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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Retro Review: The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride
Cast: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Andre The Giant, Christopher Guest, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Billy Crystal
Genre: Romantic Comedy Fantasy Adventure
U.S Box Office Gross: over $30 million 

Plot: While home sick in bed, a young boy's grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride

''Well, Excuse Me, Princess''

Film Four aired The Princess Bride on TV for the first time; come to think of it, but for say Sky, I don't think this ever aired on free-to-air channels before in the UK. Unlike a lot of people, I didn't grow up with this film, well being 6 years old going to the cinema was something I never did at the time, although in watching this on TV today, it definitely has that cult factor going for it. 

It is a take on the classic fairy tale with some added humour, fantasy, romance and adventure - if only it was made a lot more accessible and it was easier to get into and digest. 

Buttercup falls in love with a young farm guy, only to lose him and finds herself kidnapped and captured by the evil Prince of the region, who grooms her as his bride. A Spanish swordsman, a friendly giant and a mysterious man in a mask reminiscent somewhat of Zorro is on their trail, as well as that of Buttercup's

Cary Elwes was charming and almost flawless as the dashing and handsome prince, oozing charisma with an infectious turn. Andre the Giant was a good addition, although I wished I'd seen more of him, the bizarro cameo of Billy Crystal, unrecognisable underneath the prosthetics, was amusing and it's not often he is as funny as was in this movie than he is in his other flicks. Some of the lines he had uttered made me laugh at times. I realise not a lot of people enjoyed his turn and what some have called hackneyed Jewish jokes, but I thought that he livened up the movie a tiny bit. 

Robin Wright has become one of my favourite lesser-known actresses of late and watching her turn here, she nails the British accent to a tee; however, performance-wise goes, I much prefer her turns in Forrest Gump and even Toys than as Princess Buttercup. Here, she fared okay, but her character wasn't much to ponder, in all honesty, and but for a couple of lines uttered, she did almost little of worth. There was little in the way of development and come to the end of the film, it felt like Buttercup was the same person as she was before

I also thought the film could have done without the grandfather and his son telling the story and reading it to him as a bedtime story. This, in particular, affected my enjoyment of this film, amongst its pacing issues, which whilst it is under 2 hours long, it felt like a 4-hour movie. It also didn't help that The Princess Bride lacks any energy or momentum that many other fantasy adventure-based movies that were released after this one possess, to keep viewers invested in the story and its characters. 

Regarding the comedy aspect, this should have been a whole lot better and consistent as well. But seeing Peter Cook as The Impressive Clergyman and hearing his funny voice did lift my spirits. The adventure element just didn't really come to life, and I was disappointed in that. Also hearing Mandy Patinkin going, ''my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father'' is funny twice, but a couple of times, it becomes weary and almost annoying, thus losing its impact. 

I've never been a huge fan of Rob Reiner and though he has delivered better elsewhere with A Few Good Men, his direction, as a whole, leaves a lot to be desired. In the capable hands of perhaps Robert Zemeckis, Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton even, they would have injected a lot more life and energy that The Princess Bride needed and could do a lot more of. 

Final Verdict:

The Princess Bride is not too bad as a whole, and it was watchable in places but at times, it feels all too safe and when the end credits rolled, I thought to myself that it is best remembered as a cult classic, but also a film that should have amounted to a whole lot more. I think that had this been made and released in the early 1990s, I'd feel a lot more positive towards The Princess Bride, as by then, it would have and probably turned out far better as well. 

What was considered groundbreaking back in 1987, it feels today as something that I, in fact, ought to have ended up loving a great deal. 


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