Braveheart Limited Edition Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Braveheart Steelbook 4K ReviewBraveheart is one of those Top 10 films of mine that I will continue to re-purchase without any thought or hesitation every time its available on a newer/better home media format.  First VHS, then DVD to Blu-ray and now I’m bringing this epic war film home again on 4K Ultra HD in a limited edition steelbook edition (available at Best Buy HERE).  There’s just so much I love about Braveheart not to mention the fact that I once dated a descendent of William Wallace’s, so she says.  To me historic pieces of this kind really don’t get any better than this especially under the love, care and ultimately direction of its main star, Mel Gibson.  Say what you want about the man.  He may be a drunk and a reckless person in real life, but he’s one hell of a passionate director when it comes to his film projects.  In this case though Braveheart is both the icing on the cake and the yummy cake itself.  I know it sounds like I’m biased in my words.  I am, but there’s just so much ammo to back up my thoughts here with.  Let’s revisit the years 1995/96 down below in more detail.  Shall we?

Braveheart 4K


Braveheart was released back in 1995.  Mel Gibson directs and stars as William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in a war of independence from King Edward I of England.  Supposedly the story is inspired by Blind Harry’s poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Valleyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace.  It was adapted for the big screen by Randall Wallace.  So many Wallace’s.  Ha ha.  So up above I was praising Braveheart like it was as Earth shattering as peanut butter and jelly, and here’s why I did so.  The people have spoken.  The epic war film was nominated for ten Academy Awards at the 68th Academy Awards and won five: Best Picture (hell yeah!), Best Director (hell yeah again!), Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Best Sound Editing.  Try as you might you cant dispute those hard facts.

Before we talk about what it’s all about I thought it would be cool to revisit the history of how this film almost didn’t get made.  What a tragedy that would have been, eh?  Believe it or not there was difficulty in raising enough monies for funding.  Wow!  That never happens, does it (#sarcasm)?  Word on the street was that Warner Bros. was willing to fund the project only if Mel starred in another Lethal Weapon sequel.  He refused to, but alas Paramount saved the day when Fox agreed to partner with them on international rights.  Whew!  Here’s another very fun fact.  To lower costs, Mel had the same extras, up to 1,600 sources cite in some scenes, portray both armies. So basically they had to swap their military uniforms for peasant garbs and grow beards.  How’s that for using your monies to their fullest potential?  Sadly, Mel was also asked to tone down film’s battle scenes to avoid the kiss-of-death NC-17 rating from the MPAA.  Boo!

I hope you don’t mind spoilers here, but the way I figure it you had plenty of time to have already seen this epic action masterpiece by now and are all here for one simple reason.  You all want to know how it looks and sounds on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.  However, in the rare chance that I’m wrong with my assumption here, please do not read any further than this.  Skip down below to the A/V sections instead.  Consider yourself warned.  There are SPOILERS from here on out.  Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way I guess you can say the story of Braveheart at its most simplistic core is one of a boy meets girl.  It really is that simple.  Here’s the film’s setup below in mere sentences.

Young William Wallace was taken away from Scotland and sort of treated to a life of privilege compared to his fallen father and brother in the war, but he never forgets his first love…um I mean childhood friend, Muron .  Years later he returns for her and the two marry in secret.  However, King Edward “Longshanks” declares Prima Nocte in Scotland and awards his noblemen land.  Long story short Muron finds herself in the middle of all this and after Wallace’s heroics she is captured and publicly executed.  I wish to use a different vocabulary word here, but I’ll keep it PG.  They “messed” with the wrong man’s wife.

The extent to which Wallace goes to not only influence the Scottish to find the courage in themselves to fight for their independence against England, but also avenge his lost love is completely awe striking.  I mean the man singlehandedly takes on the entire country of England to carry out his revenge for Muron’s death and all awhile inspires a nation to rally up behind him, pick up arms and lay down their lives for Wallace’s vision of “freedom.”  If that’s not the ingredients of a successful leader, then I don’t know what constitutes one.  In reality Wallace could have chosen to look the other way and live his life to the fullest given the education he was lucky enough to have been afforded.  However, like any great leader he chose to rise above the adversity of it all and in doing so gave thousands a belief that anything is possible.  

I know this story is a fictional one and no one really knows how it truly went down, but make no mistake about it William Wallace is an inspirational role model to me in the face of all adversity.  Now while this one doesn’t necessarily end on a happy note for my agile hero, his legacy does live on and his vision is ultimately carried out under the reigns of Wallace’s former ally Robert the Bruce.  I just wish he would have been around to see it all.  His execution scene at the end always causes my heart to hurt no matter how many times I have seen this.  It’s downright brutal, but at the same time motivational.  That ladies and gentlemen is the tell of a cinematic masterpiece in both story telling and ultimately onscreen execution.  I’ll leave it at that.  

