Action – not legend – shoots 2018 “Robin Hood” over the moon
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 2018; PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive references; streaming via Amazon Prime (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), iTunes (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube
Best extra: Seven-part making-of
WELL, the 2018 “Robin Hood,” starring Taron Egerton as Robin of Loxley and Jamie Foxx as his Moorish mentor Yahya/John, is nothing like your parent’s Robin Hood.
Or your grandparents or anyone else’s. It’s a first time experience for Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, making their film writing debut, and director Otto Bathurst (“Peaky Blinders,” “Black Mirror”), who swings from TV to the big screen. There’s so many changes to the original story – Marian (Eve Hewson) is no “Maid” here, she’s a thief, not a lady of the court; Robin, veteran of the Crusades, is trained by who used to be Little John (Foxx); battles become contemporary warfare; the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) stands in for Donald Trump; Will Scarlet (Jaimie Doman), Robin’s kinsman, is … different.
Let’s say only the names remain the same. Mostly.
“Clearly this guy, this mythical character was, in my mind, this kind of full-bore militarized, anarchist, truth-seeker, justice fighter. Basically, he was a major thorn in the side of government, organization, king, religion – whatever was oppressing or subjugating or abusing the people at that time, or causing the inequality or the injustice of that time.” – Director Otto Bathurst, “The Legend Reborn: Origins”
Rottentomatoes.com gave “Robin Hood” 2018 an amazing 15 percent, with audiences ranking it at 43. So there are some that like it, and that makes sense. Those who loved the 1938 film starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone – the closest to the original legend and book by Howard Pyle – couldn’t stand the 1991 version with Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman, a favorite for many who grew up in the ‘90s. There have been dozens of interpretations for the big screen and small. Each has it fans. So will this.
Still, very little of the original remains. Bathurst reboots Sherwood’s medieval setting to modern day including attitudes, customs, clothing and warfare. The Sheriff wears a fake blue suit, and scenes recreate the look of Assassin’s Creed. Robin still tries to right the wrongs visited on the poor and marginalized, while stealing and redistributing the One-Percenters’ wealth. He longs to put an end to political and religious corruption. Like Bruce Wayne, he hides his Batman behind a dim, party-hearty Locksley and while Batman becomes the Hood.
The strain to be relevant is awkwardly obvious; we never lose ourselves in the story. And this is only the beginning. Bathurst, Egerton of the “Kingsman” films, and Foxx of “Ray” and “Django Unchained,” hope their “Robin Hood” is the first of many sequels.
IMDB reports “the set and costume designers were instructed to make everything one-third historically correct, one-third contemporary, and one- third futuristic to achieve the movie’s unique look.” Lionsgate Films provides an excellent 2160p transfer (2.40:1) with impressive color, depth and detail. It was shot at 8K and mastered 4K with Dolby Vision. Naturally, this is a serious uptick from the enjoyable Blu-ray. Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ provide natural shadings, highlights and fluctuation in color throughout from costumes to complexions, from sets to locations. “Robin Hood” was digitally filmed in Croatia and Hungary.
An eight-channel Dolby Atmos and default Dolby HD surround delivers a very active soundtrack throughout the room. Battle sequences and crowd scenes make the most of height speakers. Dialogue is crystal clear. Joseph Trapanese of “The Greatest Showman,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Oblivion,” has written a classic orchestral score. “I’m a huge fan of creating modern sounding scores that are contemporary that are interesting, but also classic at the same time,” he says in “Rockin’ Robin: The Music.”
There are no period instruments. Bass and percussive elements soar from shivers to thunder, strings from sweet to mysterious. It’s worth a separate purchase.
“The score … was one area where we really could have gone off beat and could have gone for a really, really rock ‘n roll thing. And I just felt like that was what would’ve been a step too far,” Director Bathurst says.
A seven-part documentary, “Outlaws and Auteurs: Reshaping Robin Hood,” includes “The Legend Reborn: Origins,” “Who’s Behind the Mask? – Casting,” “Taking Aim: Action & Training,” “Nottingham Anew: Design,” “Donning the Hood: Costumes,” “Rockin’ Robin: Music,” and “Seeing The Forest for the Trees: The Future.” It’s quite detailed with interviews from filmmakers and cast.
There are also outtakes and six deleted scenes.
— Kay Reynolds