Braveheart (1995)

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

Justin’s Rating: So you’ll be leaving soon? Ayeee.

Justin’s Review: From William Wallace’s Big Book ‘O Leadership Tips:

  • Sacrifice A Young (Ex-)Virgin To Get Things Going — Sure, your country might be invaded and your people severely oppressed, but you need that extra oomph that only a martyred love can provide to get the revenge juices flowing. Don’t forget to pick up a bloody keepsake after the unfortunate execution!
  • Scots Are Into Throwing Rocks And Giving Speeches — Either one of these is good to get a mob riled up into a fighting battle force. If you have no rocks, large chunks of good moor sod may be substituted.
  • Apparently, The English Have Never Heard Of Spears — Use this to your immediate advantage and make horse-ka-bobs.
  • Recruit An Insane Irishman — Hey, these guys bring the best booze to the battles!
  • Blue Fingerpaint Inspires Fear — Usually, it inspires fear in your mother, who certainly didn’t raise you to be splashing on a prostitute’s worth of makeup to go prance around in some sort of battle!
  • Mooning Is An Acceptable Offensive Tactic — Also, add a dash of Mr. Willy in there, and you’ll get the bad guys running scared.
  • English Armor Is Just Like Stormtrooper Armor — Neither stops squat. Go ahead and wear a kilt or a toga or whatever it is you crazy kids wear to wars these days: you won’t get a scratch.
  • Steal Stormtrooper, er, English Uniforms To Sneak Into The Enemy Base — Then, flush all their toilets simultaneously and sneak the heck out!
  • Choose Your Enemies Wisely — A dying king with a phlegmy cough and the most pasty prince in all of history will do most nicely.
  • Poisoned Daggers Are For Wussies; Use A Horse And A Morningstar For Assassinations — Better yet, ride the horsie up many flights of stairs into a small bedchamber, then make the equestrian leap out of a window into a moat afterwards! Horses live for this sort of thing.
  • The French Make Good Spies, So Seduce One — Also, they know this really great type of kissing you just gotta try!
  • Keep Your Enemy Off Their Guard By Allowing Yourself To Be Betrayed And Captured With No Protection Around Whatsoever — They’ll never be expecting that from a military genius! Now, all you have to do to ensure victory is…
  • Die A Horrible, Bloody, Screaming Death In Front Of The Crowds — While it doesn’t feel that grand, your enemies will never, ever expect that you have the magical power to return from the dead and smite those who oppress… what? You don’t have that power? Oh, um… hey, just keep looking at that gross bloody keepsake you got from earlier. Yeah. I’m sure that’ll help with the pain.

Lissa’s Rating: Freedooooooooooooooom!!!

Lissa’s Review: As we watched Braveheart last night, something occurred to me. Denied the right to learn to fight with proper weapons like swords and lances, the Scottish in this movie got very creative with their weapon choices. In fact, I’m not sure I’d let an angry Scotsman near me with as much as a spoon, much less any other household implements.

Despite being a sword-swinging, fantasy loving, red-blooded (i.e., Mel Gibson drooling) kind of gal, for some reason I’d never managed to see Braveheart. Don’t ask me why, I suspect the answer has to do with the three-hour running time. Which is really, really dumb because Braveheart is totally up my alley and except for a few gory bits where I covered my eyes, I loved every second of it. Add to those facts that I’m pretty sure it was required viewing for my college fencing team, and you’ve got me as to why I waited so long.

Far from perfect (see Justin’s review), Braveheart is based on the life of William Wallace, who led the Scottish uprising against England. I seriously doubt it’s historically accurate, but then it doesn’t claim to be, so I’m not going to get too worked up over it. (Yes, Pearl Harbor, I’m talking to you.) Like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the characters (well, most of em) take themselves so freaking seriously that there’s tons of MST3K-like opportunities. (Plus, William Wallace and Aragorn must exchange hygiene tips or something.)

But that’s all right, because Braveheart is a fun movie.

Okay, so it’s not fun like American Pie or A Knight’s Tale or anything else most people would call “fun.” But Braveheart had something that surprised me — a sense of humor. I wasn’t expecting that, especially since I’d heard so much about William Wallace’s death scene (which was far much less gruesome than I anticipated.) David O’Hara as Stephen, the Irish fighter, is a great source of comic relief, and even Gibson’s Wallace cracks a smile every now and then. In many ways, it reminded me of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, except our hero is much more bloodthirsty and creative, and for the most part, Mel Gibson can do a Scottish accent.

But what really makes Braveheart fun are the melees. Tell me you can watch this movie and then not want to pick up a sword and start staging boffer weapon battles out on the Quad. It’s simply not possible.

After a round of bad movies, it was a relief to pop in something that I actually thought was good, and could enjoy thoroughly. And, of course, the obvious success of this movie can be judged from the number of Braveheart-inspired jokes in Chicken Run. (For that reason alone, Braveheart justifies its existence.) Any hey, any time Mel Gibson feels like mooning the camera, well now, that’s all right with me!

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