May 29, 1995 -- ``Braveheart'' is a big, old-fashioned Hollywood epic, the kind of film that only Hollywood can make, like ``Spartacus'' or ``Glory,'' it is primarily a film about war. Its strengths and weaknesses are similar to other films of this ilk.
The battle scenes are great, if somewhat gory. There are beheadings, eye gougings, throat cuttings and other bloody deeds. The battles are large in scale and well-staged. The photography at the Scottish locations and special effects gore are good. The musical score is outstanding with both simple Scottish tunes and big dramatic scores performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
What fails is character development. Despite the two and a half hour length of the film, we really get to know only one of the characters very well. Even the main character, William Wallace (Mel Gibson) remains somewhat of a mystery. Wallace heads up a rebellion of Scots against an English tyrant King Edward (Longshanks) I, perfectly played by Patrick McGoohan.
Despite all the battle scenes, there are a lot of Machiavellian political double-dealings going on at the same time. It is through these back-stabbing deals that we get to know the one character, Robert the Bruce, played by Angus McFadyen. Although he's playing a supporting role, McFadyen gets some of the best scenes in the film.
In addtion to starring in the film, Gibson also directs it, and does so impressively. His character, Wallace, is based on a historical character. I don't know how accurate the history is, but based on the number of Wallaces (including screenplay writer Randall Wallace) in the credits, it ought to be close. The film rates a B.
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