Friday, February 24, 2017

RockOtaku Reviews: The Princess Bride (1987)

Hello degenerates, heathens, weirdos, deviants, rebels, and defected Imperial officers.  I am the Rock Otaku, and I’m here to show you worlds such as hard rock, metal, punk, alternative rock, movies, TV, anime, video games, and anything that makes us scream, shout, and travel the Fire Swamp.

Today, I review a movie that I’ve recently seen that both fits my interests alongside my standards of high-octane, high-caliber blockbusters: The Princess Bride (1987)

Yes, you heard that right.  This is a review of the movie The Princess Bride.  Why am I reviewing this?  Why should I care?  I mean, I am a rock and metal loving otaku with more of an interest in being awesome and rocking out.  So why should I care about romance?  Because February’s almost over, and I did a blog on my top Disney couples 2 weeks ago.  There is no excuse for me not to talk about something romantic.

And boy, this movie is a romantic one.  It’s also an action-packed one.  It’s also a funny movie.  It’s also a guide on how to master fencing, wrestling, battles of wits, surviving swamps of fire, loaded with flame geysers, lightning sand, and R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual size), dealing with those who are mostly dead, and finally “to the pain.”  In short, if you watch this movie, either you’ll develop a crush on Cary Elwes, a desire to be him, or even both.  Same with Robin Wright, unless you already have the same feelings for her thanks to Forrest Gump.

But if you disagree, then that’s fine.  Good luck on the comments, as I would guess that you’ll end up dealing with this movie’s quotable lines being echoed below.

Now for the plot.  This story is about the romance between Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her beloved Westley (Cary Elwes), a farmboy who goes out to sea for enough fortune for the wedding of the two.  Unfortunately, he’s attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and she ends up courted by Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) into marriage with him.  Then she’s kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and his two henchmen Fezzik (Andre the Giant) and Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), in an effort to cause a war between Florin (the kingdom the movie’s mostly set in) and Guilder.  Along the way is a man in black (guess who), a six-fingered man (Christopher Guest) who murdered Inigo’s father, screeching eels, the fire swamp, a pit of despair, and Miracle Max (Billy Crystal).  If you’re wondering how this correlates with love, either you’ll need to see the movie to find out or you already did (I will not have major spoilers if you didn’t, though I will discuss a few lines).

What do I think of all this?  I like it.  Everything ultimately fits together, the flow is great, I do get the sense that each scene was worth putting in the movie from a story perspective, and the humor is well executed.  Each character is distinctive, memorable, and each have great moments, like…
…any moment involving the man in black/Dread Pirate Roberts/Westley being a badass, like sword fighting with Inigo Montoya (who’s put all his effort in his revenge against the six-fingered man, Count Rugen, right down to knowing what he’ll say when they finally meet), wrestling Fezzik (why else would you cast Andre the Giant), and his battle of wits with Vizzini.  Also a great character is Inigo, whose Spanish origins, plight, desires, skills with the sword, and overall personality all add up to a very entertaining character, and all these traits are shown in one great line:
What do you think about that?

All the others are memorable too, like Vizzini with his personality and how he’s responsible for how we say “Inconceivable!” when we’re dealing with things we don’t.  Then you have Fezzik being the muscle-head that doesn’t need a lot of words to be fun or engaging.  Plus the other characters like the albino, the priest in the end, and Miracle Max, easily one of the funniest characters in the movie alongside his wife (Carol Kane at some of her funniest).  As for the villains, Humperdinck and Rugen, they are a good mix of slimy, sinister, and just outright funny, as Chris Sarandon plays a methodical, sinister prince who never does anything right by Buttercup and is kind of a wimp when you get down to his plans and personality.  And Rugen, while not a standout villain, has some great moment with Christopher Guest doing well as a slimy, pain-obsessed count with an abnormality with his right hand.

As for Buttercup, the titular character, she could arguably be the weakest character in the story, being more of a MacGuffin than a truly-developed character.  Everything seems to be driven by her beauty rather than her personality, despite some entertaining moments due to it.  Plus, she’s also has moments where she comes off as an idiot and/or the damsel in distress, then there are moments where she shows some intelligence.  What that says to me is that she’s an inconsistent character in many places, and there are moments where she feels like a trophy for Westley and Humperdinck than a human being.  Shame, really, because Robin Wright manages to act well against the awesomeness that is Cary Elwes in arguably his defining role (so much that this may have convinced him to play Robin Hood in his spoof of the mythos and that crappy Kevin Costner movie).  Finally, she nowhere near as interesting or funny as the rest of the cast (and arguably her funniest moments are where she does something that causes an amusing reaction from another character).

