Watchable? Yes. Good cinema? No.
The main criticism of ‘Braveheart’ seems to be that it is totally historically inaccurate and it is. Events were twisted to the extent that any credibility is wiped out immediately: the princess would have been about three when William Wallace died, the Battle of Stirling Bridge is missing a bridge, and the costume dating is comparable to 18th Century Traders wearing modern day business suits. I can however cope with this, I am more than aware that the plot of ‘Amadeus’ is completely fabricated, and it takes nothing away from the film, but ‘Braveheart’ is billed as a historical epic, and really needs to have something in it that is slightly accurate to be taken seriously.
That, however, is not my main criticism of ‘Braveheart’. My main criticism of this film is that it is nothing more than blockbuster pulp fiction masquerading as something much more serious, and this is largely due to Mel Gibson’s over the top, subtle as a breezeblock performance as the hero William Wallace. The character that he creates is totally one dimensional. He is the good guy, and even after this lengthy film is over we still know nothing about this character and nothing about the subtleties of the how Wallace or any of the supporting characters feel: essentially this is an empty film.
I can only assume that Gibson (who also directed this film) has something against the English. He shows every English character to be totally evil and also totally stupid. Every English person in the film seems to like nothing more than to rape, pillage and murder, and whereas they seem to have a pretty firm stronghold over Scotland, the English King is so stupid that he fires arrows at his own army. The English in ‘Braveheart’ make the orcs in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ look like the children in the ‘The Sound of Music’. I appreciate the fact that the English are easy targets with their numerous colonies, but to portray a whole nation as being quite this hideous is bordering on racism. You would be hard pushed to find another film that makes a whole race of people look quite this venomous.
The scenery is beautiful and makes you want to go to Scotland to see such landscapes (and also to get out of England for fear of being slaughtered by my fellow countrymen either accidently or on purpose), but other qualities are few and far between. I urge anyone about to watch this film to watch it for what it is: a thoughtless crowd-pleaser about goodies and badies, and remember that it is not a film to be taken remotely seriously.