I will admit it here and now: I’ve never seen Princess Bride prior to this review. Granted the movie is as old as I am so I didn’t exactly grow up with it like many others did, but whenever someone would quote the film or reference it, I was always lost and then the gasps and shocked looks would follow when they learned I hadn’t seen the film. Having now seen it I can say it definitely lived up to the hype, which is a real rarity for a film from the late 80s…for me, anyway. To this day I don’t like the Terminator films, which may be about as shocking as me never seeing this film.
Buttercup and Westley fell madly in love but when he left to make a life for himself so he could be a proper husband; word came back to Buttercup that Westley was dead. Distraught, she became engaged to Prince Humperdinck, but not before being captured by thieves trying to make the already tense relationship between Florin and Guilder erupt in an all out war. Despite the best attempts at keeping her captured, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and Turk Fezzik (André the Giant) succumb to the skill, might and brains of a masked man known as the Dread Pirate—the same one that killed Westley.
At one point or another I’m sure I saw bits and pieces of The Princess Bride, but I certainly didn’t remember much past the opening scenes with the little boy and his grandfather. While this was my first full viewing of it, I had a smile on my face the entire time—it is really just a great move to watch and one that’ll have you enthralled from end to end. It’s rare for a film to have such staying power, but The Princess Bride effortlessly moves about the paces and, even with its interruptions by the young boy and his grandfather, which also help inform the viewers of what is happening, as well as making room for some humorous anecdotes by the grandfather.
Perhaps it was just because of Cary Elwes, but this film really reminded me a lot of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Not simply because it had him in it, but the love story and overall mixture of fantasy and humor just made it easy to compare the two. Men in Tights was certainly more slapstick and less subtle with its humor, but The Princess Bride certainly made me laugh more than I had initially expected.
As with a lot of films that are ten or twenty years old, it’s difficult to review them with any real great critical eye. For the fact that the film held up this well after twenty years is a true testament to the writing and directing that this film received. If there is anyone out there reading this that are like me and hadn’t seen the film yet, then do yourself a favor and do so—while some of the special effects didn’t age so well, the story is timeless and so are the characters. Highly Recommended.
For a movie I’d never seen, it seems there were plenty of DVD releases that afforded me the chances on more than one occasion. To date this is the fourth DVD release since the onslaught of the DVD format and easily one of the weakest releases. Although the casing is fantastic, with the ambigram cover and nice booklet inside, the DVD comes almost entirely stripped of all of the good special features on past releases and instead has three new featurettes that don’t amount to a whole lot in their place.
Menus for the DVD are simple and easy to navigate and the video transfer is remarkable. I’ve only the second MGM DVD release to compare this to in terms of video and audio, but this release is easily superior. A full anamorphic transfer and a deep 5.1 mix that brings to life the swamp sequence in the film make for a superb technical aspect. Also included is an English Dolby Surround, Spanish Mono and French Dolby Surround tracks and all are accompanied by English, Spanish and French subtitles.
Moving onto the extras we have a quick trio of featurettes, the first is “Princess Bride: The Untold Tales Featurette” (9:05) which includes the cast and crew recounting tales on the set of the film as well as their favorite elements and quotes of it. “The Art of Fencing” (7:07) focuses on the sword fighting in the film, though this is a rather odd extra to have as the fencing really wasn’t that big of a part of the film, just one of the characters. “Fairy Tales and the Folklore” (9:14) talks about the longevity that fairy tales have, as well as the films “fractured fairytale” aspect, which allows it to be like a lot of fairy tales while remaining original and quirky in its own right.
An incomplete “True Love and High Adventure: The Official Princess Bride DVD Game” that is apparently still in production makes for an awkward final extra and nothing that’s really any fun to play and is the final extra on the set.
This was certainly a curious release, as it seems to serve no purpose other than to use the fancy ambigram cover and throw on some previously unreleased featurettes. After looking at the extras on the previous Dread Pirate/Buttercup editions (both are the same two-disc release, just different covers and titles), it’s clear that this 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is in no way worth purchasing. The included booklet that tells two different stories of the film is a neat extra, but honestly there isn’t enough here to warrant another purchase of the film on DVD—it’s a shame to waste such a cool cover on a weak DVD release. If they would’ve at least included the commentaries I would’ve been a bit happier.
Overall this DVD release can be Skipped. If you don’t own the film on DVD yet, then pick up the previous two-disc release, although they appear to be out of print at this point.
The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition is now available on DVD.