The Princess Bride (1987)


This movie came as another request from Robert. Not the “friend” that made me watch Thankskilling. This one came from the me Robert. I had managed to catch about 20 minutes of the movie while waiting to be passed over for another promotion (long story for elsewhere) and decided that I should watch it again. And then I responded “As I wish”. Thankfully, this movie was already in my collection and it was not a difficult wish to grant. So I present to you my review of The Princess Bride, starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre the Giant, with notable guest appearances by Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Falk, and Fred Savage.

Buttercup (Robin Wright) is a dirty bitch to her stable boy Westley (Cary Elwes). She delights in bossing him around and he responds only with “as you wish”. These words apparently end up meaning “I love you” and she starts to feel the same. In order to get married, Westley sails off to earn his fortune for their wedding. Unfortunately, Westley’s ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who is notorious for not being a fan of hostages. Buttercup receives word of his death and becomes despondent. Five years later, Buttercup is reluctantly engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). While out riding her horse, Buttercup is kidnapped by Sicilian criminal genius Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and a gigantic wrestler from Greenland Fezzik (the gigantic wrestler from France, Andre Roussimoff aka the Giant). While sailing away, they find that they are being followed. They reach the Cliffs of Insanity and Vizzini orders Inigo to kill the masked man in black following them. The Dread Pirate Roberts bests Inigo in fencing (as people named Robert are known to do), but leaves Inigo alive, knocking him out instead. Vizzini then orders Fezzik to kill Roberts, but Roberts manages to choke out the giant (as people named Robert do) and leaves Fezzik unconcious. Vizzini then accepts a battle of wits with Roberts, but Roberts outsmarts him (again, Robert’s do these things!). Vizzini is all the way dead though. After needlessly pestering Buttercup for a bit, Roberts reveals that he is Westley, who was not killed, but befriended by the Dread Pirate Roberts and was handed the mantle of the Dread Pirate Roberts upon the old Roberts’ retirement. Soon after, Humperdinck catches them, but Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck if he promises not to kill Westley. The deal is struck and Humperdinck and Buttercup ride off together, and the six-fingered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) takes Westley to safety … and by that I mean his death. WHAT WILL HAPPEN?! WILL TRUE LOVE TRIUMPH?! Well sure, but it’s fun to watch.

This is a pretty damn good movie, says I. And what’s best about it is that I feel it works for almost everybody. It’s got romance for the ladies and sword fighting and action for the mens. And the comedy will work for both. The entire movie is basically a rom-com based around Buttercup and Westley with all that icky girly kissy-faced stuff that them girls are into. But then when you involve Inigo, you get a lot of cool sword fighting and a great revenge story as Inigo searches for Count Rugen to avenge the murder of his father. I feel that everybody knows the famous line from this movie “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” And if you don’t remember this line, you will once you’ve watched the movie. It’s used about 8 times, but never in a way that makes you say “STOP SAYING THAT”, unless you’re Rugen. Wallace Shawn and Cary Elwes’ discussion over the poison goblet is solid good-time funnies. The only real problem I had with this (which I may not have if I read the book of the same name) was with the bookending with the Fred Savage and Peter Falk. The movie’s premise was that it was a story a grandfather (Falk) was reading to his grandson (Savage). Falk put on a good show and all, but these parts seemed like an unnecessary intrusion on a good story. But that’s not a major gripe. Another problem is the last line of the book. It’s something like “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been 5 kisses that are the best, and this one was better than those”. That just seems like lazy writing right there. It’s like “I can’t really think of a description that perfectly captures how amazing and romantic I want this kiss to be. …I guess I’ll just say that.”

The production of this movie is mostly top of the line (at least for what I’d expect from ’87, but they still hold up today). The backdrops for the scenes are all pretty epic in scope and fit the scene perfectly, most notably the Cliffs of Insanity. The clothing and make-up effects are all great and fit the scene perfectly. This will sound gay, but I noticed Robin Wright’s outfits as being particularly good. One thing that I felt was problematic to this movie probably wouldn’t have been a problem if you were reading it. That problem is that nobody was unaware that the Dread Pirate Roberts was Westley. Put a Robin mask on him and hide his hair, give him a Hitler ‘stache, and no one will be the wiser. Also, the ROUSes (or the Rodents Of Unusual Size) were less than convincing. But I suppose it was the best they could muster at the time, so I let it slide. They’re a minor part of the movie anyway. Also, I just realized on this viewing of the movie that I try to figure out exactly how Count Rugen’s pain machine works every single time I’ve watched this movie. Maybe I desire to be an evil genius and torture people with a water-based complicated piece of machinery.

