Starring: Brain Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Running Time: 83 mins
Robin Hood is an American film about the legend of a 12th century English bandit who took from the rich and gave to the poor as the tyrant King John ruled over a poor population.
As nice and enjoyable as this is, Robin Hood is a fairly standard Disney movie. Despite lovely animation, fun voice performances and a nice fairytale take on the folklore, there’s nothing really outstanding about this film that makes it a properly entertaining watch, and although it does the job of being a light-hearted and enjoyable film that kids will enjoy, it’s by no means a Disney classic.
Let’s start on the bright side, though. The one thing that you definitely can’t deny about this movie is that it’s a short and sweet storybook tale that adds a fun twist to the story of Robin Hood. Whilst the folklore is full of grit and violence within its historical context, this film does a great job of mixing the details of the legend with a story that’s a lot more family-friendly, and a lot more open to lots of good jokes here and there.
What’s more is that portraying all of the characters as animals adds another level of sweetness to the movie. The animals match their characters very well, with a cunning fox as Robin Hood, a nasty lion as King John and many more, but it’s another way to retain the content of the legend of Robin Hood and yet make it a pleasant and light-hearted story. Rather than humans fighting each other for power and freedom, it’s a lot more fun and innocuous if a range of colourful animals do it, and that works really well here.
Another plus in this film is the voice performances. Although some aren’t quite spectacular, and a little too reminiscent of The Jungle Book, the likes of Brian Bedford as the charismatic Robin Hood, Peter Ustinov as King John, and even Roger Miller as the slightly out-of-place American rooster narrator, all do a great job to make their characters great fun to watch from start to finish.
However, I just wasn’t so enchanted by this film. There are loads of classic and modern Disney animations that take classic fairytales and folklore and turn them into entertaining, magical and memorable family movies, but Robin Hood just doesn’t manage that in the same way.
To a degree, the film is hurt by a somewhat uninteresting story. The balance between family-friendly action and the actual legend of Robin Hood is good, but the overall plot is incredibly simplistic and predictable from the start, with little real intrigue or excitement to make you really care about the eventual outcome of the story.
What’s more is that the film lacks any real Disney magic. Apart from the animation, this feels a little too much like an old man sitting down and reading a storybook, and given that there are no great musical numbers nor particularly memorable moments of heart and emotion, Robin Hood just can’t compete with the greatest Disney movies of all, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2 overall.