Braveheart – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Braveheart - Blu-ray Cover

Braveheart is quite possibly one of the greatest historical epics of all-time. It ranks high up there with the greats like Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur. It’s one of those films that still holds up after all this time. After all, how many times have you heard or wanted to say Mel Gibson’s epic speech? There are a lot of memorable moments in the film.

But it isn’t just the memorable moments that makes Braveheart so great. It’s the amazing combination of visuals, action, drama, and characters are what makes it so great. Gibson and cinematographer John Toll perfectly captures the sweeping green landscapes of Scotland. I mean not many action superstars can say that they have the same majestic and artistic vision that Mel Gibson has.

Because Mel Gibson was a leading man in so many action films, he certainly brings that experience to Braveheart. There is a great amount of scope and violence in Braveheart’s chaotic battle scenes. Each kill is in your face and incredibly bloody. This isn’t the same type of sword-and-sandal violence that you typically see. It’s real and it’s visceral.

However, what’s not real is the historical retelling of William Wallace’s life. Believe it or not, Braveheart is not an accurate representation of Wallace’s life. After all, the film is based on an epic poem instead of an actual text. Yet the decision to make the film as a romantic revenge tale is a great one. This gives the film more emotion and sentimentality than your average docu-drama. As a result, the film becomes an emotional roller coaster ride. You root and attach yourselves to Wallace and his band of brave Scotsmen. Of course, it also helps that James Horner’s score is both magnificent and hypnotic.

Mel Gibson, though, is primary reason audiences love William Wallace. Gibson has never been more charming and charismatic. His presence and gravitas convey much of Wallace’s larger than life legend.

But every great hero needs a great villain and Patrick McGoohan is definitely that. He plays King Edward the Longshanks as a diabolical and conniving character. Not to mention, he has such a presence that makes you uneasy too. He is basically the Goliath to Gibson’s David.

The rest of the cast is amazing too. The friendship in Wallace’s gang is palpable. Every actor plays off each other well and actually seems like close friends. Sophie Marceau gives a sharp performance as Princess Isabelle. The underrated actress conveys a wide array of emotions as the character. Some emotions she hides under a facade and some she shows truthfully. It’s quite a nuanced performance.

Overall, Braveheart is unquestionably one of the greatest historical epics of all-time. The film gave life to a person whose legend is larger-than-life. Even after a lot of viewings, the film never seems to lose its magic.

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Video
Braveheart - Patrick McGoohan

Braveheart hits 4K Ultra HD with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 4K transfer and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It’s thoroughly impressive how good Paramount’s previous rereleases have been. The video for both Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator were great and Braveheart is no exception. Considering the original source material is in native 4K, the video clarity is phenomenal. Each blade of grass, tree leaf, fabric, and more is sharp and distinct. In addition, there is noticeable film grain throughout but it doesn’t overpower the film.

Unlike Gladiator or Saving Private RyanBraveheart boasts a very colorful palette. As a result, the HDR makes each and every color pop from the screen. Although the 1080p Blu-ray is very bright in general, there isn’t much contrast in the film. Yet the black levels on the Ultra HD Blu-ray are rich and inky without any crushed blacks. Thus, it gives the film some depth. The brightness is kept intact because the video is still bright without any of the bloom. Once again, this is another fantastic video presentation by Paramount.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio
Braveheart - Mel Gibson

Braveheart hits 4K Ultra HD with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track. The review will reflect Braveheart‘s core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. Once again, Paramount impresses with its Ultra HD rerelease of Braveheart. The mix may not be as aggressive as other historical epics, but the audio mix is still really good. First and foremost, James Horner’s score flawlessly plays throughout the soundstage. It sounds as if a different instrument is playing through each speaker. Thus, enveloping you with his breathtaking score.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of dynamic pans that’ll come across the soundstage. Yet there’s still a lot of immersion with all of the atmospheric effects. In addition, each and every audio component is distinctly clean and crisp. On top of it all, the LFE rumbles with authority during the battle scenes. As a result, these scenes have a lot more weight to them. Overall, this is an impressive audio presentation for an incredible film.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
Braveheart - Sophie Marceau

Braveheart‘s 4K Ultra HD disc only has Mel Gibson’s audio commentary on it. In addition, you can find the following legacy special features on the Blu-ray:

  • Disc One
    • Braveheart Timelines
  • Disc Two
    • Braveheart: Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion
    • Braveheart: A Look Back
    • Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields
    • Tales of William Wallace
    • A Writer’s Journey

This is one of the better special feature releases despite being several years old. If you’re a historical enthusiast then you’ll love all of the special features. First and foremost, “Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion” is a fun feature. This interactive map shows you the true life battles of the Scottish rebellion.

In addition, “Smithfield” is another historical featurette that enthusiasts might want to check out. This featurette takes a look at the history of Smithfield, the place where William Wallace was executed. “Timelines” is an interactive timeline chronicling the historical, production, and fictional timelines of the film. Although it looks interesting on paper, going through it is a tedious process.

Although “Tales of William Wallace” and “A Writer’s Journey” are in standard definition, they aren’t in a 4:3 format. Thankfully, they don’t look dated and are edited quite well either. In other words, it feels very modern. Also, “A Look Back” is a fantastic retrospective from the cast and crew. Their stories are both hilarious and insightful. It’s just a shame that some of the interviews are done on awkward green screen backgrounds.

Special Features Rating: 4.5/5 atoms


Overall, Braveheart is an astonishing piece of filmmaking by Mel Gibson. It easy to see why many consider Braveheart to be one of the greatest historical epics of all time. Not bad for his second stint as director. The video and audio presentations are all excellent. Not to mention, the special features will teach you a lot about the history of England, Scotland, and Wallace himself. There’s a lot to go through but you’ll definitely learn a thing or two.

Overall Rating: 5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1343 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.