Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

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Released 1-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Featurette
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 99:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mel Brooks
Studio
Distributor
Columbia Tristar F/D
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Cary Elwes
Richard Lewis
Roger Rees
Amy Yasbeck
Dave Chappelle
Isaac Hayes
Tracey Ullman
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $24.95 Music Hummie Mann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Italian
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, anyone for pumps?
Action In or After Credits Yes, the credits start to roll over closing dialogue.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1991 there was a hugely successful Kevin Costner movie that was based (albeit loosely) upon the legend of Robin Hood. It gave birth to a certain Bryan Adams song that went on to become the most successful single in Australian chart history. That movie was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This movie is the spoof.

    The spoof genre does not have a happy history, producing more misses than hits. Robin Hood: Men In Tights is one of the success stories. The major factor in the success of Men In Tights is the casting of Cary Elwes as Robin Hood, and the writing of Mel Brooks. Elwes is the perfect swash-buckling hero, as he showed in The Princess Bride, and he plays the role to perfection here. The support cast are also very good, with Richard Lewis (looking uncannily like Mel Gibson) as the evil Prince John and Roger Reese doing a very good Alan Rickman as the delightfully bumbling Sheriff of Rottingham. Amy Yasbeck as Maid Marian falls somewhat flat (she just look too American), but as her role is not overly large the impact is reduced.

    I think there are very few people who do not know the story of Robin Hood. For those that do not, the plot, such as it is, revolves around Robin of Loxley attempting to wrest his family's lands, good name, and all of England back from the usurping Prince John and his lackey, the Sheriff of Notting(Rotting)ham. There is very little in the way of actual story to Men In Tights, instead just a sequence of jokes poking fun at Kevin Costner in particular, Prince Of Thieves in general, and the entire Robin Hood mythology just for completeness. There are many hilarious moments in this movie, my personal favourite being the "Men In Tights" song and dance. My one criticism of the movie is that the individual comic sequences are somewhat disjointed, seeming more like a series of sketches than a whole movie. While this certainly effects the comic momentum, it is not a huge problem as most sequences stand well enough on their own. People who like spoofs will love this movie (it is far superior to most recent Leslie Nielsen efforts), but you do have to be prepared for a very silly experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is one of the most variable transfers I have seen, alternating between almost unwatchable and quite good.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    As I mentioned, this is a very variable transfer, and it is most apparent in sharpness. While at times the image is clear and crisp (such as 18:29-18:39) showing good detail, especially on foregrounds, there are other occasions (such as 9:48-11:07) when the image simply becomes a blur of grain and it is all but impossible to make out any detail, let alone fine detail. For the most part, the transfer manages to keep the grain in check, but it is always a threatening presence. Shadow detail is quite good, with darker sequences showing a nice amount of depth. There is no low-level noise present in this transfer.

    Colour is another variable aspect of this transfer. The majority of the transfer displays very nice colour, with deep rich blacks, and good highlights. The greens of the fields around Robin's castle are especially good, as is the wonderfully lit, sumptuous, meeting between the Sheriff of Rottingham and Don Giovanni (56:11-60:33). On occasion however, there is a vast change to drab colouring with no highlights showing at all. The worst offender here is the sequence from 9:42-11:51, although to be fair this is hampered by location filming on what is clearly an overcast day.

    Apart from pixelization caused by the heavy grain in places, there is little in the way of MPEG artefacts. This pixelization cannot be ignored when it is present however, and easily removes the viewer from the movie to pay attention to it. Aliasing is also an occasional problem, but that is not a real surprise in a movie that deals with arrows. An example of this is at 76:58 where the "Patriot Arrow" more closely resembles a series of slits than an arrow. Fortunately, the occurrences are not frequent and do not overly effect enjoyment of the movie. There is a small amount of wobble visible during the opening and closing credits, but again, it does not effect the movie itself. Film artefacts are a frequent, although not constant, problem. For the most part, these are small and not distracting. Some sequences, however, such as 4:06-4:11 are noticeably quite bad.

    Subtitles are generally quite good, only occasionally dropping a word when a lot is said in a short period. Even better is that the "Men In Tights" dance is subtitled 100% accurately - now we can all learn the lyrics and sing it to long-suffering friends!

    This is a single sided, single layer disc and hence has no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a very good audio transfer, providing what is required for this type of movie.

    There are three soundtracks on this disc, being the original English dialogue and dubs in German and Italian. All three sound-tracks are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded and with the surround flag set.

    Dialogue was clear throughout the presentation and there was never a problem with understanding the words.

    Audio sync was generally good, although during song sequences there were some noticeable problems. However, as the singing was dubbed in from other performers, this is to be expected.

    The score is provided by Hummie Mann and is fairly stereotypical for the spoof genre, being greatly exaggerated in its following of conventions. Bad guys get low plodding brass, while the hero gets, well, heroic music. It works well within this genre, and adds somewhat to the nature of the movie. There are also a number of song (and sometimes dance) routines in the movie that are used to good comedic effect, especially the "Men In Tights" song that was written by Mel Brooks.

    The surround channel is not heavily used, but does provide support to much of the score, although at a lower level than the front channels. Surround support is also used for arrow flight, and ambient crowd noise in sequences involving many people. While not spectacular, the surround use is fairly good for a solely Pro Logic mix.

    The subwoofer is rarely called upon, but when it is (such as when Robin's family castle is towed away at 14:42), there is a good level of effect provided.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras presented here are limited and not particularly interesting.

Menu

    The menu is static, non 16x9 enhanced, and contains no audio. It is relatively easy to navigate, with the highlight being quite obvious.

Theatrical Trailer (1:35)

    This trailer is presented in 4:3, and has not survived the eight years since its release in a particularly good condition. It also shows a number of scenes that are not in the movie, which is a side-effect of the large amount of coverage usually shot for a comedy.

Featurette (5:22)

    This is just the standard promotional making of, featuring Mel Brooks telling us that he's "never had as much fun as making Men In Tights". There is nothing of real interest or value here.

Talent Profiles

    This are just promotional biographies for Mel Brooks, Cary Elwes and David Chappelle. Again, there is nothing of interest here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is not available in R1 as yet, so we obviously have the best version in that regard. As this disc is dual coded R2 and R4 I would assume that the R2 version (released the same day as ours) is the identical disc, just with different packaging.

Summary

    Robin Hood: Men In Tights is a really good spoof, but unfortunately displays some very annoying grain. At the same time however, if you are like me, you will be willing to sit through the grain just to see the "Men In Tights" dance.

    The video quality is extremely variable, ranging from clear and crisp to blurry and very grainy.

    The audio quality is good for a 2.0 surround sound track, but is all that is needed for this type of movie.

    The extras are extremely limited and are quite disappointing. They are of almost no interest at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Sunday, August 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayRCA 80cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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