Braveheart 4K Ultra HD Steelbook

Featured In Issue 250, June/July 2020

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Paramount Home Entertainment
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Brutal medievil warfare
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Mel Gibson
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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This is the 25th anniversary edition of "Braveheart," a richly detailed saga of power, passion, and the fight for freedom. Mel Gibson stars as William Wallace, a bold Scotsman who rallies his countrymen to liberation from oppressive English rule. (Gary Reber)

Special features include previously released commentary by Mel Gibson; five featurettes: "Braveheart: Battlefields Of The Scottish Rebellion" (HD 45:26), "Braveheart: A Look Back" (HD 60:23), "Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields" (HD 25:19), "Tales Of William Wallace" (HD 29:59) and "A Writer's Journey" (HD 21:30); two theatrical trailers; Braveheart Timelines and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2.35:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on Eastman film stock in anamorphic Panavision® using the Panavision Panaflex Platinum camera system and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. The imagery exhibits refined filmic grain. The wide color gamut enhancement is spectacular, exhibiting a beautiful picture with lush warm and rich colors. The wide spectrum of nuanced natural hue shadings captivate. This is evident in earthy mountainous vista hues, green grasses, browns of tree trunks, village dirt floors, gray stone interiors, gray shadings of rock structures, brown horses, foggy mountainous terrain, a raging fire blaze, fresh and dried red blood from battles, face paints, worn metal weapons, etc. The color palette is perfectly saturated. HDR contrast is superb with perfect black levels and delineation of shadows in dark interiors. White levels are exhibited in natural daylight, fire and candlelit lighting, dazzling silver armor and other aspects of John Toll's wonderful Academy Award®-winning cinematography. Fleshtones are perfectly natural and expressive of fine details in skin pores, hair, beards, war paint and caked-on blood and dirt. None of these defining characteristics appear out of place or unnatural. Resolution is excellent, exhibiting perfectly defined characters, clothing, and weaponry, as well as nicely resolved battlefields and intimate interiors. WOW! segments are from 46:00 to 52:34, 01:38:08 to 01:39:43, 02:14:46 to 02:16:17, 02:30:16 to 02:32:45 and 02:37:24 to 02:39:02. This is one gorgeous picture that oozes with filmic and textural wonder. This is the absolute reference edition for this classic film. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack has been repurposed from the original sound elements for an exceptionally impressive holosonic® spherical surround presentation. Spatial dimensionality is superb, as well as overall clarity. James Horner's beautiful orchestral/choral score floats in space with a very wide frontal soundstage that progresses to the rear of the soundfield with effectively strong surround envelopment. The music is prominent throughout the presentation. Not only is the instrumentation well articulated but the score provides a powerful and natural deep bass extension. Bass also is enhanced in the .1 LFE with powerful thunder, intense galloping horses, fierce combat sonics of armored attire and roaring fires. Other sound effects are comprised of chaotic battle sonics, such as a multitude of thuds, sword clanks, and screams, which during fierce hand-to-hand combat is loud. Atmospheric supports are wonderful and precise and enhance the sense of realism. Foley sound effects are meticulously crafted and effectively enhance realism and the suspension of disbelief. Dialogue is intelligible throughout with both naturally integrated and ADR positioning.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised primarily of the orchestral/choral score extended to the height layer. In an early scene birds and a bird panned from right back to left front height is very effective. Atmospherics and sound effects occur throughout such as wind din, galloping horses, subtle bird chirping, heavy rainfall, thunder, whizzing arrows, men on the battlefield yelling as they fight, men's voices, the roar of intense fire and other subtle effects. There is an effective discrete positioning and panning of sound effects. This is a good utilization of the height layer.

The repurposed Dolby Atmos soundtrack is exciting, dynamic, and spatially dimensional, deserving of the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. Fans of this classic will be mesmerized. (Gary Reber)