The Princess Bride

  • Title:  The Princess Bride
  • Director:  Rob Reiner
  • Date:  1987
  • Studio:  MGM
  • Genre:  Adventure, Romance, Comedy
  • Cast:  Cary Elwes, Robin Wright,  Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Peter Cook, Andre-the-Giant
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“You fell victim to one of the classic blunders.  The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia.  But slightly less well known is this – never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”  — Vizzini

“We’ll never survive [in the Fire Swamp].”  —  Buttercup, the Princess Bride
“Nonsense, you’re only saying that because no one ever has.” — Westley

“You know how much I love watching you work – but I’ve got my country’s five hundredth anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Gilder to frame for it.  I’m swamped.” — Prince Humperdinck

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite films of all time.  It’s a film I actually owned a copy of on VHS, then replaced with a DVD.  I absolutely adore this film — it’s smart, fun, intelligent and chock full of fun and quotable lines.  The film actually has two storylines — the frame story of a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the story of The Princess Bride to his grandson (Fred Savage) who is home sick.  The growing relationship between grandson and grandfather adds a sweetness to the film, as does the young boy’s growing interest in the story.  The main storyline, though, is the story of Westley and Buttercup, two young lovers separated by fate who simply must end-up together.  However, what prevents the story from sinking into typical romantic comedy is the intelligent, witty dialogue and the simply gorgeous cinematography.  The film pulls itself together in such a way that it just works incredibly well.  It’s also shot in a very storybook style, which ranges from castles with interiors that obviously look like sets, to some simply wonderful sunsets, and some great scenery when Buttercup and Westley first meet again. (The wide shots of the castles are no doubt real ones in Ireland and England where parts of the film were shot).

This film also has some wonderful sword fights.  The fight between Westley and Inigo Montoya is wonderful! I really enjoy it every time I watch the film.  But there’s also some wonderful fight scenes between Montoya and the evil Count Rugen.

Overall, the film is just enjoyable.  Simply enjoyable.  It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s romantic.  The good guys are good because they treat other people nicely and well, and the bad guys – Vizzini, Count Rugen, and Prince Humperdinck are bad guys in part because they treat other people terribly.  Humperdinck’s motivation is also to start a war between Florin (his country and home to Buttercup) and neighboring Guilder.  And a bit of wordplay with the names of  the country as well – Florin and Guilder are two coins in a former Netherlands currency.  Florin is also the name of an old two-shilling coin in the UK that’s no longer in use.

If by some chance you haven’t seen this movie, it’s an absolutely must-see.

Recommendation:  See it!  Also good for all ages without being overly sweet.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  The Producers

Alien Nation

Title: Alien Nation
Director: Graham Baker
Date: 1988
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: SF / Police Drama
Actors: James Caan, Mandy Patinkin
Format: Color, Widescreen
DVD Format: NTSC, R1

The 1980s saw a lot of unusual cop buddy movies – Alien Nation takes that idea and gives it a Science Fiction twist – with a human cop working with an alien cop to solve his own partner’s murder. They actually start on another case together, but, it is, of course, linked to the partner’s death. However, halfway through the film, the plot turns away from a very interesting social commentary to a search for an alien super-narcotic that looks like Era detergent. This isn’t a case of effects no longer working because of the age of the film — it looked like Era when the film was made. And there’s even a line where a human tastes the drug and says – “It tastes like detergent.”

Overall, Alien Nation is one of several movies I could name where the TV show was much better. Made a year after the movie – the television series re-cast the leads, expanded the characters of George’s family, and even introduced a potential Newcomer girlfriend for Matt. It also focused on social issues (such as an alien/Newcomer voting rights bill) as well as contemporary police stories.

However, the movie isn’t all that bad — it’s a great idea, that works better in a series format than a movie. I actually really liked Mandy Patinkin’s “Sam Francisco” (quickly re-named “George” by Matt). The movie hits hard in telling a story about racism before the drug storyline takes over. Plus, there’s a killer scene at the end that’s wonderful. I enjoyed the film when I saw it, enjoyed the TV series even more, and got a copy of the movie on DVD for free when I bought the TV Series from Amazon (or was it Deep Discount — whatever). Anyway, the movie still works as a cop drama, it doesn’t look that dated.

Recommendations:  See it, but buy the TV series.
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  All That Jazz