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    DVD Video - Reviews [Braveheart]

    ORIGINAL FULL DVD REVIEW



    Braveheart

    Release Date:
    8/29/2000

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1995
    Run Time: 179 Minutes
    Rating: R
    Starring: Angus MacFadyen, Sean McGinley, Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
    Directed by: Mel Gibson
      Movie Summary: [Drama]

        An epic, action-filled retelling of the saga of the legendary 13th-century Scottish hero William Wallace, known to his countrymen as Braveheart. Devoted to his country and to revenge, Wallace rallies the Scots against the tyrannical British monarch Edward I to win freedom for his people. Academy Award nominations: 10. Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director--Mel Gibson, and Best Cinematography.

    DVD Details
          
    • Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic / 16x9), DD5.1 (Eng) DS2.0 (Eng, Fre)
          
    • Interactive Menus, 2 Theatrical Trailers, Commentary track w/Mel Gibson, Featurette Documentary 'Braveheart: A Filmmaker's Passion' (28 minutes)
    See Full Disc Details...

    Reviewer: Mike Holmes

     Review:                         

            A fter much anticipation, 1995's Best Picture award winner and epic film Braveheart is finally available on DVD. Braveheart portrays the life of 13th Century Scottish commoner William Wallace [Mel Gibson, What Women Want, Lethal Weapon] who is determined to free his country from British rule. Gibson gives us not only memorable battles, but characters of real substance. This film is full of intense action and romance. It not only does an impressive job of depicting real life battles, it truly allows the audience to get a feel for what ancient warfare was all about. This film is not only a pleasure to watch, it is a pleasure to review.

    Film Review:

    The film begins at the time William Wallace is a small boy. William faces tragedy at an early age when his father and older brother are killed during the ongoing conflicts between England and Scotland. After the death of his father and brother, under the unjust rule of English King Edward the Longshanks [Patrick McGoohan], his uncle Argyle raises him. Argyle is a firm believer in education, he teaches William the languages of Latin and French and instructs him in the art of war. As an adult, Wallace eventually returns to his homeland, with dreams of raising a family and not getting involved in the conflicts. Wallace places the concerns of his countrymen far behind the pursuit of his childhood sweetheart Murron [Catherine McCormack].

    Wallace eventually proposes to Murron and the two marry in secret to avoid the English noble's "first rights" to a bride on her wedding night. Soon after the marriage, an English soldier attempts to rape Murron. Wallace manages to rescue her and tells her to flee to their secret meeting place. During the chaos, Wallace manages to escape, however, Murron is captured and executed by an English Lord. Wallace quickly returns to the village with intentions of avenging the death of his bride. The Lord's attempts to expose Wallace, begins his uprising of villagers and clansman to overthrow English rule and free the people of Scotland.

    After word spreads of Wallace's numerous battle successes, King Longshanks awards his son the opportunity to prove he should rightfully inherit the thrown. Caught up in the ongoing war with France, Longshanks orders his son to bring Wallace to justice. Because of his son's incompetence, Wallace manages to gain support of the Scottish Lords and organizes a full-scale war against England. Wallace's passion and brilliant tactics allow the Scottish army to defeat the English forces and cause the legend of William Wallace to grow to new heights.

    Through negotiations with Princess Isabelle [Sophie Marceau], Wallace eventually falls in love with her. After Wallace is convinced the Scottish Lords have united with his army, he is betrayed and released into the hands of the English. Longshanks orders the public execution of Wallace and displays him for public interrogation by the English crowd. Although the final scenes of this film are disturbing, the final word of William Wallace will forever haunt me. Braveheart is a film that will leave you speechless and feeling a sense of hopefulness and pride.

    Most of the time, three-hour movies have me looking at my watch after the first two hours. It is hard to believe this film is 177 minutes long. Braveheart is a constantly moving and riveting film from beginning to end. This film does an excellent job of portraying the life of William Wallace as a man who stands for individuals right to freedom. Although the film is full of gratuitous violence and brutality, the purpose is to display the love and sacrifices made by Scotland's people to become a country of their own.

    Braveheart is a truly epic film of uncompromising quality. The beautiful landscape, horrific battle scenes, intense conflicts, indisputable patriotism, love and sacrifice make Braveheart unquestionably one of the greatest films of the decade. Mel Gibson has created a masterpiece. As a director, he captures the beauty of the landscape, the emotions of the actors and the gruesomeness of war to perfection. As an actor, he brings the spirit of William Wallace to life with charisma and dignity. Patrick McGoohan is remarkable as the cold and ruthless King Edward the Longshanks. Sophie Marceau and Catherine McCormack are both immensely appealing as the love interests throughout William Wallace's life. Although there are a few historical inaccuracies and dramatization, this film is spectacular. Braveheart guarantees to inspire you in learning more about the life of real William Wallace.

    DVD Review:

       Video:

    Braveheart is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Reminiscing a little, I remember how excited I was when I purchased this film on video (perish the thought). Let me describe this tragedy: Although I purchased the widescreen video, the black bars weren't very black. In fact, they looked a bit gray. The picture was extremely washed out and the colors were as dull as a three-week stay at a monastery. For those of you (like me) who purchased the video, my advice is this: Use the two tapes as bookends and then cut the case into a nice little picture to hang on the wall.

    As one would come to expect from Paramount DVD, this disc looks fantastic. There is never a moment of graining and the colors are bold and distinct. This disc truly has one of the nicest looking pictures I have ever seen. The flesh tones during the film always appear natural and free from distortion. The battle scenes are especially detailed. The soldiers, horses, weapons and background are brilliant. The night scenes are very crisp and precise and the contrast levels are very high as well. What a picture!

       Audio:

    Braveheart features three separate audio tracks including an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track, an English Dolby Digital Surround track and a French Dolby Digital Surround track. The soundtrack can be described in one word: "unbelievable!" For those of you with 5.1 capabilities, I recommend using this audio track. It truly tests the sound barriers of DVD. The battle scenes sound so realistic, you may mistake your subwoofer for the English Calvary riding through your living room. The surround speakers also play an important part in the overall enjoyment of the film. The cries of those being slain in battle, the arrows fired by the archers and even the scenes involving rainfall are always a wonderful presence in the background.

    The dialogue sounds crisp and clear throughout the film. The music soundtrack (like the film) is an epic. James Horner is one of my favorite composers and this soundtrack offers numerous themes, which will give you the chills. From the horrific battles to the romantic love scenes, this is a profoundly moving soundtrack. If you haven't already purchased the Braveheart soundtrack, I highly recommend it. The disc also offers English subtitles (For the deaf and hard of hearing).

       Extras:

    Braveheart offers a few nice features including Interactive Menus, Scene Selection and two Theatrical Trailers. This disc also includes a 30-minute making of the film feature entitled A Filmmaker's Passion: The Making of Braveheart. This feature gives some incite to how the battle scenes were filmed, some on-location filming and some information on how the film was cast. There are also a number of comments regarding the film from Mel Gibson (Director, William Wallace), Sophie Marceau (Princess Isabelle), Catherine McCormack (Murron), Angus McFadyen (Robert The Bruce), Peter Hanly (Prince Edward) and screenwriter Randall Wallace. I saved the best extra feature for last, a full-length audio commentary by Director Mel Gibson. For those of you who have seen Braveheart a few times, I highly recommend watching the film with the audio commentary. Gibson is extremely passionate about this film and the commentary exemplifies it. Since there are English subtitles throughout the commentary, with light sound, one can enjoy both watching the film, and listening to Gibson's commentary simultaneously.


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    Ratings Based on Scale of 1 - 10 (10 being Best)

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