When I was young, I used to read. A lot.
I read James Bond, Little Women, Horrible Histories, and Gormenghast (hated it, and haven’t got round to picking it up again since. It is on my grown-up reading list, though). I read Look&Learn, Giles, The Wind in the Willows and all those classic tales, all the classics (Austen, Little House on the Prarie, Worzel Gummidge, Hemmingway and Dickens) that my Mum had on the shelf, all my Grandma’s detective sets (Cadfel and Agatha Christie are still favourites), and a large chunk of my Dad’s thriller collection. I read my way through the Library’s fantasy and sci-fi collections (Pratchett, McCaffrey, David Eddings along with Redwall, Robert Jordan, Asimov) and dipped into the crime and thriller sections (Morse is the one I really took to, but I did read others). So I have read a LOT.
But I never picked up The Princess Bride – I suppose because it’s one of the ‘classics’, it wasn’t in the usual fantasy section of the Library (bad classifying there, Salisbury Library). And I don’t really watch films, so it passed entirely under my radar. I know the famous lines, of course, but didn’t know much about it beyond ‘adventure story’.
Well, one of my dearest friends found this out, and loaned it to me.
And I don’t like it.
It’s jumpy: the intrusions by Goldman are f***ing irritating, and keep pulling you out of the story. In many ways, if Morgenstern’s original text did exist then I’d much rather read that! The characters are shallow, although I admit at least they are all different and vaguely interesting. Buttercup really annoyed me, Inigo also annoyed me (he’d still be the best swordsman after however many years of drinking? I don’t think so!), Westley was ok but cliche, and Fezzik was inconsistent. I never really understood why Humperdinick was trying to kill Buttercup (I mean, there’s enough causes for war without needing as much faffing around) and I didn’t really care about the plot. The only bit I really wanted to go on reading was (ok, I won’t spoil it for anyone else who hasn’t read it) just before they give Westley the chocolate-covered pill. Also, the lead into Buttercup’s Baby – what the hell?!
It does have good bits: some of scenes are impressive (the fight on the Cliffs of Insanity springs to mind) and the fight scene between Inigo and the Count made me laugh (I don’t know if it was meant to, but it did) but the rest – meh. I read it through a sense of “I really need to read this” and I don’t want to pick it up again to re-read. It’s currently still in my bag from my trip away this weekend, and I’m sort of dreading getting it back out because I feel I have to give it a second chance. I’m sure someone’s going to come up with the “but it’s for children! You’re reading too much into it!”. Bollocks. A lot of my favourite books are for children – and they are still readable by adults! Just because it’s stuffed full of ‘adventure’ doesn’t make it good. So yeah. Lame, annoying and not something I want on my bookshelf.
So, what about the film? Is that any better? Should I watch it?