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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (SE)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (SE) order
Kevin Reynolds

Kevin Costner
Alan Rickman
Morgan Freeman


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The much-maligned Kevin Costner stars as the fabled Robin Hood, scourge of the rich and champion of the poor. Returning from the Third Great Crusade to find his father murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin of Locksley takes to Sherwood Forest and plots to reclaim England in the name of King Richard the Lionheart.
Known as much for Bryan Adams' hugely successful theme song as for its own achievements, this 1991 take on the legend of Robin Hood came at the apogee of Kevin Costner's success and cemented his reputation as a big hitter at the box office in the early part of the past decade. Costner himself, despite an unfortunate and intermittent attempt at wearing a British accent, acquiesced himself quite well of the role, giving off his usual mix of charm and cocky humor, as well as an interesting combination of childlike vulnerability and ass-kicking tough guy frown. Unfortunately for Costner though, as great as he was, this was to be another man's movie. Alan Rickman, who definitely doesn't appear in enough films, stole the show from under everyone's feet with his terrifying, yet hilarious, turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, one of history's most reviled bad boys.

Cursing and spitting in anger while chewing up scene after scene, Rickman plays the quintessential medieval bad guy, with more desire for a piece of gold than for any life other than his, with the additional twist that he worships the Devil. He came to attention in North America (Rickman, not the Devil...) with his ultra cool portrayal of Hans Gruber in DIE HARD. This film is worth watching if only for him. It's worth noting that this Extended Edition has 12 additional minutes, all of which revolve around his character. Also appearing are a few names that seemed big at the time the film was shot, but that have faded considerably since: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and the officially missing Christian Slater among them, as well as Morgan Freeman, who was, at the time, only two years removed from a Best Actor nomination (DRIVING MISS DAISY) that was never parlayed into a top billing role. The same could be said of director Kevin Reynolds, who's only directed five films since 1991, including 1995's underrated fiasco (can I even say that?) WATERWORLD.

The main attraction to this film, which also boasts a romantic storyline that should please the ladies, is its non-stop action. Arrows flying, swords clashing, axes swinging, windows smashing and gallows dropping are only some of the components of this exciting ride through the middle ages. Kudos to director Reynolds for keeping it all tight and together and for minimizing the lapses in between. As an entity, ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES is a tremendously fun watch, although running a tad long at 155 minutes. With a great cast, beautiful cinematography and a dashing score by Michael Kamen, it possesses all the necessary ingredients and mixes them properly for good results. Although it can't be considered more than eye-candy, fluff, a no-brainer or whatever this type of movie is called nowadays, it remains a fun time at the movies or in this case, a fun time in front of the home theater.
There are a lot of features on this DVD but you can got through them surprisingly fast. My favorite was the option of listening to the isolated score, which I loved (it's the last, but not the least, on my listing below). Too often, these special editions cram their discs with hour upon hour of bland, re-hashed features but these go straight to the point and don't lose you in excessive details. A fine mix.


Full length audio commentary with director Kevin Reynolds and star Kevin Costner: This is a pretty interesting track (then again, I'm one of the few people who find Kevin Costner fascinating) in the sense that both men go to great lengths and to great detail to share the shooting and filmmaking experience with the viewers. There's nothing that makes it particularly extraordinary, but Costner does take to task those who constantly whine him out for making "long" movies.

Full length audio commentary with producers/co-writers Pen Densham & John Watson and stars Morgan Freeman & Christian Slater: Slater's biggest role in years, this commentary teams the notorious Hollywood bad boy with a pair of writer/producers (yawn) and Morgan Freeman, who happens to be an extremely intelligent and articulate man, but not one that you thrive to listen to on a commentary track. He has a tendency to go on with overcomplicated explanations about pedestrian points and does so more than once. Slater, on the other hand, does what you would expect of him, which is basically to sit back, make funny comments and chuckle.


Robin Hood: The Myth, The Man, The Movie (30 mins.): Hosted by Pierce Brosnan (yeah... I don't get it either), this is a two-part documentary, the first part of which explores the ambiguous fact of the existence of a real Robin Hood. With various scholars and know-it-alls chipping in, no real answers are provided, but for history buffs like myself, many questions are raised. The second part is an effective making of segment about the movie, which contains pertinent and interesting information about all aspects of it including its shoot, costumes, set design, music, etc. I have to admit that I expected something a bit more in-depth on this DVD, but I think this pretty much gave me as much as I cared to hear about, without going into minute details.

Bryan Adams performing (Everything I Do) I Do It For You live at Slane Castle in Ireland (4 mins.): I'm not a huge Bryan Adams fan, but I have nothing against the guy either. He's belted out some classics like Summer Of '69 and Run To You but also his fair share of cheese. This song really put him in the international spotlight back in 1991 and it's pretty damn good song, to tell you the truth.

One on One with the cast (20 mins.): This is a set of five interviews with the following cast members: Costner, Freeman, Slater, Mastrantonio and Rickman. They're "vintage" 1991 interviews, lasting about 4 minutes each. Decent stuff, not great, not bad.

Production Design (text): This feature contains text explanations based on "The Legend of Robin Hood", "Robin Hood in the Movies", "Why Tell The Story Again?" and "Creating 12th Century England". It's alright if you don't mind reading off a TV screen, but not a particular favorite of mine. The topics themselves are pretty neat though, especially the one about the legend of Robin Hood.

Publicity Gallery (10 mins.): The publicity gallery contains the theatrical trailer, six TV spots (in fact 2 variations each of three spots) and a photo gallery containing dozens of stills from the film and the set as well as publicity shots.

Cast & Crew (text): A set of cast bios and filmographies which are in fact more detailed than usually seen on DVD's. How much more detailed? Just a bit.

Weapons Gallery (text): Surprisingly cool, this allows you to select between five of the weapons used in the film (sword, scimitar, bow, crossbow and axe) and to learn about their functionality and history. I'm a sucker for antiquity and there were enough references to the Roman Empire in there to keep me smiling!

Michael Kamen's score in 5.1 Surround: As mentioned above, this film boasts a truly stunning soundtrack and this DVD offers you a great opportunity to listen to it in its entirety or to isolate selected themes from the movie. It's more like listening to a CD since you can't see the film while you're doing it, but the great sound quality of the track really adds to it.
This movie is great fun to watch over and over and doesn't lose its appeal quickly. Most movie fans have already seen it over the last 12 years and will be able to judge based on their own feelings whether or not they want to own this extended version, something I would highly recommend. In the event that you're just looking at catching up on a flick you loved as teenager, then maybe a Thursday night rental could do as well. Either way, you're guaranteed at least one evening of action-packed fun.
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