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The Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Fox has already summed a lot of this up with their previous press release:  Scale the cliffs of insanity, battle rodents of unusual size, face torture in the pit of despair, and join Princess Buttercup and Westley on their spell-binding journey to find true love with The Princess Bride 25th Anniversary Blu-ray.  A classic fairy tale complete with heroes, villains, trickery, mockery and death-defying miracles,  The Princess Bride captured audiences young and old with its brilliant, memorable dialogue, enchanting story line and bewitching characters.  From celebrated director Rob Reiner and Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman comes “an enchanting fantasy” (Time) filled with adventure, romance and plenty of “good-hearted fun” (Roger Ebert).  Featuring a spectacular cast that includes Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, and Billy Crystal, this wonderful fairy tale about a Princess named Buttercup and her beloved is “a real dream of a movie” (People).  This new Blu-ray features plenty of extras, including an all new retrospective, anyone that hasn’t owned The Princess Bride already would do well to get it now.

Film:

The Princess Bride is a fairy tale come to life, as it is a story that involves a princess needing rescue, swashbuckling pirates, giants, and, of course, six-fingered men.  It starts off quite simply, as we find a grandfather (Peter Falk) actually reading this story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage).  As the actual fairy tale goes, after Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) believes her true love, Westley (Cary Elwes), to have died, she agrees to marry the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).  We soon find out, however, that Westley actually lives, now known as the Dread Pirate Roberts, and he is actively trying to rescue Buttercup, who has since been kidnapped by three outlaws (Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre the Giant).  From there, the story continues in the tradition of fun adventure stories, full of all sorts or peril, excitement, and magic.

While there may be a few people that have not seen The Princess Bride, is there anyone out there that does not like this movie?  It seems like it can at least garner a smile from practically anyone, as it is one of the most enjoyable and fun-spirited films that comes to mind, when thinking of general acceptance.  Well before Shrek came along, The Princess Bride not only served as a fine adventure tale, but one that was happy with bending the rules of the genre.  It has a lot of fun with many of the tropes seen in this sort of film, while still being very respectful.  While being incredibly funny and entertaining, it is also sincere in its portrayal of love and honor.  While taking interesting turns on how the film handles its villains, it also has one of the best sword fights every filmed.  And while I have seen the film many times, I find it to be incredibly rewatchable.

The performances go a long way in making the film work.  Along from being at a time when people found him incredibly attractive, Cary Elwes completely sells his role based on the attitude he gives Westley.  It is knowing, without winking, heroic, without being over the top, and competent in how he addresses his various ‘enemies’.  Why Elwes had to settle for being in the spoof version of a Robin Hood film (Mel Brook’s Men in Tights) and not a more authentic one (Robin Hood: Prince of Bleh) is beyond me.  Also fitting is Robin Wright, as the other half of this duo, who brings the right kind of energy to a standard ‘damsel in distress’ role.  Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant are also great in their respective roles as a marvelous sword fighter and a kind-hearted giant.  Then you have the villains of the film, all with their own qualities, with Wallace Shawn providing laughs as a Sicilian pseudo-intellectual, Christopher Guest as a ruthless, six-fingered vizier, and Chris Sarandon filling the role as detestable Prince Humperdink.  Along with cameos from many, including Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, the cast is uniformly excellent.

Director Rob Reiner’s construction of the film is plenty solid, as he captures just the right town that The Princess Bride has gone for.  Even the use of the framing device with the kid and his grandfather works well to give the movie an edge.  This came out during Reiner’s height as a director, as he was able to make this film along with Stand By Me, Misery, and A Few Good Men, among others, and it is a shame he has not been able to churn out films as good since that time.  His work here, with great help coming from his crew and screenwriter William Goldman, of course, is strong in the way he balances the humor with the adventure aspect, and even manages to inject plenty of heart into the picture.

Plenty of people most likely already have their opinion on The Princess Bride, so for those who are new, you are in for a great treat.  The movie is a joy to watch, still plays great after 25 years, and is near perfect in its construction.  The script is smart and exciting and the cast is great.  Basically, if you are new to this film, it is time to realize why the film has amassed such a great legacy over time.

Video:

So The Princess Bride has previously been released on Blu-ray, but while I will get to what is new in the special features section, what should be known is that this is the same video transfer that people have already seen for the film.  With that said, it is a solid transfer.  The 1080p transfer does a good job at presenting a film that has a very soft look to it overall, keeping the family-friendly fantasy aspect quite alive throughout.  Still, the images are sharp and the textures look nice.  The film may not have the best transfer as far as Blu-ray goes, but it still looks very good.

Audio:

Similarly, this is the same audio transfer from the previous release, but a good one as well.  The Blu-ray features a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio surround track, which does great service to a film that is mostly dialogue-driven, but still has moments where the score and/or action kicks into gear.  The balance is well-handled throughout, with the overall mixing of the film feeling like a great representation of how everything was intended to come out originally.

Extras:

This is where people may be divided.  This Blu-ray packs almost all of the features seen in previous releases (The Princess Bride is a film that has seen multiple home media releases over the decades), but also has a new two-part featurette.  How devoted fans are to this film is what will determine whether or not picking up this new Blu-ray is really necessary.

Features Include:

All New:  True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenom – Includes a reunion with Director Rob Reiner and Stars Robin Wright and Cary Elwes, New Cast Interviews with Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Chris Sarandon, and Christopher Guest, Film Tributes, Fun Parodies, and Fan Encounters.  This is the big new feature and the only problem I have with it is that it is not nearly long enough, clocking in at just 30 minutes.

Audio Commentary by Rob Reiner and an Audio Commentary by William Goldman – both of these commentary tracks are well worth listening to.

The Art of Fencing – a nice look at the construction of the famous sword fight in the film.

As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride – A retrospective seen on previous releases of the film.

Cary Elwes Video Diary

Various featurettes about different aspects of the film:

The Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Pirate of the Seven Seas

Fairy Tales and Folklore

Love is Like a Storybook

Miraculous Makeup

The Princess Bride: The Untold Tales

Summary:

This new Blu-ray is basically good for anyone that has not already purchased The Princess Bride in a previous Blu-ray incarnation.  It has some the same video and audio of the previous Blu-ray release, but a new and entertaining (albeit too short) retrospective as well.  What definitely has not changed is the movie itself, which continues to be great and a modern classic.  It is charming, funny, exciting, and always entertaining.  So those who have never seen it at all, go and pick up this Blu-ray.

Order Your Copy Here:

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com

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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.

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