Braveheart is one hell of a film with a powerful performance from Mel Gibson, even when his Scottish accent wasn’t always the best. Beyond that, his direction was well done with some great choreographed battle scenes.
— 25th Anniversary —
Genre(s): Drama, Action, War
Paramount | R – 178 min. – $27.99 | June 16, 2018
Date Published: 06/24/2018 | Author: The Movieman
Note: Portions were copied over from Elyusha Vafaeisefat’s DVD review from 2008
and the 2018 4K UHD Review
THE MOVIE — 5.0/5
“Actor turned director” is a phrase that audiences have grown more and more accustomed to over the past several years. Of course, people like Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Woody Allen and John Cassavetes all proved that they had the ability to be successful in front of the camera as well as behind it. We’ve also seen several more recent superstar actors turned directors with Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Denzel Washington being among the better ones. Kevin Costner also showed that he had talent in making Dances With Wolves and Open Range but unfortunately he is also responsible for Waterworld and The Postman. Other actors like George Clooney and Ben Affleck have also had recent success in directing films. With the exception of Clint Eastwood, I believe that Mel Gibson is easily the best of the actor turned directors in the past 15 years. While Redford and Washington showed that they are very good at directing dramas, Gibson and Eastwood prove that they can do drama as well as period films with intense action sequences.
Back when Mel Gibson was set to direct Braveheart in the early 90’s, the only film he had under his belt was The Man Without a Face. While I actually believe that it is quite an underrated film, it is not a film that screams out that Mel Gibson is a great director. It is simply a “good” but ultimately forgettable film. Nonetheless, Gibson made his transition from drama to period epic very well only 2 years later with Braveheart.
Upon its initial release, Braveheart was received well by most critics but audiences didn’t really run out in packs to see the film. The film only managed $75 million at the box office, which is good but considering how big a draw Gibson was in 1995 along with the fact that it was a big Memorial Day release, the total gross had to have been below studio expectations for Paramount. That being said, the film was honored with 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Mel Gibson. The film then went on to build a great following in its video sales and a few years later on DVD. Over the past 12 years, Braveheart has held up well and is still remembered as easily one of the best epic films of the past 20 years.
Gibson does an amazing job in directing the film. He uses several techniques that directors have borrowed and replicated since the film’s release in 1995. Gibson puts the camera in the center of the battle and makes the viewer feel as if they are right there in the middle of the action. The camera jerks as well as the editing style of the film were very influential over the past decade. I believe that Steven Spielberg has even admitted that he used some of Gibson’s techniques in his filming of Saving Private Ryan. Ridley Scott also uses some of Gibson’s camera jerks in the opening battle scene of Gladiator. Gibson also proved that he still had the ability to direct with The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. He once again proved that he has a strong sense of directing the brutality of violence but also balancing it with great scenery and camera movement.
I also believe that Mel Gibson does a fine job in the role of lead actor in the film as well. While it is at first hard to believe Mel Gibson as a Scot, as the film progresses, Gibson gets more and more comfortable in the role of William Wallace. What really carries the film are the amazing performances by the supporting cast: Patrick McGoohan gives perhaps one of the most underrated performances in recent history as King Edward I or Longshanks as he is also known. Also turning in great performances are Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, David O’Hara, Ryan Brearley and the great Ian Bannen just to name a few.
Of course what makes the film so memorable is the great screenplay from Randall Wallace. While many have criticized the film for taking some liberties in terms of the actual events William Wallace took part in, as a film, one must admit that Braveheart is incredibly dramatic and adds greatly to the myth of what William Wallace did for Scotland. Still, so many years later, Braveheart remains an incredible achievement for Mel Gibson.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5.0/5
This release comes housed in a Steelbook case and inside, a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Disc 1 (4K Ultra HD):
Disc 2 (Blu-ray):
Braveheart Timelines – This looks at the production timeline for the movie from when Randall Wallace visited Scotland in 1983 to when principal photography began in 1994. Accompanied are photo galleries and archival behind-the-scenes footage.
Disc 3 (Blu-ray):
Braveheart: A Look Back (1:00:23; SD) – This 3-part making-of documentary from 2009 is well made providing old interviews with Gibson, Wallace and others.
Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields (25:19; SD) – This featurette is on this location with a bloody past of torture and death and is currently modernized and a peaceful area.
Tales of William Wallace (29:59; SD) takes a look at the real life man and what he means to the country.
A Writer’s Journey (21:30; SD) is a look at how Randall Wallace got the idea for writing the film as well as why he felt that Gibson was the right person to tell the story of William Wallace.
Also included are two Theatrical Trailers.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
|Paramount releases Braveheart onto 4K UHD presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p high-definition transfer (HEVC/H.265). The picture doesn’t look bad at all; detail is relatively sharp throughout with only some minor softness in some shots. Other than that, colors appear well balanced and there weren’t any apparent flaws such as specs, something I noticed on the Sapphire Series Blu-ray release.|
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|The movie includes a strong Dolby Atmos track, upgrading over the already fine DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue levels come across with great clarity but where it shines is with the wonderful Celtic music and just an already great score. The battle scenes also were amazing, the surrounds came to life with the ambient noises with screams and clanking swords enveloping the room.|
OVERALL – 4.75/5
Overall, Braveheart is one hell of a film with a powerful performance from Mel Gibson, even when his Scottish accent wasn’t always the best. Beyond that, his direction was well done with some great choreographed battle scenes reminding you, just as it did on Gladiator, of old school epic Hollywood. This 4K UHD release offers up good video and excellent audio transfers and an superb selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.