villain – Prince John. He is once again a typical lame Disney villain and I get that he is made weak on purpose to help the humor, but he is still lame and those choices to ridicule him sometimes seemed way too over-the-top. Sir Hiss is a typical henchman as well, but the relationship between the two is certainly amusing to follow. Now, the Sheriff of Nottingham is the sole villain they got right as he posed the most threat and was genuinely bad and capable. As for Lady Kluck, she was the funniest part here with her voice and her fighting abilities. She was amazing and came out of nowhere.
Speaking of her, she is the example of how the humor in Robin Hood is both good and bad. It is definitely funny at times with a lot of pathos in its first half, but it is also very frothy and foolish as well. And no matter how good it genuinely can be, the humor nonetheless brought too much parody to the film and its light tone doesn’t mash well with the dark approach in the second half.
The animation is without a doubt the weakest aspect here. It is just so mediocre and forgettable that it is a shame for such a studio to do so. And it is even horrendous at times because it is mainly so incredibly lazy. It just steals the animation from ‘Snow White‘ in one whole dancing sequence which is just ridiculous. It also never has any artistic drive whatsoever and just is just there to serve the plot. The characters are okay, but nothing too remarkable with a typical character design. But at least it is colorful and charming.
The soundtrack here is surprisingly good. This is one of the things that struck me the most upon second viewing as I never knew how many good songs Robin Hood has and it does! Oo-de-lally is just gorgeous and so incredibly catchy and old-fashioned. Not in Nottingham is so poignant and melancholy whereas Whistle-Stop is so fun. But the two best songs are Love and The Phony King of England. The former is a really nice and romantic ballad beautifully sung, albeit too short in length. And the latter is the highlight that, despite its recycled animation accompanying it, manages to be one of the best sequences because it is so spirited, so fun and just so incredibly catchy and joyous. The soundtrack in Robin Hood is a testament to how great Disney Animation was back in the day with having terrific songs, but also having those songs suit the mood and the time period of the story told, a quality they forgot nowadays.
The directing is nothing memorable, but the acting is great and the imagery is excellent. The dialogue is also solid as is the film’s humor. The emotional investment is there, but only in its second half and the tone has such a jarring shift in the middle. This picture is of the similar quality level as ‘The Aristocats‘ and although the next two Disney movies from the seventies are better, this is still one of the most purely entertaining and fun flicks that is charming in its own right, if incredibly flawed.