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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Princess Bride Collector's Edition (RECOMMENDED)



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#1 of 9 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 03 2006 - 02:35 PM

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Collector's Edition

Note: The release has two packaging options, the "Buttercup Edition" and "Dread Pirate Edition," which focus on romance and adventure, respectively.


Release Date: June 13, 2006
Studio: MGM Studios
Year: 1987
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h38m
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic (Special Features are a mix 1.78 anamorphic and 1.33 standard)
Audio: English DD5.1, French DD2.0, Spanish DD2.0 (Special Features: English DD2.0)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English
Menus: Non-animated with menu transitions
Packaging/Materials: Single disc keepcase with cardstock slipcover
MSRP: $24.96



The Feature: 5/5
It's hard to believe – dare I say it's inconceivable – "The Princess Bride," an instant classic if ever there was, would have to rely on the second chances of the video rental market to reach an audience. But that's what it took for it to become the popular quotation source we all know and love and what some have ventured to call "The Wizard of Oz" of the 80s generation.

It is conceivable – or should I say it's understandable – the marketing department of 20th Century Fox didn't know what to do with the film, at turns a full blown fairy tale Walt Disney would have animated; at others a postmodern skewering of its ancestry. The film preceded "Shrek," a film to take much broader and more aggressive swings at fairy tales (not to mention Disney), by 14 years with a heart and wit missing from its blockbuster second cousin. Only time will tell if "Shrek" will be as beloved when it reaches twenty. I myself am doubtful.

If you've somehow managed to never see the film – don't question yourself, question your friends and family who failed to share it with (or force it on) you. Because as the film clearly models through the grandson-grandfather relationship that frames "The Princess Bride" story proper, there is no reason for the film to go unshared if there is love between people.


Video Quality: 4/5
The two-disc edition shows a noticeable improvement in picture quality from the 2001 release. The picture has been cleaned of dust and dirt specks and is sharper than its predecessor. The new transfer is also brighter, displaying more pleasing contrast range and color saturation (the 2001 transfer had an underexposed quality that made me want to fiddle with my display's brightness setting). Some might miss the saturated colors of the previous release, but I suspect the more muted tones of the new transfer are accurate, given the similar look of other films from that time. Some minor edge enhancement is present (though only visible in moments with the most extreme contrast), with occasional softness and lack of detail in wide angle shots. Black levels are good overall, though a bit muddy in the darkest of scenes.


Audio Quality: 4/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is primarily fronts/center-focused, with surround channels providing subtle support with the film score and some environmental effects. Though at times it is difficult to understand Andre the Giant, this has more to do with his thick accent than the audio quality, given the rest of the dialogue is clear and intelligible. The audio track serves its purpose with few bells and whistles.


Special Features (Packaging): 4/5
Eight-page "Fezzik's Guide to Florin" Booklet: A printed celebration of the film, designed as tourist literature, displaying some of the wit and charm of the movie.


Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5
On loading, the disc gives viewers two menu theme options – one focused on romance, the other on adventure – continuing the idea behind the separate "Buttercup" and "Dread Pirate" editions, but keeping it to one disc regardless of the consumer's packaging preference (I was sent the "Buttercup Edition").

  • Audio commentary by Director Rob Reiner: Carried over from the previous release, Reiner provides a thorough and engaging series of anecdotes around the development and production of the film. The commentary slows down a bit as the film progresses, but remains interesting.

  • Audio commentary by Writer William Goldman: Carried over from the previous release, Goldman provides perspective on seeing his work languish in development for over 10 years and finally seeing it come to fruition. He is clearly quite pleased with the results, sometimes getting caught up in watching the film. Nevertheless he offers some interesting insights into the screenplay and the struggles writers sometimes face in the film industry.

  • Photo Gallery: Contains over 80 production and promotional stills, separated into the following groups: "Behind the Scenes;" "Poster Art;" "Special Effects;" "Rob Reiner;" "Buttercup;" "Westley;" "True Love;" "Vizzin, Fezzik and Inigo;" "The Villians;" "Miracle Max;" "The Grandpa"



Special Features (Disc 2): 3/5

  • "Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas" Historical Analysis (11m43s): A tongue-in-cheek examination of whether Roberts was based on Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts, a pirate operating in the 1720s. Viewers may be confused about the seriousness of the piece until the appearance of Professor E.L. Rawscey, a pirate expert from Britain (hint: his name is an anagram).

