Quantcast

The Princess Bride – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Terminator 2, Predator, the Evil Dead films, Die Hard; some movies are just regularly given new home media releases. The Princess Bride is most certainly one of them. However, this time audiences can bring home Rob Reiner’s classic romantic adventure on a brand-new Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection. Brought out of the depths of the laserdisc era, Criterion’s updated release of this modern classic looks and sounds better than ever, with plenty of extras to go with it. It would be inconceivable to think the film wouldn’t earn such a great release anyway, but it’s always nice to see this sort of thing be delivered upon. Now would you like to learn more about this latest release? As you wish…

a

Film:

Note: For the sake of this Criterion Collection review, I will put up some new thoughts on the film. However read my previous review of the film, find my review of the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release HERE.

For the uninitiated, The Princess Bride tells the story of an innocent woman, Buttercup (Robin Wright), being pushed to marry the nefarious Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon), while Buttercup’s one true love, Westley (Cary Elwes), does all he can to win her back. Meanwhile, a good-natured giant (Andre the Giant), and a vengeance-seeking swashbuckler (Mandy Patinkin) find themselves involved as well. There’re also mysterious pirates, an evil six-fingered man, rodents of unusual size, and Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as a couple of miracle workers. This fantasy-adventure has it all.

There’s only so much more I can say about this wonderful film at this point. The story within the story is such a wonderful adventure tale, as well as a romantic one. Using the narrative device of Peter Falk playing a kind grandfather reading to his sick grandson (Fred Savage) only makes it stronger. I was admittedly late to the game with The Princess Bride, seeing it for the first time in full while still in college (nearly 20 years after it was initially in theaters), yet it is hard not to fall under its spell. The film is a joy to watch, with such a great whimsical tone that’s it’s hard to think of the ways it wouldn’t work for some.

Sure, I suppose a cynical viewer could point to the film’s leisurely pace, or even go after the admittedly not-too-flashy direction from Reiner, but I feel the continued praise for this film is more than just nostalgia-driven admiration. It comes down to the construction of the characters, the actors involved, and, of course, William Goldman’s script. It’s one thing to have the film deliver one of the best sword fights ever seen in movies; it’s another to have a lot of investment in both characters involved, especially after the fact.

With a secure legacy thanks to both critical regard (the film was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2016) and the massive fanbase that continues to grow, The Princess Bride really doesn’t need me to sell its quality. The movie continues to stand the test of time, even more so than other 80s fantasy flicks with a cult audience attached to it. With terrific performances, a fantastic script, and many exciting, memorable, and funny moments, The Princess Bride provides the whole package for all audiences.


Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Details: This new 4K digital transfer was created in 16-bit resolution on a Northlight film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Deluxe in Burbank, California, and restored using the 1997 Criterion laserdisc master, supervised and approved by associate producer Steve Nicolaides.

Clarity/Detail: Wow! Given the numerous releases on different formats, it is very easy to see just how much improvement there is between those older releases and this one. I may have chided Reiner’s direction a bit, but this new look at the film shows off just how great-looking his efforts were to bring a magical story to life. There’s a wonderful level of bright clarity to be found, particularly in the outdoor daylight sequences, that helps to show off this film in all its glory. Some great close-ups reveal a strong level of detail to further take in when considering the production values as well.

Depth: A proper handle on character spacing keeps the image from ever feeling flat. The camera does its job in enough sequences to lay out the scenes accordingly (think the sword fight), so one has a proper look at the depth of field for various scenes. It certainly helps in allowing the film to achieve a strong sense of dimensionality.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep, with no sign of crush. It is sometimes quite striking, given the use of color when thinking of the different methods to capture a sense of reality and the mildly fantastical.

Color Reproduction: Amazing! The color reproduction for this film is basically perfect. The beautiful use of colors throughout means taking in even more of the detail present and seeing just how rich this production is.

Flesh Tones: The actors all look great with this presentation. With so many close-ups, you can easily get a sense of what makes up the looks of everyone onscreen. It’s a great balance.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing to note.

Audio:

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: There isn’t much new to report here, but the film does indeed sound great. Consistently clear and stable.

Low-Frequency Extension: The score and moments of horses galloping allow for some pushes on the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: Terrific balance all around here.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds clean and clear, which is great for such a quotable film.

 

Extras:

With a mix of new and archival special features, there is plenty to admire about the supplements on this new release, as you can learn all you would want to about the making of The Princess Bride and the film’s legacy. I will note the packaging, as the disc comes in a case modeled to resemble an old storybook, complete with an illustrated clothbound cover to add to this fun idea.

Features Include:

  • Commentary – From 1996, featuring director Rob Reiner, screenwriter William Goldman, producer Andrew Scheinman, and actors Billy Crystal and Peter Falk.
  • Audiobook – Edited 1987 audiobook reading of Goldman’s novel by Reiner.
  • True Love (HD, 14:59) – A 2012-produced featurette featuring Rob Reiner, Cary Elwes, and Robin Wright. The trio discusses the film’s success and their time filming it.
  • Pure Enchantment (HD, 17:17) – Professor Loren-Paul Caplin discusses the qualities of William Goldman’s novel and screenplay for the film.
  • The Tapestry (HD, 6:26) – This feature examines the tapestries Goldman commissioned from artist Carol Burland for the film. An interesting look.
  • Making of the Film
    • 1. As You Wish (HD upscale, 28:00)
    • 2. The Princess Bride: The Untold Story (HD upscale, 19:00)
    • 3. Fairy-Tale Reality (HD upscale, 12:00)
    • 4. Miraculous Makeup (HD upscale, 12:00)
    • 5. Behind the Scenes – A series of production videos, which each feature an audio commentary recorded in 1996.
      • On the High Seas – Commentary by producer Andrew Scheinman (HD upscale, 4:00)
      • Fezzik, Vizzini, and Buttercup – Commentary by Billy Crystal (HD upscale, 5:00)
      • Westley and Fezzik – Commentary by Scheinman (HD upscale, 5:00)
      • Miracle Max’s Hut – Commentary by Crystal (HD upscale, 3:00)
      • Buttercup, the King, and the Queen – Commentary by Rob Reiner (HD upscale, 3:00)
    • 6. Cary Elwes Video Diary (HD upscale, 4:00) – Vintage footage shot by Elwes during production, with commentary by Elwes and Robin Wright.
  • The Art of Fencing (HD upscale, 8:00) – Hollywood sword-master Robert Goodwin discusses everything that went into the big sword fight scene.
  • Fairy Tales & Folklore (HD upscale, 10:00) – Scholar Jack Zipes discusses the themes and admiration for fairy tales, and that relation to The Princess Bride.
  • Publicity Materials (HD) – Vintage trailers and TV spots for the film.
  • PLUS – An essay by author Sloane Crosley and Goldman’s introduction to his Princess Bride script from his collection Four Screenplays.

  

Summary:

This is the ultimate package when it comes to releases of The Princess Bride. A 4K release may be the inevitable next step, but between this current transfer, the bountiful set of extras, and, of course, the film itself, there’s nothing to not like about all that is presented here. Seeing The Criterion Collection put together a storybook-style packaging only sweetens the deal when it comes to this irresistible film.

Order Your Copy Here:

Share

Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “The Princess Bride – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Kiara

    My brother owns about four copies of this movie, he’d love this