But arguably the two most important character are the Grandfather reading the story and the Grandson hearing it and getting interested.  This is how the film is framed: as a story being told in a family tradition passed on generation after generation, and will likely be passed on as the grandson does get more interested as it goes on, like we do.  And it’s sort of a meta-contextual narrative about telling this, let’s face it, undeniably girly story between a father figure and a young man, as if the masculine moments and elements like the fighting, fencing, adventure, and humor helps us get sucked into the more romantic parts of the story.  And Peter Falk and Fred Savage do a great job on this front, especially when the movie cuts out of the story and back to them.

But for the story and how it’s told, the technical elements are great.  The camerawork is fluid, easy to follow, and very crisp.  The combination of actual scenery and sets is also integrated perfectly.  Some of the effects may be noticeably 80s, but others, like what goes on in the fire swamp, from the flames to the R.O.U.S., the screeching eels and their design, and even Count Rugen’s right hand are done very well.  The matte paintings are gorgeous.  The stunt work is excellent, especially when there are clashes of steel (that sword battle between Inigo and Roberts/Westley is the stuff of legends and shows their ability to update the swashbuckling adventure movies of the Golden Age to 80s Hollywood blockbusters and beyond), and even has some more impressive moments, like with the Cliffs of Insanity.  If there’s a weak point here, it’s that Mark Knopfler is better as the guitarist for Dire Straits than as a film composer due to a very dated-sounding score reliant of a synthesized orchestra that just sounds cheesy unless a guitar is played (and that ending theme is just lame).

As for why this movie has the legacy it does and why people ultimately remember it, I’d put my money on the script.  Being tight as hell, the script, written by the author of the book this movie was based on, manages to tell the epic story it has and focuses on everything important and give reasons for character actions.  Along with that, the dialogue this movie has is incredible.  I’m sure that you’re quoting either the notable lines or even some random line that nobody has brought up yet in your head as you’re reading this.  Some examples include the aforementioned “Inconceivable,” the Inigo Montoya’s words of revenge, Miracle Max’s mention of what mostly dead means, the explanation of “to the pain,” or even this piece of glorious fun:
And there are even more lines that are great, such as Westley’s “There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world.  ‘Twould be a pity to damage yours.”  It’s even better considering the context of the scene.  But if there’s one line that I feel is the best, it’s “As you wish.”  The story’s foundation is built on that single line.  It’s a funny movie, and even a touching one, because of the script.

So what do I have to say else about this classic?  All I can add is that this is probably one of the finest, funniest, and most entertaining movies directed by Rob Reiner (the other being This is Spinal Tap) and a testament to the power of true love.  Is it dated?  Sort of.  The character of Buttercup and the music may affect how this movie may play to some people.  Is the cast great?  Yes.  Is it funny?  Of course.  Should you see it more often?  Why are you reading this?  Rewatch The Princess Bride!  It definitely is a favorite of mine.  And I hope to show it to my own kids.

Final Score: 9/10 (an enchanting fantasy classic with even more classic dialogue, plus I do like cheese).

So that was my review of The Princess Bride, and I hope you’re February was better than mine.  If you have anything to say, feel free to leave a comment.  No seriously, I’d like to know your favorite lines from this movie to see if we can do long sections of quoting this movie.  If you’d also like to share this with your friends, do so.  That is great for me.  Finally, if you think that there’s a movie that you’d like to know my thoughts on, feel free to tell me.  But if your request is for me to keep on rolling with this blog, do better, and find new heights to take this, may it be my interests, passions, what I’m like when writing these, or even what my plans for this are in March…

As you wish.

As for what I’m doing later, I’ve got a princess to save, a wedding to crash, a prince to humiliate, and so on.
Until next time, this is the Rock Otaku.  Live Loud, Play Hard, and remember to not mess with a Sicilian when death is on the line.

All used references are done under the rules of fair use and are owned by their original creators. 

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