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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Princess Bride

October 25th, 2012

The Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

The 25th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride came out on Blu-ray at the beginning of the month, and since then three more versions have been released. I'm joking, but I do have a point. This film has been released on the home market more times than I can remember. It's not even the first time it has been released on Blu-ray. So is this edition worth picking up if you didn't grab it the first time? Is it worth the upgrade?

The Movie

Do I need to describe the plot to this movie? While it wasn't a major hit in theaters, it has become a classic on the home market and it is one best-known movies made in the past 25 years. I think at this point, it's more important to go over the extras, especially the new extras, to determine if it is worth the double-dip more than if the movie is worth owning. It is worth owning. That part is not in doubt.

But first a quick recap of the film's plot. The movie begins in the real world with a sick boy, grandson, being visited by his Grandfather. The grandfather has come to read his grandson a book. That book is The Princess Bride. It tells the story of Buttercup who grew up on a farm in Florin and whose only companion was the farm boy, Westley. At first, she just bossed him around, but the two eventually fell in love. Since Westley was poor, he had to leave to farm to make his fortune before he could marry. Sadly, his ship was attacked by Dread Pirate Roberts and he was killed.

Five years later, Buttercup has entered an arranged marriage with Prince Humperdinck, but she doesn't love him. She still loves Westley. This becomes moot when she meets Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik, who are not simple circus performers as Vizzini claims. They kidnap her as part of Vizzini's plan to start a war between Florin and Guilder, although Inigo and Fezzik were not aware of these plans, or that they will have to kill Buttercup to carry them out. Vizzini thinks it's the perfect plan, but throughout the night, as they sail to Guilder to enact the second part of their plan, a strange ship follows them. When they get to the Cliffs of Insanity, the lone sailor, a masked man, follows them up the rope Vizzini set up for Fezzik. Even when Vizzini cuts the rope, he doesn't fall.

Who is this masked man? And why is he following them? It doesn't matter to Vizzini, who orders Inigo Montoya to kill him. However, this masked man turns out to be remarkably hard to kill.

I love this movie. This is one of the best fantasy films ever made. It combines adventure, humor, romance, etc. in near perfect proportions. If I were to chose one word to describe the film, it would be, "Charming". I own the film on DVD, twice, and have seen it at least a dozen times, maybe two or three dozen times. So what makes it so great? First of all, it's an excellent story. The setup that we are watching a grandfather read a book to his grandson is not just a gimmick, as it adds a lot to the proceedings. The interaction between those two characters adds to the humor, and the drama, of many parts of the film. The acting is great, especially Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya. That character could have easily carried a film of his own. It also helps that he has so many quotable lines. In fact, the movie is filled with quotable lines. There are many great action scenes, including the sword fight between Inigo Montoya and the masked man.

On the downside, some of the special effects have not aged very well. However, that's really the only downside here.

The Extras

Normally I don't talk about the menus, because there's usually nothing really to talk about. However, in this case, you see Fezzik climbing the rope carrying the whole group and when he reaches the top, the Dread Pirate Roberts appears at the bottom. It's a small touch, but a very fun one. The only other new extra for this edition of the Blu-ray is a 30-minute, two-part retrospective. The first part has Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, and Rob Reiner sitting down to talk about their memories of making the film. The second part deals with how the movie has entered our collective memories.

All of the old extras are there, including two audio commentary tracks, one with Rob Reiner and the other with William Goldman, the original author / screenwriter. There are also eight featurettes ranging in length from just a few minutes to nearly 30 minutes. They range from making of featurettes, retrospective, to looks at swordsmanship, to fairytales in general. There's a lot here.

The Blu-ray looks surprisingly good for a film that cost just $16 million to make 25 years ago. The colors are bright, the level of detail is good, although there are some scenes that are a little soft. (There are also a few special effects that look that age even more in high definition, but you can't fault the transfer for that.) There are no compression issues, but there are a couple places where there a very minor signs of digital manipulation, but nothing really noticeable. The audio is solid with very clear dialogue, plus there's good directionality, separation. The surround sound speakers are put to good use, but it is not an overwhelmingly active track.

As for the price, right now on, it costs just $10, which is a great deal, even if there were no additional extras.

The Verdict

If you don't have The Princess Bride on Blu-ray yet, then the 25th Anniversary Edition is absolutely worth owning. If you already have it, I'm not sure $10 is worth it for 30 minutes of additional extras. It's not a bad deal and it doesn't feel like a cash grab, especially since a lot of people who love this film probably didn't have a Blu-ray player when it first came out on High Definition.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, Peter Falk, Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin, Rob Reiner, Chris Sarandon, Fred Savage, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright