Another iteration of the Robin Hood story lurks on the summer movie horizon, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott. For those who like a little sci-fi injected with their period piece action, however, there’s the new-to-DVD Syfy Channel movie Beyond Sherwood Forest.
Starring Robin Dunne and Erica Durance, the film touts itself as offering up a story of danger and derring-do, of fantasy and phantasms. Twelfth century England is the backdrop, and the narrative focuses on a fairly typical, broadly defined mixture of heroism and villainy. The Sheriff of Nottingham has unleashed a hideous winged monster, a tortured forest spirit, to destroy the gentle towns and woods of England, massacre outlaw archer Robin’s men and capture his Maid Marian (Durance). The question, then, is whether the so-called Prince of Thieves (Dunne) and his gallant crew can defeat this nasty beast from another world, and save all the nearby innocent men and women.
Directed by Peter DeLuise, Beyond Sherwood Forest features the sort of special effects one would expect from a cable production, and rather clumsily presses the keys and levers of tyranny, black magic and in particular romance — the latter of which plays rather like an ironed-on patch. A capable band of supporting players (including Julian Sands, Katharine Isabelle and David Richmond-Peck) inject some underlined emotion into the proceedings, but the movie’s combination of myth and realism never really coalesces in a meaningful or clever way, or transcends its genre roots; this is basically a piece of clamorous entertainment pitched at fourth- and fifth-graders, and even then it only provides desultory, momentary, diversionary delights.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Beyond Sherwood Forest comes presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with an English language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound audio track, and optional English SDH subtitles. Bonus features include a brief behind-the-scenes featurette and the movie’s theatrical trailer. More talk about the reason for this sort of twist on the age-old story (if any, really) would have been a welcome inclusion. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) D (Disc)