Braveheart

Year: 1995
Directed By: Mel Gibson
Written By: Randall Wallace

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was the first epic movie I fell in love with.  Like all boys I had a fascination with sword fighting, battles, and the medieval era.  There were other movies that captured these qualities before but in 1995 Braveheart was the biggest and the best of its genre. I still love the genre but Braveheart has been replaced as my favorite time and time again.  In 2000 Gladiator replaced it, followed almost immediately by The Lord of the Rings trilogy from 2001-03, and now in 2011 I have yet a new favorite again.  HBO’s Game of Thrones is now my favorite epic medieval story.  While only a TV series, it has easily beaten out all the others and if you have not seen it I suggest you call your cable company, add HBO, and get caught up before season 2 starts. Better yet go to your closest book store and buy the book, I will come back to Game of Thrones later.

To be perfectly honest Braveheart isn’t a movie that I’m really interested in at all anymore.  It is a fantastic movie but now I feel like I have outgrown it.  This most likely stems from either watching this movie too many times or maybe because it’s so hard these days to imagine that I ever liked Mel Gibson.  He was a great filmmakers and actor but talk about a far fall from grace.  A lot of the stars from that time have gotten a little crazy as they got older.  Mel Gibson isn’t alone, he has Charlie Sheen making an ass of himself as well, and even Nicolas Cage is acting crazy from time to time.  There are many movies I find it impossible to watch too many times so I doubt that is the problem with this one.  I think that a truly special movie is one that you like more each time you watch it.

This movie offers intense action, captivating drama, love and romance, and best of all, revenge.  Being the closet dork that I am I went beyond the film with Braveheart and also read the book by Randall Wallace when I was a kid.  The book is simply a novelization of the film and while this film is historically based you have to take it with a grain of salt. I have said it before and I will say it again, there are no historically accurate major motion pictures and this one is way off from what I understand.  That doesn’t really matter though does it? Braveheart is badass through and through with incredibly violent and satisfying battles scenes full of blood and gore.  There is nudity too, although Sophie Marceau disappoints us there. Catherine McCormick didn’t let us down though.

Mel Gibson was great both behind the camera and swinging a variety of lethal medieval weapons on the other side of it.  If I remember correctly he accepted two Oscars for this film for Best Direction and Best Picture.  He was on top of the world when this film came out and rode that success for a long time.  I will admit that I was a big fan for a long time and I can still enjoy some of his movies but I cannot stand a bigot.   He made a couple of decent movies after this but as far as his acting goes he peaked with this movie and has yet to make anything else at its level.  Brendan Gleeson has a big part in the film as William Wallace’s childhood friend Hamish.  I am not a fan of Gleeson’s, and he has to be one of those guys that pops up everywhere.  I cannot deny that he is great in this film though, he has a natural place in movies like this.  It could be argued that this was his best film but one must consider Gangs of New York, and several others that I’m sure would come to mind if I gave it more thought.  Patrick McGoohan is fantastic as Edward the Longshanks, sinister and evil to the core. He has such an important part in this film because the villain can make these movies just as much as the hero can.  The villain must inspire fear and anger to make you love the hero more, it is a challenging part to play.  This movie does coincidentally have a connection to Game of Thrones as James Cosmo plays a part in both, in this film as Hamish’s father and in the HBO series as Lord Commander Jeor Mormont.  What’s really amazing is that he manages to look younger 16 years later.

One of the reasons I love doing this blog is because it gives me a reason to watch some of my movies like this one that I probably wouldn’t watch again otherwise.  I own a lot of movies that I don’t watch anymore but have because they meant something to me at one time in my life.  I might not love this movie like I used to but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great movie and that it isn’t worth your time.  This is a long movie at just shy of three hours but that’s nothing for an epic.  This movie may be a mini epic, but it still fits the bill.  This was considered the best movie of 1995 at the Academy Awards and for good reason, I hope you give it a chance yourself and enjoy it.

Now to venture off topic for a moment and discuss the HBO series Game of Thrones.  A while back Amber and I decided that we were so satisfied with our HBO TV shows that we would give any new series a chance.  When Game of Thrones  was being advertised I was obviously really excited but Amber was reluctant. She said she would give it one episode.  We are now currently both about half way through the FIFTH book in the Game of Thrones series, A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin.  To put it to you this way, we have read somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 pages of this story collectively.  We wouldn’t give that much time to anything if it wasn’t worth it and I hope to encourage you to give it a chance.  Martin has written a really powerful story that is out of control awesome all the time.  I am amazed how daring he is, he has created many incredible and interesting characters, and he will kill any one of them at any time without hesitation.  However it seems that for every great character he kills he creates at least five more interesting characters in their place. HBO has invested a lot of capital into this series and it is the production that makes or breaks this kind of story. Costumes, locations, sets, casting, and all the little things that so many of us know nothing about.  Both Braveheart and Game of Thrones have great production work, but I wouldn’t be writing about them if they didn’t.  I cannot truly tell you how awesome Game of Thrones is, it’s something that you will have to find out for yourself, and I hope that I have encouraged you to do so.

One final note about Braveheart too, I didn’t mention it but there was actually some controversy surrounding the film when it came out. There was some question as to whether or not horses were killed on set during the first battle scene when the Scots dramatically raise spears at the last moment in defense against the charging English Calvary.  I think this was an easy thing for Mel “I’m on top of the world” Gibson to get out of  in 1995 but 16 years later we all know how crazy the man really is, and you just have to wonder….. Watching it now I’m wondering if those actually were real horses, it looks pretty damn real.  I bet psycho Mel Gibson actually killed many horses when making this movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I was actually feeling bad that I had nothing to say about this movie. I don’t really like it. I know that is a crazy thing to say when so many people like it, but I hate it. But, after seeing the novel that Ryan wrote in review of this film, I am going to leave it at that. I don’t like this movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Burn After Reading (2008)

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