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The Princess Bride
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin,
Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre The
Special Appearances by Peter Falk and Billy Crystal (plus
Screenplay by William Goldman
Based upon his book
Directed by Rob Reiner
Retail Price: $29.98
Features: Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Rob
Reiner, Audio Commentary with Writer William Goldman, "As
You Wish" documentary, Cary Elwes Video Diary, 1987
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, 1987 Featurette, Four TV
Spots, Theatrical Trailer, Foreign Trailer, Collectible
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1 Surround, Spanish Mono, English Closed Captions,
English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,
Scene Selections (28 Scenes)
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my
father. Prepare to die."
It took nearly fifteen years for "The Princess Bride" to
come to the silver screen, and many argue it was worth the
wait. William Goldman, an Oscar® winning writer, wrote
the book and also wrote the screenplay for the movie. After
so much shifting and problems, the movie finally got off the
ground with Reiner at the helm (though a week before the
shoot they weren't sure if they had money or not, thankfully
it worked out). While the movie was not a tremendous success
financially, it has become a big favorite for kids and
adults during the past few years. After releasing a
lackluster DVD the first time around for "The Princess
Bride", MGM re-releases it and the results are much, much
better this time around.
The story of "The Princess Bride" is of Buttercup (a
young Robin Wright Penn) who falls in love with her farm
boy, Westley. However, one day Westley leaves Buttercup to
seek some fortune so he can provide for his lover. However,
he never returns when word comes he's been captured by the
pirate Roberts. So, a few years pass and Buttercup is about
to marry Prince Humperdinck. Of course, she really doesn't
love him. Buttercup gets kidnapped, and in return, is
rescued by a mysterious man... who of course, is Westley.
But it's not all that easy. I don't want to spoil the movie,
but a lot of things happen as Westley becomes friends with
the kidnappers, Buttercup needs to be rescued again and evil
must be stopped so they can all live happily ever after. And
with all this, it's a story being told by a grandfather to
For some reason, I don't know why, this movie ranks as an
all time favorite for my generation. It is a really popular
movie that just seems to gain more and more of an audience,
all thanks to the magic of video. "The Princess Bride" is a
new classic of sorts, as it captures the magic of a fairy
tale with its own twists. This movie just appeals to people
for one reason ore another, and it seems fairy tale rips
have becoming more and more popular (i.e. the recent major
success of "Shrek"). Why I don't think it's worked its way
into popular culture completely, there's no denying a lot of
people do recognize it and instantly recall characters,
lines and whatnot. Despite all this, I think this movie is
vastly overrated. It's not a bad movie by any means, not at
all. I just don't see why so many people love this movie to
death. Is it because of child fascination with fairy tales?
The characters and events? I don't know. People just find
this movie so magical and enjoyable. What I like about this
movie is how it works on two levels. Kids will enjoy the
story and characters, while adults are more likely to enjoy
the movie based on the satire it brings and humor that will
fly over the kiddies' heads.
William Goldman's script, based on his book, is probably
why I think this movie is overrated. I never read the book,
but with his script he crams a lot and creates a beautiful
fairy tale world. The character development is very good
(not to mention the very interesting characters), and he
establishes things nicely. I mentioned the humor before, and
that's great, while the dialogue is sharp. Despite the
zaniness, he puts together good themes and morals as well.
Yet I guess what I didn't like about it is how some portions
lack a good build-up, that they need a bit more strength
rather than relying on comic humor. The movie, to me, feels
a bit uneven. I guess I was looking for more adventure and
tension in this. Still, despite why I think it's flawed,
it's a very good script.
Rob Reiner offers up good direction for his third film.
He has good shots and sets this movie at a very good pace,
it just keeps moving and goes very, very fast. The editing
in this movie is good so you get a nice glimpse of what's
going on. Mark Knopfler's score is really, really beautiful.
It perfectly captures the whole idea and measure of a fairy
tale world. He uses good instruments and it sounds lovely.
It's catchy and perfectly fitting. It's just a perfect blend
that goes hand in hand with the film. It's magical and
brings a lot to the movie in the end.
The acting here is brilliant, to say the least. It really
brings the film to life and gives it a strong punch because
the actors have s much enthusiasm and make the roles
believable, like this world actually does exist. Cary Elwes
is charming as Westley, while he shares good chemistry with
Robin Wright as Buttercup, who is very good herself with the
vulnerability and certain strength she brings. The late
Andre The Giant is good too. Wallace Shawn is hilarious and
fun like usual, and it's too bad there wasn't more of him.
Christopher Guest and Chris Sarandon bring a good sense of
evil and wit to their roles, while Mandy Patinkin shows so
much range and really stands out. Special appearances by a
pre-"Wonder Years" Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Carol Kane and
Billy Crystal are wonderful. Overall, some great comedic and
strong acting is within this film.
"The Princess Bride" will probably just get bigger over
time as it has founds an audience who will spread the movie
with their children, and in return their children's children
and so forth. While I thought there could have been more to
the story, there is a lot to like about this movie. Good
writing, good directing and acting that's a good fit. If you
still haven't seen it, this new special edition DVD edition
from MGM is a very good excuse to check it out.
A lot of people were disappointed with the original
release of the movie by MGM. Despite the fact there were
hardly any supplements, the movie was presented in
non-anamorphic widescreen. Well, now it's all okay as MGM
has served up a terrific anamorphic widescreen transfer
(aspect ratio of 1.85:1) that makes it pop off the screen.
It is a little soft at times and you can see some grain, but
overall, it's the best shape I've ever seen the movie in.
