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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Princess Bride: SE
Princess Bride: SE
MGM // PG // September 4, 2001
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 3, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

(film review written July, 2000)
"The Princess Bride" is director Rob Reiner's popular comic fable, made years before recent lackluster fare like "The Story Of Us". The story is a relatively simple one, but the details in the dialogue and situations are what make the film fun.

"The Princess Bride" starts off as a grandfather is telling his nephew a story about a princess named Buttercup(Robin Wright) who falls in love with a farm boy named Westley(Cary Elwes). Of course, she is kidnapped by evil, and he is not far behind. But the film doesn't end there, and reveals itself as a fun parody of these kind of movies. Westley faces many villians, and in the middle of their battles, they chat humorously about their predictaments, almost making fun of the situations with smart and witty dialogue.

That smart dialogue is what keeps the talky film from becoming slow - the film is written by William Goldman, who has adapted it from his own novel. Reiner's direction as well as the performances have a perfect idea of how to play the material, and the result is a film that's both exciting and hilarious.


The DVD

VIDEO: The original presentation of "Princess Bride" came out last year and was presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen by MGM. That failure is remedied here with MGM's new anamorphic transfer. The new edition is an improvement over the previous release, but still encounters some minor problems of its own. Although the film does have a rather soft appearance, this new edition does provide a crisper and more well-defined image overall.

Some minor print flaws do remain - a couple of speckles and the occasional mark appear now and then, but don't cause any real distraction, nor was there anything but minor wear. Edge enhancement does unfortunately become visible at times, as does a trace or two of pixelation. Some darker scenes also seem lightly grainy.

Colors still came across quite well, though. Although there are certain scenes that certainly don't use a bright color palette, most sequences offered bright, lively colors that looked clean and well-saturated. Flesh tones appeared accurate and natural, as well. Overall, this still has some flaws, but it's an improvement over the previous non-anamorphic edition.

SOUND: Although this is Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound is really quite minimal; the score sounds impressively clear and clean, but other than the score and dialogue, there isn't a whole lot going on. Surround use is pretty subtle at most and usually, surrounds simply remain silent. Dialogue is clear and easily understood. The general quality of the audio is pleasing, but don't expect anything agressive.


MENUS:: Both the main and sub-menus contain lovely animation, as well as funny transitions between menus.

EXTRAS::

Commentaries: This is a commentary from director Rob Reiner and, he actually talks! For those who haven't listened to the director's previous tracks, Reiner has provided many commentaries where he hardly speaks. This is especially evident in his tracks for "A Few Good Men" and "When Harry Met Sally", where he commented for about 25-30% of the movie, leaving large gaps of silence. During this picture though, Reiner is seemingly able to recall more information about what went on during the making of the lower-budget (16m) picture. There's several interesting stories offered, as well as some insight into the story and information about the production. The director still does leave some gaps of silence now and then during the track, but he's much more talkative than previous commentaries he's offered.

The other commentary is from writer William Goldman, who admits as the picture opens that he hasn't seen the picture since its opening. As a result, the commentary does have some noticable pauses where Goldman either doesn't provide any information, or he gets caught up in watching the film. The writer does offer some tidbits about the history of the project, such as the fact that Norman Jewison was once going to be the director of the picture, for example. Although the writer doesn't provide a constant commentary, he does bring his own viewpoint and some interesting insights to the table. Both commentaries included are not some of the best that I've heard recently and some may occasionally tire of the space between comments, but fans will definitely find a few gems. It would have been nice if both were combined for one track, though.

As You Wish: This is a new documentary that runs about thirty minutes and contains a wealth of new interviews with Goldman, Reiner, Elwes, Wright, Fred Savage and others. The documentary has the group remembering stories from the set while Reiner and Goldman discuss issues such as casting and screenplay. The documentary is a bit "clip-heavy" at times, but overall, we get a fine amount of details about the making of the picture and a few fun stories.

Cary Elwes Video Documentary: This is a simple, 3 1/2 minute montage of clips that the actor shot on the set. Amusing, but not something I'd think that many will want to watch more than once.

Featurettes: Nor do I think that these will be items that will be good for more than one viewing, but I do appreciate their inclusion. Two featurettes from the time of the film's production are included. They're promotional and simply go over the story once again and provide a few behind-the-scenes clips.

Also: Photo Gallery (88 Photos), TV Spots, Theatrical Trailer, Foreign Trailer.

Final Thoughts: "Princess Bride" is still a smart, funny and entertaining picture that holds up very well years later. The special edition DVD, which has been a long time coming, is very nice, but not stunning. Both commentary tracks do add some insight and offer some interesting information, but the rest of the features don't really add much to the experience. Image quality is improved, though, and sound quality remains pleasant. Fans will certainly want to pick up this new edition.

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