Braveheart 4K


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Paramount’s Braveheart.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Dolby Vision: Yes (12-bit Dolby Vision)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This 4K presentation is all about the textures throughout.  Sure there is a lot of green fields and rock formations, but I’m talking the clothes.  The costume department outdid themselves.  Every stitch in the plaids, every line of corduroy and every chink in the armor is clear and prominently on display for all to see.  Skin textures definitely aren’t shabby either.  Hairs, moles, imperfections, etc. are clear to make out and ultra realistic looking.  Here’s one for you that you may get a rouse out of.  You know that film big battle sequence where the Scots raise their kilts to show both their posteriors and fronts.  Well, when they show their fronts let’s just see you notice a hell of a lot more detail in 4K than you do on the 1080p Blu-ray.  I’ll table that one right here.
  • Depth: Are you kidding me?  There’s pretty much depth of field every which way you look in this one from the film’s gorgeous geography consisting of mounded battle fields and mountains/hills that go on for ever to the wild action battles themselves.  Another consistent factor you can bank on here is the three-dimensional pop of all the onscreen characters.  This one practically screams dimensions.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are exceptionally deep and inky throughout.  You couldn’t really ask for anything more here and nothing, I mean nothing, gets lost tracking throughout the darkness here.
  • Color Reproduction: Well for starters there’s definitely a lot of green vegetation and geography on display throughout here.  However, it’s the true and natural looking nature of the colors here that give this presentation a 1,2, 3 knockout punch.  Reds and greens pop yes, but it’s that blue war paint that adorns Mel’s faces and others that’s truly the icing on the proverbial cake here.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are perfect throughout with the natural tones and authentic appearance they pronounce.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There was zero to complain about here.  Yes there are a couple soft focus moments and a light veneer filmic grain throughout, but that’s it.  This one is truly remarkable to behold and I really can’t see Braveheart ever looking any better than this.  Never ever.

Braveheart 4K


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Braveheart.  I do want you to know that the  4K UHD Disc comes armed with a Dolby Atmos surround track while the 1080p Blu-ray comes equipped with a 5.1Dolby TrueHD one.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital/Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: This one is all about breathing space.  The real estate given for everything that goes on here is very generous throughout.  It’s well balanced, clear and most of the times completely immersive.  Most importantly though nothing ever gets lost amongst all the high octane action and romping kill sequences throughout Braveheart‘s runtime.
  • Height: The Dolby Atmos channels assist in pushing this surround track over the top with examples of arrows constantly flying overhead, birds, fires burning, outlaw bagpipes and probably my favorite one, bodies hanging.  Let me explain that one really quick.  Near the beginning of the film there’s a scene where young William walks in this hut to find bodies of Scots hanging.  The rope they each were hanging from was so authentic sounding in the resistance it was giving coming from the overhead channels.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel sounds large and in charge here or it may have something to do with bodacious, big action sequences too.  Swords are a clanking, armor is thudding and fires are burning as the LFE channel brings these moments and more to life with the utmost of prominence and ferocity.  The score also lends a helping hand in fleshing the complimentary LFE tones out too here.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels immerse you here in all the moments of battle action, war screams and chaos, but it’s the subtle moments of score that really add a helping hand in the dimensionality and spaciousness of everything going on.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are always clear, concise, clean and directional through the presentation here.  Despite the Scottish accents I never once had any trouble hearing or understanding any spoken word.

Braveheart 4K


You’ll basically find the same hearty extras that have been packaged with Braveheart before, but that’s okay though because the real star of the set is the 4K transfer of the film and of course this limited edition steelbook packaging as shown below.  That’s what you’re all here for anyway!  The inside of the steelbook case is pretty plain where on the inside left is the text “They may take away our lives” and the right side finishes that legendary quote with “But they’ll never take our freedom.”

Braveheart 4K Steelbook

There’s a redemption code for a Digital Copy too!  The lone extra on the 4K UHD disc is the audio commentary with Mel Gibson.  Other than that all extras are as follows on the extra 1080p Blu-ray Disc.  Check them out below!

  • Commentary – The lone commentary track features our leading man Mel Gibson.
  • BRAVEHEART Timelines – There are a total of three timelines here that chronicle the factual history of William Wallace, the fiction of his actions in the film and the movie production timeline.
  • Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion – This one is an interactive map in the four major events in the life of William Wallace.
  • BRAVEHEART: A Look Back (HD, 1:00:23) – This one is a three part retrospective of the making of the film that covers interviews, behind-the-scenes moments, directing, makeup, editing and more.
  • Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields (HD, 25:19) – A look back at the bloody town and where it’s at now.
  • Tales of William Wallace (HD, 29:59) – This one tries to separate the fact from fiction in the film.
  • A Writer’s Journey (HD, 21:30) – Finally this one is all about the writing of the film.

Braveheart 4K


Well there you have it folks.  Braveheart won’t exactly leave you in the best of spirits by its gruesome end, but what an emotional wallop the film still delivers. Even better is the fact that Braveheart has never looked nor sounded as good as it does here on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.  You can take that to the bank and cash it.  With that being said you know what to do now.  Buy!  Buy!  Buy!  Of course I am kidding though.  I DO encourage you to buy this one, but ONLY if you didn’t buy the regular edition yet OR if you’re a huge fan like me.  I mean in reality here the only thing you’re getting different is a steel case.  That one is on you!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.



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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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