Colors and fleshtones are well saturated, while detail and
blacks are very good. Blemishes, nicks and scratches appear
on the print somewhat often, but they never become too
distracting. Overall, this is a pretty fine image.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 English track for "The Princess
Bride" suits the film well, but it's nothing spectacular and
I was a little unsatisfied, as I was expecting a little bit
more. Still, the main draw for me was Mark Knopfler's score.
I think the score is incredible (as I mentioned before), and
it sounds particularly nice and soothing through the
channels. There are some particularly good effects,
including the the torture sequence and a lot of sword
fighting, not to mention the whole big rat-thing fight.
Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, it doesn't sound muffled
and other sounds don't interfere with it. .1 LFE extension
is nothing too special, but in the end I felt the surrounds
could have been a bit stronger, considering the many
action-oriented noises. Still, it's a good mix for what it
Sweet! MGM has once again created another fantastic
special edition for one of their movies. There's a lot of
great stuff on this disc that I really enjoyed, and is a
prime example of how special editions that aren't crammed
with so much should be. There's a lot on the making of, a
lot of information and a good deal of promotional materials.
So let's get started...
The new As You Wish documentary is really
wonderful and a great inclusion to the package. It features
the usual array of behind the scenes footage, film clips but
the main draw here are the brand new interviews, as it takes
a good look back at the movie and brings a good perspective
to everything. New interviews with Rob Reiner, William
Goldman, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Cary Elwes, Fred
Savage, Mandy Patinkin and Robin Wright-Penn are included.
They look back at the making of the movie, how it took a bit
to make, how Reiner got the job, Andre The Giant, fairy
tales and the overall impact the movie has had, going from
average box office to cult video status. This is a good
watch, but overall I felt there could have been a more depth
to this documentary and that it could have been longer.
Still, it's a nice and enjoyable look back fans of the movie
should check out.
There are two brand new audio commentaries in this
package, which I was glad to see and help give more insight
on the movie. The Audio Commentary with Director and
Producer Rob Reiner, is well, pretty good. Reiner has
come under attack before with his audio commentaries as
people have criticized his comments lacking insight and the
many moments of silence. This was the first Reiner
commentary I have ever listened to if you must know, and I
enjoyed it. There are gaps of silence here and there, but
they never last too long. Reiner's comments are never
entirely screen specific, but it seems like he loved making
the movie and looks back at it very fondly. He remembers
shooting locations, events and annoyances that happened
during the movie's production. I will admit I found it a
little boring at times, but overall, there's some good
stories here about making the movie, as he does offer a lot
of praise too. Still, a lot of his comments can be found in
interviews on the extras on this DVD, not to mention from
the really, really nice Collectible Booklet included
with the DVD.
The second Audio Commentary with Writer William
Goldman is quite good and also a good listen that I
suggest fans of the movie should check out, even if it's not
totally specific to what's going on screen. It's the first
time Goldman is watching the movie since the original
release. Goldman is talkative, very honest, relaxed and
brings a lot of information to this track. He discusses the
differences between the novel and the screenplay, tells
light-hearted stories and offers a lot of praise too. Yet
the key thing here is that he talks a lot about how
Hollywood can be a bit BS at times, and successful movies as
well as finding an audience. While I enjoyed his insight and
perspective, there are quite a few times where you'll hear
dead air on the commentary, I guess Goldman just gets
wrapped up in the movie. Still, it's pretty interesting.
The Cary Elwes Video Diary is an interesting mix
of video footage Elwes shot while making the movie. There's
a variety of stuff to be found here, and all the footage is
accompanied by Elwes' narration about what's going on and
some background. As we see footage of fencing practice, Rob
Reiner, Andre The Giant, make-up and all sorts of things
Elwes talks about the people instead of what's going on
screen directly. Fun, though pretty short.
The 1987 "The Making Of The Princess Bride"
Featurette isn't so promotional, and though it only
lasts a few minutes, it's an interesting watch as far as
more of what happened behind the camera. It has
behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the movie and
interviews with Reiner, Goldman, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane
and a few others including the stunt coordinator and
production designer. It also has things on the makeup. A
The 1987 Featurette is pure Fox theatrical EPK
material. Clips from the movie, behind-the-scenes footage
and in all, a more promotional feel. Interviews with Reiner,
Wallace Shawn (YES!), Mandy Patakin, Carol Kane, Billy
Crystal and some others are on this featurette. It's short,
but in all, a decent though fluffy watch.
There's a Photo Gallery with eighty-eight photos
in total and divided up into the following sections: "True
Love", "Buttercup - Robin Wright Penn", "The Sicilian, The
Spaniard & The Giant Turk", "The Villains", "Miracle Max
- Billy Crystal", "The Grandfather - Peter Falk", "Rob
Reiner", "Behind The Scenes", "Special F/X" and "Poster
Art", that one including a poster even in Hebrew. Very nice
and cool photos to look at all around.
The disc also includes four TV Spots (good ones
too!), the Theatrical Trailer in full frame and the
Foreign Trailer that does have its fair share of
spoilers. It is also in full frame.
Kudos to MGM for once again revisiting an old title that
wasn't so spectacular the first time around. "The Princess
Bride" deserves this kind of treatment, and the package in
total is pretty stellar. While MGM hasn't gotten things
right the first time around, it's good to see them going
back and making amends. Even if you own the original
edition, this one is worth picking up for the spiffy new
transfer and fantastic supplements alone.
(3.5/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)