That is the way these stories start. It doesn't matter how old you are. Whether you are in love or not, male or female, we have all come to appreciate a good fairytale at some point in our lives. Each generation has one that they hold on to from their youth or perspective. But the rarest of them all is a live romantic fairytale. If done right it can speak to the heart and leave an impression like no other type of film can. In the 2000's we had a fallen star in "Stardust" (2007), In the 90's Tim Burton gave us love starved "Edward Scissorhands" (1990) and in the 80's you had the one that most are judged against. 27 Years ago Rob Reiner gave us the romantic tale of Buttercup and her love Westley, who made women's heart melt with every "As you wish". 1987's "The Princess Bride" was and still is like magic in a bottle. Almost three decades pass and from time to time you will still find someone quoting "The Princess Bride". That's the power of a good live fairtyale.
Out this week in Blu-ray/DVD is Warner Brothers release of "Winters Tale". This once upon a time story came from the literary work of the same title by Mark Helprin. "Winters Tale" is directed by Academy Award winner Akiva Goldsman, who won the Oscar for his "A Beautiful Mind" screenplay and has also written the screenplays for "I Am Legend", "The Da Vinci Code", "I Robot", and "Cinderella Man." Beyond some TV directing, "Winters Tale" is his first venture in the director's chair of a major motion picture.
For "Winters Tale", Director Akiva Goldsman pulled from his previous works a cast of actors that you would never guess to be in a fairytale film. "Winters Tale" is the story of Peter Lake, played by Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) who's parents upon arriving to America, are denied entry for medical reasons. His parents take a model boat and place baby Lake inside sailing it for the coast in hopes that Peter may have a better life than they could provide. Peter, who grew up an orphan, became a mechanic and then a burglar in a gang headed by Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Les Miserables). Peter, after crossing his boss, tries to escape and is rescued by a mysterious white horse who becomes his partner in crime. This horse leads him to one last house to rob before escaping the city. Once inside the house, Peter is lured by the sound of piano playing to find the home is not empty at all, a fair maiden with hair of red captures his eye. Beverly Penn, played by Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), upon seeing the intruding Peter Lake is unafraid and even offers him tea. Beverly is suffering from consumption and has very little time left to be afraid. After Peter leaves, Beverly readies herself for the country and as she's about to jump on the carriage she is approached by Mr. Soames who figures she is his best way to get to Peter. As Mr. Soames threatens Beverly, in gallops Peter Lake on his white horse sweeping her off her feet and off to safety.
When it comes to love stories, "Winters Tale" delivers. The chemistry between Farrell and Findlay is fantastic. Crowe plays a great bad guy, though at points, you could barely understand him with his Bane-like raspy voice and accent. Also in the cast is William Hurt (Broadcast News, Children of a Lesser God) plays Beverly's overprotective father. Jennifer Connelly (Hulk, Labyrinth) plays a reporter who's at the right place at the right time. And last but not least is my favorite cameo moment of the film, Will Smith (MIB, Bad Boys) who plays the Judge, or as some would otherwise refer to as Lucifer. In this scene, Akiva Goldsman's details in the Judge's shadow it truly creative.
"Winters Tale" beautifully crosses time and space with visuals as well as a good story. Even more so is the amazing score that breaths heart and soul into this film. Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Dark Knight, Inception), the king of action scores, composes a beautiful heartfelt score that touches your heart and give you hope, along with tears at just the right moment.
"Winters Tale", released in Blu-ray & DVD also comes with a few extras that include a couple behind the scenes and character features as well as a few deleted & extended footage (which really wasn't necessary and adds very little to the story).
"Winters Tale" may never fully compete against "The Princess Bride" and those who love it. But it's been a long time since someone had ventured into the realm of fantasy romances and Akiva Goldsman puts up a valiant effort to add another star in the fairytale heavens.
I give "Winters Tale" 4 stars out of 5.
It's not "As you wish" good but its far from "Mostly Dead"