The Shining vs. Princess Bride
My apologies for the delayed response; Bondo, oldkid and I were supposed to deliver a unified response all on the same day, but sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it. So here I am with my opinion trailing in after the wonderful posts by Bondo and oldkid have already determined the verdict...
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) -
When I received this matchup I was quite happy, for while I had seen both of these films previously, I had been wanting to give The Shining another shot, after having been less than impressed the first time saw it. Kubrick has always been a mixed bag with me. At times his filmmaking has astounded me, and other times I have been quite disinterested. The one major qualm I had with The Shining the first time I saw it remains this time as well: the performance of Jack Nicholson. He is just way to over the top for me and seems to get a little too crazy a little too quickly. I don't buy it, which in part comes from Kubrick failing to ever convince me with his delivery of the story in the early going. Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd are a bit grating as well. Duvall gives what is probably the best performance, but her attitude just seems so off and out of sync with what we are seeing the in the development of Jack. One of the other major gripes I have with this film is the fact that I am never once convinced that Jack and Wendy love each other or have ever been a couple in a meaningful relationship with each other, even before Jack goes nuts. The inauthentic feel to these characters really makes me struggle to ever fully invest myself in their story.
What this film does have going for it are the visuals. The set decoration and cinematography make for a visual feast. This is a gorgeous film, and the maze in the snow at night will forever be one of those scenes that stays in my mind. Extremely well shot. But beauty in images is not enough to win me over. Many of the films I love with a great passion are also beautiful looking films, but unlike those, The Shining's beautiful imagery does not seem to compliment or add to the story being told. I am sure there are others who would disagree, but it is not an element I was able to discern.
The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) -
The Princess Bride is one of those classics. They replay in your mind and are everlastingly quotable with friends. I must admit that there is some nostalgia attached with this film, but my viewing this time I went in to try and be as fair as I could be. Ultimately, my love for the film seems to have receded slightly after this viewing. There is so much to be loved from start to finish here, but I must say that it felt a little less complete; more episodic than I had remembered. The saving grace is that each of those episodes are so much fun! The entire cast in awesome throughout, with the highlight being Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya. This also reaffirms my love of Robin Wright, what a wonderful actress. I really wish she were in more modern films.
But on top of the great cast, wonderful gags and quotable lines, what I took away most from this viewing was the structure of the story, with the annoying grandfather telling the fairy tale to his sick grandson. I just loved how involved the kid gets and the playful interaction between the two as we follow along with them. There really has already been so much said about this film, especially in oldkid's great review, but while it may have a little less polish and greatness than I originally remember, it still remains a timeless classic that I will be sure to watch many more times, year after year.
Verdict: The interesting thing with this matchup is that beforehand I would have told you I hated The Shining and absolutely adored The Princess Bride. The Shining improved, if just ever so slightly, while The Princess Bride managed to feel less beloved this go around. Yet my verdict is as assured as it would have been before rewatching both. The Princess Bride moves on, without a doubt.