I can’t really think of a single performance in this movie I didn’t like. Inigo was the man, as far as I was concerned, but Westley did a good amount of awesome himself. I especially liked Cary Elwes’ performance when his body was paralyzed. Wallace Shawn is another stand out performance here. He was only briefly in the movie, but was entertaining the entire time. The best percentage of comedy, however, goes to Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Carol Kane as his wife. I loved their scenes. Christopher Guest as Count Rugen was a different step from the other performances I’ve enjoyed him in, but he performed it very well. Andre the Giant would have to be the surprise performance here because he was very good, though technically he may have been playing himself, though he did hide the fact that he could barely walk throughout the movie. I don’t know the guy’s name, but the guy that played the priest and did the whole “Mawwiage” thing was priceless.

So that’s that. This could be my favorite rom-com ever. I say that because it’s funny enough and contains enough action that guys aren’t slitting their wrists while their girlfriends are making them watch it. I give this movie “Her appeal is undeniable” out of “I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

My roommate Richard approached me today to find out if I owned Bram Stoker’s Dracula because some friends of his had been talking about it and he wanted to watch it. Thankfully, I did own the movie even though I don’t think I’d seen it since shortly after it became available to rent on VHS. So we decided to sit down and give it a peep and, as I do with every movie I watch nowadays, I wrote this here review. Bram Stoker’s Dracula stars Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Cary Elwes.

The basic premise of Dracula should hardly be one that needs to be recounted, but here’s the gist of it. Vlad Dracul (Gary Oldman) was once a great warrior for God. While away at war, news gets back to his wife, Elisabeta (Winona Ryder), that he has died in the battle. Grief-stricken, she throws herself off a tower and plummets to her death. When Dracul returns to find his wife dead, he renounces God, stabbing a cross, making it bleed, and drinking the blood. So now he’s all immortal like. Much later in time, probably around the late 1800’s, Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) has to go see Dracula to help him refinance his mortgage. I actually have no idea why he went to see him. Something about Renfield (Tom Waits, but looks a whole lot like Ron Pearlman) going crazy and then Reeves replaces him. Perhaps Dracula was in need of a horrible amalgam of surfer and Englishman accents. So Reeves goes out there, drives through some blue flames, meets crazy old buttheaded Oldman, ignores that Oldman’s shadow is on about a 10 second delay from the rest of Oldman, doesn’t notice that Dracula can close doors without touching them and walk without taking steps, and Dracula even draws a sword on him at one point. Reeves is either so dense or so committed to his job that he doesn’t pay these things any mind, and I could believe either. Well Reeves starts to catch on and tries to escape, but is greeted by 3 hot naked ladies (one of which is Monica Bellucci) and proceeds to get eaten by them, but not all the way, just enough to keep him weak. Well turns out Dracula’s taking a trip to London to make moves on Reeves’ lady friend (also Winona Ryder) because of her resemblance to his dead wife. But I’ve always said that the way I wanna go is being eaten alive by a naked Monica Bellucci, so I feel no remorse for him.

Dracula goes to London, turns into a werewolf looking creature, and proceeds to sex up and then partially eat Winona Ryder’s friend Lucy (Sadie Frost). Lucy starts to turn vampire on us which she indicates by popping a boob out periodically and moaning erotically a lot. In the meantime, Dracula, now young again and with much less posterior on the back of his head, sets to work romancing Winona.

So this movie is a classic in most people’s eyes, but I found myself very surprised that it was made in 1992. I thought the movie was much older for some reason. It does have an old fashioned feel to it. It seemed like the movie was paying homage to 50’s movies in some of the editing choices. But since it seemed like a choice, much like Indiana Jones was going for a 50’s movie feel, I can’t blame it. Parts of it were entirely fascinating to watch, and certainly had enough sexy time to keep me interested, but the movie left me closer to confused than to contented.

The acting was great except for the miscasting so obvious it almost needn’t be named, but I shall anyway. Keanu Reeves bogged the movie down. Reeves can be fine in the right role. I liked him as Neo, for instance. I liked him as Ted Theodore Logan. I don’t like seeing him attempt an English accent. He was completely out of place here. Oldman took Dracula way over the top, as Oldman tends to do, but it works for Dracula. This is quite possibly the definitive performance of a vampire and I’m really trying to think of one that even comes close. Anthony Hopkins plays Hugh Jackman when he gets on in years. His Van Helsing was pretty entertaining; playing it as the vampire expert/hunter but also seemingly a little out of his element when dealing with the living. And I like it every time I see Winona Ryder. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked one of her performances either, but I’m not sure how much of that is based on the fact that I’m in love with her. Seriously, age difference be damned. If she calls on me, I will follow.

Altogether, I’m pretty conflicted about this movie. I like the acting, but I don’t follow the story. I like the visual effects, but I don’t like being beaten over the head with them. And I didn’t like Keanu Reeves. This is a thoroughly decent movie that doesn’t entirely stand the test of time, at least not for me. I give it a “Certainly watchable” out of “Whoa”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.