A big-budget version of the Robin Hood myth which begins when Robin (Kevin Costner) returns from the Crusades, accompanied by a Moorish companion, to find his father dead, having been accused of devil worship. Vowing revenge, Robin soon finds himself with a price on his head and joins the oppressed peasantry in battle with the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman).
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
reinvented the legend for contemporary cinema audiences, and in doing so far outstripped at the box office even Kevin Costner's own infinitely superior Dances with Wolves
to become the biggest hit of 1991. It's an entertaining enough family adventure film, but plays like a big-budget TV movie with no distinctive flair for action or romance. (Director Kevin Reynolds would reunite with Costner four years later for the equally stodgy Waterworld
). If the accents are all over the place, at least Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio makes a Maid Marion of ravishing Pre-Raphaelite beauty. Morgan Freeman is fine as Robin's Moorish sidekick, though, other than to expand the demographic, his character has no business being in the story. Realising that the whole enterprise has the credibility of a pantomime, Alan Rickman outrageously camps up his Sheriff of Nottingham, stealing the film in the process. Costner makes an acceptable hero, though he will never replace Errol Flynn in the definitive The Adventures of Robin Hood
If you can accept explosives in 13th-century England, that the approach to Sherwood Forest is a modern conifer plantation and that the 170 miles from Dover to Nottingham is a matter of a few hours ride via Northumberland, then you may find much to enjoy here. Otherwise an already overlong film has been extended to an excessive 148 minutes in this special edition, making far too much of a not very good thing.
On the DVD: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is presented as a two-disc set, with a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that is generally good looking but with an occasionally soft picture and some evidence of dirt and minor print damage. The Dolby Digital 5.1 remix of the original stereo soundtrack is atmospheric and powerful and shows off Michael Kamen's score to its best. Though presented with 12 minutes of footage not seen in the cinema version, the film still suffers most of the cuts (amounting to 28 seconds) imposed by the BBFC over the years.
The main extras are a pair of commentaries: Costner and Reynolds discuss the film in frank and enthusiastic detail, while on a second track Freeman, Slater, writer/producer Pen Densham and cowriter/producer John Watson offer a great deal of insight plus a fair bit of stating the obvious, backslapping and critic bashing. Robin Hood: The Myth, the Man, the Movie (31 mins) is a cut version of a 45-minute TV special originally broadcast in America the night before the premiere, and offers an interesting if brief look at the Robin Hood story plus some routine making-of material. Finally, there is a video of Bryan Adams performing "Everything I Do, I Do It for You" live at Slane Castle and 18 minutes worth of bland electronic presskit-style archive interviews with Costner, Freeman, Mastrantonio, Slater and Alan Rickman, plus the original American trailer, a stills gallery and cast and crew list. --Gary S Dalkin
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.