The Master of Ballantrae

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

As I mention later in the review, The Master of Ballantrae isn’t a flick to watch for an engrossing storyline, not even close. The film has cool action sequences and some good moments, but the plot leaves a lot to be desired. So much so that when I sat down to type out this synopsis, I struggled to put together six or seven sentences. Almost all films can be broken down into simple pods and such, but this one stumped me. I mean, I can package even the dullest storyline and make it sound halfway interesting, but with The Master of Ballantrae, I was left baffled and as such, I could not write a traditional synopsis. So instead, I want to discuss Errol Flynn’s performance and as far as storyline, suffice it to say that The Master of Ballantrae is a wild, swashbuckling adventure that keeps a brisk pace. As we all know, Flynn was a master of epic adventures, quick with a sword, great with action scenes, and of course, his screen presence was impressive. But in this movie, his prime had passed and while he seems interested, he lacks the physical punch and overall presence he once had on screen. Even so, he brings a great turn to The Master of Ballantrae, even if he relies on a stunt double more than he should. So don’t expect one of his greatest efforts, but its always a pleasure to watch Flynn in action.

I suppose you could call this a popcorn swashbuckler, as it has great action scenes, but the storyline is less than impressive. Then again, sometimes you just want to be entertained and if that’s the case, The Master of Ballantrae should deliver. The historical aspect of this picture isn’t even close to accurate, but as a swordfight seems to break loose every few minutes, you might not even notice the plot holes and such. Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood) was in numerous sword slicing epics and while this is by no means one of his best, he is fun to watch, as always. This movie was made after most of his better works had been released, so Flynn isn’t at his best, but his performance is more than solid. If you’ve never seen a Flynn film however, start elsewhere, as you might be let down by his effort in The Master of Ballantrae. You can find fault in the storyline and Flynn’s performance isn’t one of his best, but you can’t knock the action in this one, as it comes often and with effective results. Jack Cardiff’s photography is excellent also, so the visuals shine and that adds a lot to the experience. I am kind of let down by Warner’s disc however, as no real supplements have been included. As such, unless you’re a Flynn completist, The Master of Ballantrae is recommended as a rental.

Video: How does it look?

The Master of Ballantrae is presented in full frame, as intended. I was pleased with the visual effort here, but you can tell there has been no restoration work done. Some of Warner’s older works have been fully restored and others given a quick clean, but this movie hasn’t been bothered with and it shows. The print is worn in places, some worse than others, with grain, marks, and nicks present in most sequences. This yields a soft, worn visual texture, but given the age of the material involved, we can overlook some of those defects. The colors shine in this treatment, with vibrant hues in every scene and no signs of error in the least. I found contrast to be a tad soft, but even so, black levels look solid and consistent. A bit of restoration could have done wonders here, but even as it stands, this movie looks more than acceptable.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original mono track is used and while it has no bells & whistles, the basics are present and in fine form. The audio has no traces of age related problems I could hear and though mono is limited, the range was quite good given those limits. The music sounds clean and bold, with no distortion and the sound effects come across well also here. The main focus is the dialogue however, which sounds clean and crisp throughout the film, no problems in the least to report. This might not be an explosive mix, but given the age and nature of the movie, this is an impressive offering. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, just in case you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a selection of promotional materials (stills, posters, artwork, etc.), as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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