Braveheart: Special Collector’s Edition

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Scotland is locked under the iron hand of English control, as Edward the Long Shanks (Patrick McGoohan) exercises his power in cruel fashion whenever possible. As a child, William Wallace (Mel Gibson) lost his family to the English soldiers, but now he has returned back home as an adult to start a new life. He re-connects with Mirran (Catherine McCormack), with whom he shared a bond in childhood, sparking an instant romance. The two marry in secret, but a tragic turn occurs when English soldiers attempt to rape her and when she resists, she is executed. Now Wallace, who simply wanted to farm and start a family, must follow his heart and lead an uprising against incredible odds. But even with his boundless passion for freedom, can he lead his fellow Scots in a rebellion, or are the English just too much?

Now this is how you create an epic. Braveheart is a modern masterpiece, a powerful epic that combined brutal violence with genuine emotion, a rare feat in this genre. The film was nominated for ten Oscars and took home five, including Best Director for Mel Gibson and Best Picture. While a slew of star studded epics were unleashed in its wake, to me Braveheart remains the finest and it still retains its full power. Even twelve years later, Braveheart is powerful with its emotional content, from the loss of love to the thirst for true freedom. Gibson’s direction is superb and he plays the lead with immense skill, he proves here is a force in cinema and to me, this is his crowning achievement. This an epic of course, which means battles and few films can boast the kind of raw impact and brutality of the ones here. Simply put, the film excels on all fronts, from the story to the direction to the visuals to the cast, things just fall into perfect order. This two disc edition has a much improved visual treatment, added supplements, and a low price, so for fans, this Special Collector’s Edition is a must have.

Video: How does it look?

Braveheart is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. As I mentioned above, this is a new transfer and without doubt, it is a welcome step up over the previous release. This new version sports richer, warmer colors, so the greens look lush and the blues just shine. The colors really enhance the landscape shots, with a more natural, beautiful presence. The flesh tones get a more accurate spin out of this too, which is great news. The print also looks cleaner here and by turn, we have sharper, more refined visuals all around. No one will mistake this for high definition, but this new transfer offers sizable enhancements and fans should be beyond satisfied here.

Audio: How does it sound?

I didn’t notice a lot of difference between the soundtracks, but regardless, the audio is fine. The surrounds kick in at all the expected moments, so battles rage across the speakers with forceful impact. The bass kicks often and kicks hard, which also adds to the experience. Also in powerful form is the musical score, which sounds excellent here and has an ideal level of presence. No issues with the lower key elements either, as vocals sound great and small scale sound effects are accurate. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Mel Gibson’s audio comments return and while the movie runs almost three hours, the director provides a consistent stream of production information. He is relaxed and laid back, which yields an enjoyable experience that might not be the most informative track out there, but it is a good one. There are some silent stretches, but given the film’s length, that is to be expected and overall, Gibson fills a good amount of time here. Alba Gu Brath is a three part look inside the production that has some great content, from extensive interviews to on set footage, all worth a look. These aren’t as in depth as some might like, but they offer a lot of insight and are well worth the time to check out. Additional featurettes include a look at how William Wallace was brought from history to the screen, as well as how writer Randall Wallace crafted the tale of one of his ancestors. This release also includes some archival interviews, as well as two of the film’s theatrical trailers.

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