  • "As You Wish: The Story of the Princess Bride" Documentary (27m17s): Carried over from the previous edition, cast and crew talk about the film's development and production. The documentary also includes a nice tribute to Andre the Giant, who passed away in 1993.

  • "Love Is Like A Storybook Story" Featurette (16m43s): Documentary on how "The Princess Bride" fits the fairy tale archetype. There are no revelations here, but anyone wanting thoughts from university professors of literature won't be disappointed.

  • Cary Elwes's Home Movies (3m56s): Carried over from the previous edition, Elwes provides running commentary over some home video footage he took during production. Perhaps the most interesting part is he needs to explain how to operate the video camera.

  • "Miraculous Make-Up" Featurette (11m22s): Billy Crystal and Make-Up Artist Peter Montagna talk about what went into creating the Miracle Max character.

  • Original 1987 Featurette (8m00s): A video press release covering all the important talking points, carried over from the previous release.

  • Vintage Making-Of Documentary (6m55s): Provides basic information about development and production, carried over from the previous release.

  • "The Quotable Battle of Wits" Trivia Game: Answer 10 multiple-choice questions about the film. Unfortunately getting all the answers correct is the only reward.

  • TV Spots (2m34s)

  • Original Theatrical Trailer (2m33s)

  • International Trailer (2m20s)

  • Previews: "The Pink Panther Film Collection," "The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection," "Pink Panther (2006)," "Fun with Dick and Jane," "The Premiere Capra DVD Collection"



Recap and Final Thoughts

The Feature: 5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features (Packaging): 4/5
Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5
Special Features (Disc 2): 3/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

With the improved picture quality and decent special features, this is worth a double dip. But with the impending launch of Blu-Ray and the film's 20th anniversary next year, some fans may want to hold off for the inevitable. For anyone who does not own the film already, this is a no-brainer. Recommended.



Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.
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#2 of 9 ChrisBEA

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Posted June 03 2006 - 03:30 PM

Wow, a third release? Didn't see this coming...
I may upgrade, love the film, and only have the original disk.

#3 of 9 Cameron Yee

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Posted June 03 2006 - 04:21 PM

I'm almost embarrassed to say I'd forgotten what a great film it is. And maybe it's because I'm older now, but Patinkin's lead up to and delivery of "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!" is especially poignant.
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#4 of 9 Peter Overduin

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Posted June 04 2006 - 09:47 AM

Inconcievably...I didn't see this one coming either, but it's one of the greatest sleeper titles of all time. It would be hard to think of any movie that does more to entertain any age group in such an intelligent way. Will definietely be picking this one up!
Peter

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#5 of 9 Jack _Webster

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Posted June 04 2006 - 10:49 AM

There's not a very good reason for me to upgrade, since I'm pretty happy with the previous edition - but...I probably will anyway. I love the film so much, and even the smallest improvement in PQ is enough to convince me. Posted Image

#6 of 9 John Alderson

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Posted June 04 2006 - 12:20 PM

I held off on the previous one, since I had just bought the non-anamorphic one about a month prior (without knowing a new one was coming, darn it). But now it's been long enough I think I may double dip. I love this movie. Thanks for the review.

#7 of 9 JohnRice

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Posted June 04 2006 - 12:43 PM

I won't be getting the new edition, since I have the SE and already sold the original and moved up to that. I did decided to give it a spin due to this review though. What a great flick.

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#8 of 9 Mark Walker

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Posted June 05 2006 - 06:28 AM

Funny enough, if the picture quality is as good as the last, and it doesn't have motion menus, that is reason enough for me to upgrade.

mw

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#9 of 9 joshEH

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Posted June 05 2006 - 09:25 AM

Been living off the Criterion laserdisc for years now, and for some unknown reason have never even gotten arsed to picking up the SE for $10 at my local Best Buy, but I will be grabbing this new edition. You'd think I'd've traded up long ago, but I'm utterly at a loss to offer an excuse. Sometimes waiting forever can be A Damn Good Thing.

Too bad, though, that they couldn't have incorporated the novel-reading Rob Reiner performed for the Criterion release (a nifty track, timed appropriately with relevant scenes from the film), as well as edited segments from the Billy Crystal/Peter Falk/Andrew Scheinman commentary. C'mon, guys -- Criterion's more than willing to license out these days. Loosen up the purse strings.

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