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MGM Studios DVD presents
The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition (1987)

Prince Humperdinck: Surrender!
Westley: You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept.

- Chris Sarandon, Cary Elwes

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: November 14, 2007

Stars: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Chris Sarandon
Other Stars: Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Mel Smith, Peter Cook, Anne Dyson, Margery Mason
Director: Rob Reiner

MPAA Rating: PG for (swordplay and some scenes of danger)
Run Time: 01h:38m:15s
Release Date: November 13, 2007
UPC: 027616092199
Genre: fantasy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B+B+ C

DVD Review

The following is Rich Rosell’s original review of a prior DVD release:

“Rob Reiner is responsible for two of my most-watched films of the past twenty years: This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and The Princess Bride (1987). Unlike This Is Spinal Tap's slightly older demographic, The Princess Bride is that cinematic oddity that appeals as strongly to children as it does to adults. It is a perfectly charming fantasy tale, with enough action to satisfy the boys, enough romance to satisfy the girls, and more than enough clever humor to completely win over everyone else. Based on author William Goldman's 1973 book of the same name, The Princess Bride is a winner all the way around.

The story begins with a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the title book to his somewhat reluctant young grandson (a very young Fred Savage). The grandson's concerns about it being a "kissing book" are soon put to rest as the story unfolds. The Princess Bride, as narrated by the grandfather, tells of the beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright), and her unspoken love for strapping young farm hand Westley (Cary Elwes). After finally pledging their undying love to each other, Westley sets sail to make his way in the world, only to be killed (off screen, during the narration) by the dread pirate Roberts.

Flash forward a few years and Buttercup is slated to marry the slimy Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Still grieving for her lost love Westley, Buttercup is suddenly kidnapped by a trio of bandits, led by a wonderfully caustic Sicilian con man named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn). His two henchmen are Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), a master swordsman with his own agenda, and a hulking gentle giant named Fessik (Andre the Giant).

The Princess Bride barrels along magically, all the while hurling a memorable array of bizarre characters (an albino dungeon master) and unusual situations (the Cliffs of Insanity) out like confetti. I will admit to not having read Goldman's original book, but his sharp screenplay is full of some incredibly quotable dialogue.

"You mean you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword and we'll kill each other like civilized people?"

The glue that really holds everything together is the flawless casting. The more times I see The Princess Bride, the harder it is for me to imagine anyone else filling these wonderful roles. As the most beautiful woman in all the land, Robin Wright seems the perfect choice as Buttercup. With a lilting British accent, Wright captures the character of the love struck princess. Elwes is perfect as the dashing Westley, and he plays him to a tee, with the matinee confidence of a young Errol Flynn. As Inigo, Patinkin tosses his heavy Spanish accent around convincingly, and his sword-fighting skills are first rate, to boot. Shawn's Vizzini almost steals the film with some of the best lines, and his battle of wits sequence with the dread pirate Roberts is a piece of timeless comedy. Without boring you too much more with my rambling exultations, rest assured that the rest of the key players (Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Andre The Giant, Billy Crystal) all carry their weight solidly, as well. For a film that so deftly dances between humor and drama, it is the seemingly perfect cast of The Princess Bride that makes this film pure magic.

Over the years, Rob Reiner has proven himself be a very talented filmmaker. Who would have thought Meathead had it in him? Sure, he laid an egg with North, but as a rule his career as director is full of popular, mass appeal titles. Stand By Me. When Harry Met Sally. Misery. A Few Good Men. With The Princess Bride, Reiner has helmed what has become a sort of cult classic, and like This Is Spinal Tap, has assembled a film that is a total pleasure to watch. Over and over and over.”

Rich’s enthusiastic review covers nearly all the reasons that I enjoy The Princess Bride—a rare film that equally charms kids and adults. It had been many years since I’d viewed this movie, and its wit and cleverness remain strong today. However, a few areas feel slightly less appealing than I remembered them. Wallace Shawn’s Vizzini is a memorable character, but he also seems more grating this time. The story moves at a rapid pace, but the second half includes a few noticeable lulls prior to the final charge to the castle. My response could relate to the film’s prominence in pop culture, with references to it appearing constantly. When friends and acquaintances are routinely quoting the film, it slightly lessens the overall enjoyment of the movie. Regardless, this fantasy tale deserves serious acclaim for offering cheerful entertainment 20 years after its initial release. Elwes, Wright, Pantinkin and Andre the Giant still bring a smile to your face, and the smaller roles are almost perfectly cast. If you know someone who hasn’t seen The Princess Bride, this might be the time to pull a Peter Falk, take a sick day and schedule a viewing.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The Princess Bride appears in a consistent 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that fails to diminish the story's magic. The colors are generally bright and sharp, which helps to present the many exterior scenes effectively. The images do fall below reference quality and could have used an extra polish, but these are minor quibbles with this attractive transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanishyes
DS 2.0English, Frenchno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The score from Mark Knopfler is a pivotal element of this film's success, and the enjoyable music works nicely on this 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer. The witty dialogue is clear, and the sound effects spring well from the entire sound field. This release also includes a Dolby Surround track (in English and French) that offers a less-powerful, but still acceptable presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. True Love and High Adventure: The Official Princess Bride DVD Game
Extras Review: This 20th Anniversary Edition includes a few nice extras that weren't included in the Special Edition, but they pale in comparison to the previous version. There is no commentary this time, and all the featurettes are very brief. If the last edition wasn't enough for you, this will provide more details, but it doesn't offer much as a strand-alone product. The Princess Bride: The Untold Tales includes warm recollections about the production from Robin Wright, Fred Savage, Mandy Patinkin and others. They cover the on-set fun, Andre the Giant, and some favorite quotes during the engaging nine-minute feature. The Art of Fencing gives a seven-minute look at the weapons and techniques used in the picture. Robert Goodwin, sword master in Los Angeles, speaks about what makes a good fighter and presents a few smooth moves.

Arguably the best entry is Fairy Tales and Folklore—a nine-minute discussion of how the film takes elements from a variety of fairy tales. Several experts cover their importance and why the stories still work today. We also hear about classic motifs used in The Princess Bride to deliver an effective tale. The only groan-inducing extra is True Love and High Adventure: The Official Princess Bride DVD Game, which is only designed for very small kids. The animation is extremely clunky, and the tasks are very easy. The activities include answering Fezzik's rhymes, punching some eels, and navigating through the water. Winners are directed to the game's website for some type of prize. While I'm obviously not the target audience for this feature, it's still sad to view such a lame inclusion.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

This 20th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride is a completely unnecessary release and appears designed to grab even more money from its devoted fans. If you’re looking to add this film to your collection, I would choose the 2001 Special Edition, which offers an excellent group of extra features not found on this release. This inferior new version is recommended for completists only.

 


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