Review: Braveheart (4K)

“They may take away our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

‘Braveheart,’ how can you put a movie like this into words? Critically, it won Best Picture in 1995, but in total, it took home five Academy Awards. What’s even more impressive than that is the fact that it was nominated for ten. In this brand new release, the original film master was scanned in native 4K, plus it’s been given color grades in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, along with a theatrical aspect of 2.39.1. What do you get when you put it all together? A top notch presentation of Mel Gibson’s greatest work.

Plot: William Wallace is the medieval Scottish patriot who is spurred into revolt against the English when the love of his life is slaughtered. Leading his army into battles that become a war, his advance into England threatens King Edward I’s throne before he is captured and executed, but not before becoming a symbol for a free Scotland.

Director: Mel Gibson

Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1

Runtime: 177 min

Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 77% IMDB 8.4/10

Unboxing (see below)

Review: This transfer brings all the little things to the forefront, from the noticeable wet textures on the stones, grass and mud to the high levels of details on characters faces, down to the pores on their skin. I mean you can tell the difference between dry dirt and blood on faces vs. wet mud and fresh blood. Sometimes it seems repetitive talking about details, but the 4K UHD mixed with HDR makes it astonishing in a film like this one. It’s dramatically better.

Sure, there is little grain in high intensity and long shots to keep the cinematic look, plus some soft shots, but nothing that takes away from the movie. When you can dig in to the silhouettes casted in front of a night fire, or the flames roaring in the distance — to scenes that take place dusk with murky skies, you would think it would be washed out, but everything is highlighted impressively. The dark scenes are the right amount of dark and the levels of black against color are definite. The color palette throughout the movie and the textures in all the clothing benefited from this transfer greatly.

I jotted down some of highlights during last night’s watch — not to say that this is all of them, just some of the things that caught my eye.

Chapter 2

When William stars off into the empty distance of hills just before night. The lighting throughout the entire shot makes it feel like you are standing there with him, down to the shadows casted and dirt detail on his face. The lighting in the shot is near-perfect with dark greens hitting nicely in the distance and blue hues looking spot on in the night sky.

When William gets handed the flower from Murron. There are no words in this scene, but the clarity is what UHD enhances in the emotion of a film like this one.

Chapter 3

When Wallace returns to his childhood home you get super clear close-ups of Mel Gibson’s face for the fist time since he was a boy. All the details on the scenery around the home like the grass, rocks and rubble is super precise.

Chapter 10 & 11

The first main battle scene you get great shots of all the men lined in wearing different types of fabrics and material ranging across the board on both sides — armor to kilts. This chapter includes Wallace with the iconic blue painted face, bolder than ever before.

Also, the post-battle roar from Wallace — you get the iconic blue painted face with smeared and splattered blood mixed along with drenched post-battle clothes… all against a clear blue sky. It’s a reference shot. Wow!

Chapter 16

Wallace runs through the mountains and the HDR shines with enhanced greens and textures on the rock formations. You then get a drone-like panorama shot in a full 360 degree look with all the details and highlights looking like it was shot yesterday.

Side note: there were a lot of awesome close-ups that you will notice along the duration of the movie. It may seem repetitive again to talk about close-ups, but the clarity shines in these sequences.

Audio & Subtitles

Blu-Ray:

English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, French & Spanish

4K UHD:

English Dolby Atoms, French & Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, French & Spanish

Special Features

Blu-Ray:

1) Commentary by Mel Gibson 2) Braveheart Timelines 3) Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion 4) Braveheart: A Look Back 5) Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields 6) Tales of William Wallace 7) A Writer’s Journey

4K UHD:

1) Commentary by Mel Gibson

Conclusion:

‘Braveheart’ is an amazing film that’s full of emotion. You will laugh, cry, and yes, there is ruthless violence all around it. The acting is top notch and every time a moment needs to hit, it does so in dramatic fashion. It sends a powerful message and looks amazing in 4K UHD. This is Mel Gibson’s finest work to date and it’s never looked or sounded better. If you’re a fan of this movie, it’s definitely worth the upgrade so make sure you pick it up when it releases via Paramount Tuesday, May 15th.

Cheers,

Matt.