Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button

Feature


When Princess Buttercup - lovelorn after the loss of her beloved sweetheart Westley - is kidnapped by cunning crook Vizzini and his sidekicks Fezzik the Giant and swordsman Inigo, she is confident her one true love will come to save her... This family fairytale will touch your heart, tickle your funny bone and leave you feeling happily ever after. The Princess Bride is a must-watch for fans of storytelling of any age. (Taken from the PR.)

I have to admit that, while I saw The Princess Bride a number of times as a kid, I've never been a particularly huge fan. Yes I know, I run the risk of finding myself expelled from the Internet 80s nostalgia community, but to be perfectly honest the film just doesn't elicit the same emotions as features like Star Wars, Tron, Wargames, Gremlins, The Goonies, or other favourites. With that said, I actually enjoyed it a lot more watching it as an adult, particularly the action (there's some really impressive swordplay) and the humour, which treads the fine line between adult innuendo and kid-friendly comedy with ease. There are also some great visual gags, such as the Rodents of Unusual Size. It also helps that everyone involved is taking things seriously, rather than camping it up with a nod and a wink. It may not be one of my personal favourites, but I can see why there's so much love for the film. This 25th Anniversary Edition offers everything afforded by the previous Blu-ray release and more, so surely it's a fan's dream?

Video


I must confess that I have never seen the original BD release of The Princess Bride, so I had to do a little research for this one. From what I can tell the US disc from Fox /MGMlooks extremely nice, but the previous UK release reportedly had a much lower bitrate encode and possibly some DNR. Well, looking at this disc it would seem that is the case, and that the same encode has been used this time around. While the 1.85:1 (1080/24p AVC) image is competent, providing a revealing level of detail and a strong colour palette, there are issues. The entire film occupies just over 22GB of disc space (as opposed to the 30GB+ of the US disc) and as such there are compression artefacts to be found. Grain is a lot clumpier than I would like, which in turn robs the image of some of the finer detail that you know could be there (and indeed is there on the US disc). I can't say for certain that noise reduction has been applied, because grain is present. I would imagine the softer look is due to the heavier compression, but either way it's noticeable during normal viewing and especially when looking at things up close. (Please note I'm not talking about the inherent softness in a number of shots, as that's part of the original photography.)

Comparing other aspects of the image, such as the colour palette and brightness, also reveals subtle differences, with the UK disc having a darker appearance overall (to the point of crush in some scenes). Even so, colour is still one of most pleasing things about the presentation, as it retains a largely natural appearance typical of films of the period. It is the sort of look that lovers of contemporary cinema might find a little dull and lifeless, but I'm glad the colours haven't been pushed too far towards the warmer end of the spectrum (as has been the case with some recent catalogue titles), although some of the flesh tones do look a little too red from time to time (far more so than examples I've seen from the US disc). Truth be told I'm a little conflicted here. The reduced bitrate and minor alterations to the palette are detrimental to the overall quality of the release, but it still looked pretty good in motion so I can't complain too much. Having said that I think it would be remiss of me not to reflect the issues in the scoring, especially now that I've seen how filmic the Fox/MGM effort is.

Audio


The disc includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds more like a 4.1 track at times, but it's befitting of an eighties movie such as The Princess Bride. At no point did it sound like I was listening to a modern production, but that's part of the charm and I'd rather that from a catalogue release than some sort of reworked nightmare. Fidelity obviously isn't as good as a modern feature, but there are no issues with intelligibility despite some of the dialogue sounding a little hollow. Directionality across the front of the soundstage is there, but as I alluded to earlier the rears don't really have a tremendous amount to do bar the odd spot effect and allowing the score room to breathe. Bass is surprisingly powerful though, with at least a few furniture rattling moments to be found. It could leave those familiar with the sort of multi-directional, bombastic tracks associated with today's fantasy-action films feeling a little short-changed, but I for one am perfectly happy with what's on offer here.

Extras


Now this is how you do an Anniversary Edition: include all of the previously available bonus material along with the new content. Owners of the previous release may find themselves feeling a little aggrieved that much of the material found here is replicated from that disc, but newcomers will be delighted for the very same reasons. For me there's nothing worse than buying a 'special' or 'anniversary' edition only to discover that you also need to buy the older release to get your hands on all of the bonus content. The extras themselves are a fantastic mix of vintage behind-the-scenes featurettes and contemporary interviews with the cast, audio commentaries, and just about every type of promotional material you could desire. Anyway, here's a brief breakdown of what you can expect to find on the disc:

  • True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon: A Conversation with Rob Reiner, Cary Elwes, and Robin Wright
  • True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon: Entering the Zeitgeist
  • The Art of Fencing
  • Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas
  • Miraculous Makeup
  • Princess Bride: The Untold Tales
  • Fairytales and Folklore
  • Love is like a Storybook
  • Commentary by Director Rob Reiner
  • Commentary by Author William Goldman
  • As You Wish – Documentary
  • 1987 Original Featurette
  • 1987 Making of Featurette
  • Cary Elwes On Set Video
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • International Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Photo Gallery

Overall


I'm not entirely convinced of the need for this 25th Anniversary release, given that the vast majority of fans will almost certainly have picked up the older disc, but at least Lionsgate has thought to include some new bonus content. The audio-visual aspects of the release are fairly pleasing, but the unnecessary 'tweaks' to the colours and brightness, coupled with the compression issues, render this disc inferior to the US Fox/MGM effort. Just when will people learn that unmolested presentations are infinitely superior to those with noise reduction and colour 'enhancements'? Unfortunately the US disc is region-locked, so the only way the majority of UK fans are going to get their hands on an HD version of the film is with one of the two Lionsgate releases, both of which share the same visual properties. It's not a deal-breaker, but it does take the shine off of an otherwise very pleasing disc.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The
 Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition, The


Links: