Pirates of the Caribbean vs. The Princess Bride

Preface: I’ve been a humongous Princess Bride fan since before my balls dropped, and an even bigger fan afterwards. However, I’m also a humongous (not just fat, either) fan of Pirates, having seen it in theatres more times than any other movie (three, so far, and most likely gonna see it at least two or three times more).

Further preface: I fully recognize that this is subjective. I’m not asking “Which is the better film?” I’m asking “Which do you like better?”

Now, an overview:

-The Princess Bride, in my opinion, has been the definitive swashbuckling fantasy film, being THE pinnacle of what movies of that genre should aspire to, from the past two decades. It has a lot of class, history, power, wit, and fun. The characters are extremely likeable, and the story is crafted masterfully… and, to top it all off, the swordfighting is just fucking cool.

-Pirates of the Caribbean is probably one of the most refreshingly surprising movies ever created (based on a friggin’ RIDE, fer Christ’s sake), but it easily matches TPB for fun and color. In my opinion, it has a very good story, powerful and not leaving any significant plot holes, and it has some extremely colorful characters.

Me, personally, I would have to say that I like POTC more, for the following reasons (and this is where the subjectivity comes in). In TPB, we have a very clear delineation between “good” and “bad”: Westley, Fezzik, Inigo, and Buttercup are “good”, whereas Vizzini, Humperdink, and Count Rugen are “bad”, and never the twain shall meet. For me, this is a poor filmmaking tactic, dividing things up so much into black and white. There are few redeeming qualities in Humperdink and Rugen (though Vizzini… I just wanna pinch his cheeks).

On the other hand, the only characters which are clear and B&W are Elizabeth and Will. All others are shades of gray, which is a character creation choice that I personally prefer. Jack Sparrow is a “good” guy, seeking what he perceives as his only means of achieving freedom, but he’s got his rascally side to him. Same with Commodore Norrington… he’s a man of duty, technically an “antagonist” (a minor one, but still…) for parts of the film, but ultimately, he turns out to be a man of honor, one who is willing to make exceptions, a man that isn’t selfish and truly is trustworthy, even if a tad rude and terse at times.

And, most importantly, there’s Captain Barbossa: A villain, dislikeable, evil as all get out, a wicked, twisted man. HOWEVER, he’s a sympathetic character, in my opinion… a man who has performed evil deeds, and has suffered greatly as a result, being constantly tortured for a decade, unable to enjoy anything in his life, unable to feel anything. His goal was solely to regain his humanity… witness his line: “You know what I’m going to do after the curse is lifted? Eat a whooole bushel of apples!”

Conversely, in TPB, Count Rugen’s character came across as very flat, a man who is aloof to the events that are going on around him. His goals remain ambiguous, his purposes for doing what he does seems to be mere curiosity. In short, he’s really just sociopathic, in my opinion. Similarly, Humperdink is just a big, whiney pussy that wants to start a war “for some reason”… it’s never explained just WHY he wants to go to war with Guilder, other than an implication that more land is good. These characters exist solely to create an antagonism… there’s no sympathy or understanding for them.

Of course, TPB’s superiority lies in its wit and colorful characters. Whereas the best dialogue and actions came from Sparrow and Barbossa in POTC, in TPB just about EVERY character had their shining moments. The quartet of Westley, Inigo, Fezzik, and Buttercup had greater character interaction compared to Sparrow, Will, and Elizabeth. However, I found the swordfighting in POTC to be more satisfying, and the secondary characters in POTC were easily a match - and then some - for the likes of Miracle Max and Valerie. Furthermore, the sea battle and action was a humongous plus for POTC… compare it to the battles from, say, Cutthroat Island (sigh), and it’s easily got some of the better naval moments of the past twenty years.

So there’re my reasons: Whereas TPB is superior in terms of writing and wit, POTC makes up with more complicated characters, less black-and-white. The two, in my opinion, equal each other in terms of fun or entertainment, with POTC having a greater emphasis on action while TPB’s emphasis is clever dialogue and character interactions. I prefer the “bigger” and “bolder” style of Pirates… which is not to say I think TPB is a weak movie. That’s like comparing a good lay with a good blowjob, frankly.

So, what thinkest thou all, Teeming Millions? Who likes which, for what reasons?

ADDENDUM: I should also say that I like the theme of POTC - seeking freedom - than that of TPB - true love (though the revenge them on the part of Inigo is something that I dig).

I pretty much agree with everything you said.

yes to all of the above.

For me, Princess Bride is much better though. I suppose the fact that it’s from my childhood plays into that. Perhaps if they were released side by side I’d have another opinion.

I know there are lots of Princess Bride fanatics out there, but I am one of those people who is really lukewarm to it. I just don’t get their fanaticism, but I see that it is an interesting, well made movie.

On the other hand I am a card-carrying POTC fanatic. Fun, fun movie. Just what I needed, and well-made, well-written and well-acted too. Can’t wait for the DVD

“Princess Bride” is supposed to be a fairy tale… fairy tales ALWAYS have clearly defined good and evil… Why is Humperdink a "big, whiney pussy that wants to start a war ‘for some reason’… "? Because that’s what evil people do… WHay did the evil stepmother hate Cinderella? Why did the Witch want to eat Hansel and Gretel? That’s what evil people do.

POTC wants to be more “realistic” in that people have shades of grey… basically good can do evil things… basically evil people don’t have to be UTTERLY loathesome.
That’s what I think anyway…

Heh, that’s just it… I’m one of those Princess Bride fanatics. I can quote about a quarter of the movie verbatim…

Well, I understand why it was done that way. I just prefer to see characters with a little splash of “the other side” in them. I like heroes that aren’t Lil’ Mr. Perfect all the time, and I like villains that you can sympathize with.

** SPOOFE**, have you read the novel The Princess Bride? If you haven’t, you need to read it RIGHT NOW. Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay, and it’s a great example of the same story being told in two different media – it’s not so much that the movie is true to hte book on a line by line basis–though much of it is–as it is that the feel is wonderfully translated. That said, in the book:

The shades-of-gray thing is much more evident. It’s really clear in the book (IMHO) that what Wesley and Buttercup feel isn’t true love–it’s true lust. They don’t really know each other at all–she likes the look of his strong back, he loves her hair the color of autumn (what the hell color is that?) etc. Goldman must have recognized that he really couldn’t get this across in the movie and STILL do all the other stuff that he wanted to do. However, if you want a really nuanced look at the same story, READ THE BOOK!

I can’t see how you can compare the two.

TPB-Classic fairy tale, simple told, never gets old, delightful at any age.
POC- No doubt, fun and likeable, but mostly bogged down by special effects and much darker. Darker = More kids have the potential to be frightened by it, thus not making it as popular as the former in all age groups.

Have not read the book. We had it, in my youth, but it’s since vanished.

But then, I’m not discussing books, anyway… I tend to favor them in general.

I can. In fact, I already did. See the OP. :smiley:

Just wanted to point out that this comment is terribly, terribly wrong. POTC is a perfect example of a movie in which the special effects compliment the story and acting wonderfully, with only one brief (silly, yet fun) sequence where the effects are embellished

Princess Bride for me, if only because it’s a movie I can show to the whole family. Those POTC skeletons would never get past my wife and tot.

The characters in PB aren’t quite as black and white as you paint them: Wesley is, after all, a pirate. The man he learned his craft from, of whom he speaks fondly, did put the entire crew of Wesley’s ship to the sword, and only spared Wesley himself on a whim. Inigo and Fessik are both kidnappers, and Inigo is a hopeless drunk. Humperdinck is a prince respected throughout the land. Sure, on an individual level, the characters are pretty black and white, but none of the characters who are supposed to be good guys are really good guys, and all of the good guys are people who would normally be considered bad guys. I think that role reversal itself is a kind of shading.

Overall, I think Princess Bride has the edge. Pirates had more swordfights, but PB had the best swordfight. A lot of the characters in Pirates were rather flat, especially Will and Elizabeth. And PB was much righter. Pirates was great and epic, but it sort of sprawled a bit. The second time I saw it, I knew when I could afford to step out and take a whizz or whatever. PB pulls you along relentlessly: there aren’t any scenes you can safely “miss,” because every scene is both vitally important to the plot and a joy to watch.

That said, I did dearly love both movies. Pirates was very, very, very good. But Princess Bride was perfect.

I’m a big Pirates of the Caribbean fangirl, but I think Princess Bride] has the edge due to Pirates’ pacing issues. I love the movie, but it needs some trimming; the fight scenes are great, but after the first few, they drag like a sumbitch. Interceptor v. Black Pearl in particular could be shaved down.

On a side note, I think Will is a more complicated character than many people give him credit for, or at least he starts out that way. I see a lot of conflict in his early actions and attitudes, he has issues with his temper (hatchet in the map, anyone?) and you can tell that he’s having the time of his life fighting (and killing, so far as he knows) the pirates who raid Port Royal. The movie doesn’t maintain his level of characterization, though, and I think that’s another point for Princess Bride–its characters are much, much more consistent.