The Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary review (Blu-ray)

A grandfather entertains his poorly grandson with a classic fairy tale story ("When I was your age, television was called 'books'.") about a beautiful princess, a swashbuckling pirate, a gentle giant, an ace swordsman and a dastardly prince. There’s fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, rodents of unusual size, true love and miracles ...

There are very few family films as joyfully fun and heartwarming as Reiner’s wonderful adaptation of William Goldman’s equally enjoyable novel (adapted here for the screen by Goldman himself). Knowingly poking fun at the genre while at the same time reveling in its clichés, The Princess Bride is to fairytales what Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap is to rockumentaries. It's a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure that has never been bettered. But at its heart, it's simply a celebration of storytelling.

With its mix of exciting action (from daring swordfights to encounters with screaming eels), gut-busting comedy and some romance thrown in for good measure, this is parody at its very best. It's sweet, charming, well-paced and beautiful to look at in this crisp and clear 25th anniverary Blu-ray transfer.

The cast is also top notch, from the leads of Elwes’ swaggering Dread Pirate Roberts and Sarandon’s rotten-to-the-core Prince Humperdinck, through to the supporting roles, ably filled out by the likes of Patinkin, Falk, Savage, former pro-wrestler Andre The Giant and the ever brilliant Shawn. Wright’s somewhat bland Princess Buttercup is the only blemish on an otherwise thoroughly entertaining film.

If you can keep a straight face during Shawn and Elwes’ battle of wits, then your funny bone has clearly been surgically removed, which is inconceivable! And remember: death can never stop true love, all it can do is delay it for a while.

EXTRAS ★★★★ This release stands as an example to all of what is an acceptable level of bonus material to include. OK, it's more that acceptable; it's a plethora. There's not one, but TWO audio commentaries – one with director Reiner, the other with writer Goldman. The rest of the bonus features are ... the two-part featurette True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon, consisting of A Conversation With Rob Reiner, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright (14:58), and Entering The Zeitgeist (15:06); the featurette As You Wish: The Story of The Princess bride (27:18); the 1987 Original Featurette (7:40); the 1987 Making Of Featurette (6:37); Cary Elwes' Video Diary (3:45); the featurette The Art of Fencing (7:02); the featurette Dread Pirate Roberts: Greatest Legend of the Seven Seas (11:44); the featurette Farytales and Folklore (9:10); the featurette Love is Like a Storybook (16:44); the featurette Miraculous Makeup: Creating Miracle Max (11:24); the featurette Princess Bride: The Untold Tales (9:07); trailers; and a picture gallery. See? Now THAT'S how to do extras.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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