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post #1 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Gladiator: 20th Anniversary Ultra HD Blu-ray Review



Ralph Potts reviews the 20th Anniversary Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited-Edition Steelbook release of Gladiator, Director Ridley Scott’s epic which won 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92



Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount/DreamWorks - 2000
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Feature running time: 155/171 Minutes
Genre: Action/Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X/English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, English DTS Headphone: X, Spanish/French Dolby Digital
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish, French, Korean
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson
Region Code: A


Release Date: June 16, 2020


"My Name is Gladiator"


Synopsis:


My Take:

I reviewed Gladiator’s 2018 Ultra HD Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, bonus content and Ultra HD audio/video will be the same, as they are identical to that release. The difference here is that this limited-edition offering comes in collectible steelbook packaging.

Note: There are spoilers contained below. Skip to paragraph four to avoid them.


Gladiator is an epic film from Paramount and director Ridley Scott that revolves around Roman General Maximus Meridius (Crowe), that begins with the Roman Army’s to victory against Germanic barbarians in the year A.D. 180, ending a prolonged war, and earning the esteem of elderly Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Harris). As the battle come to its conclusion Commodus (Phoenix) and Lucilla (Nielsen) son and daughter of Marcus Aurelius arrive in Germania to meet with their father. Although the dying Aurelius has a male heir, Commodus, he decides to appoint temporary leadership to the morally-upstanding Maximus, with the desire to return power to the Roman Senate, effectively reviving the Republic.

Aurelius meets with Maximus privately and speaks candidly about his feelings for him and his wishes. Afterward he offers him time to consider before informing Commodus. Marcus meets with Commodus and breaks the news to him before receiving an answer from Maximus. Commodus goes into an emotional rage and smothers his father to death. He declares himself the emperor and asks Maximus for his loyalty, which Maximus, realizing Commodus' involvement in the Emperor's death, refuses. Commodus orders Maximus' execution and dispatches Praetorian Guards to murder his wife and son. Maximus narrowly escapes his execution, but is injured in the process. He races home only to discover his wife and son charred and their bodies crucified in the smoldering ruins of his home.

After burying his wife and son, a grieving Maximus succumbs to exhaustion and collapses on their graves. Maximus is found by slave traders and sold into slavery. He is bought by a Proximo (Reed) a gladiatorial fight promoter/trainer and ex-gladiator who soon discovers that once spurred to fight Maximus thrills crowds with his superior swordsmanship, leadership and vicious style. For Maximus there is one thing that motivates him, the opportunity to avenge his murdered wife and son, by killing Commodus. His fame and crowd pleasing wins in the arena provide him with that opportunity as he comes face to face with Commodus and challenges him before all of Rome.

I saw Gladiator during its theatrical run and multiple times now on home video. This is an epic style film that holds up incredibly well under repeat viewings. This is due to its superb balance of action, drama, and lightly historical significance. Additionally, it features dynamic, well executed action choreography, strong casting, and excellent direction. Academy Award winner Russell Crowe tows the line and is the catalyst that establishes the connection between Maximus and the story. For me this is Joaquin Phoenix’s finest performance and unfortunately the swansong for the versatile and perfectly selected Oliver Reed. This is to take nothing away from the remaining cast, specifically Djimon Hounsou and Connie Nielsen that offered strong supporting roles.

This Sapphire Series contains both the theatrical and extended version of the film which adds an additional 16 minutes of footage. In my opinion the additional scenes didn’t add or take away anything from theatrical version. Both are fine but if I had to choose I would prefer the theatrical cut. Gladiator may not have the depth of the better classic films that depict its subject matter but, make no mistake that it has made its mark as a cinematic work and is one of my personal favorites.

This 20th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release comes in a Limited Edition Steelbook:



Replay Value:


Parental Guide:

Both versions contain intense and graphic combat/battle sequences.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:



UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:




DTS:X Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness of platform:
  • Entertainment factor:



Gladiator comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS:X/7.1 Master Audio sound.

Gladiator was shot on 35mm film, and Its presentation in Ultra HD appears to be derived from the same source that was used for its re-mastered 2010 Blu-ray release. It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Gladiator has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

This is a period specific and stylized film that strives to recreate the look and feel of director Ridley Scott’s vision. Epic is both narrative and scope, that vision comes through in this Ultra HD presentation. With a discernible increase in detail and dimension the image appears more vivid and lifelike when compared to the 1080p version, which is excellent in its own right.

The opening sequence with its dreary aesthetic, teal cast and gritty image captures the visceral depiction of battle. High dynamic range provides the catapulted fireballs and flaming arrows with excellent visual pop. The same is true afterward in the Roman army’s encampment as the incandescent lighting illuminates the rows of tents and interior of Caesar’s dwelling.

The image comes alive after Maximus’ capture as the sun-drenched arenas deliver gorgeous vistas via the natural rendering of light and its discernible stages and incremental highlights. On the flip side, dark elements mixed with bright highlights simply look terrific, revealing deep rich blacks and delineated shadows. The film’s plethora of close up camera angles shows off the superb rendering of detail. At times the level of minutia is excellent, making even the finest nuance in facial features, period clothing, sets, and props is resolvable. Gladiator isn’t a colorful film per se but, the use of color to set the tone of a scene is very effective and Ultra HD’s wide color gamut allows them to shine adding an enriching element that underscores that purpose.

The difference between viewing Gladiator in high definition and Ultra HD isn't night and day, but it most certainly benefitted from the increase in resolution, and high dynamic range treatment. I was extremely pleased with this presentation and hope to see more catalog releases like it.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for Gladiator, I found the rendering of HDR to be essentially identical. As stated earlier, this film’s predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the type of eye catching HDR that makes the format shine. You can’t go wrong with either as the both look great.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


DTS:X:

In listening to the DTS:X sound mix I was pleased with how it was implemented. The use of overhead sounds elevates proportional correlation. When compared to the 5.1 channel mix, the immersive sound offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage and elevating the perception of low level detail. During the various battles within the confines of the coliseum/exterior venues, the tracks brim with atmospherics that adds an enriching layer to the film’s soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the beginning, with the battle in Germania, and then throughout. Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack is the star of the show, at times taking a subtle or more active approach, conveying the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtracks while adding a complimentary element. I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation and had a blast revisiting it.



For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Gladiator Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Gladiator Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
    • Introduction by Ridley Scott (Extended Edition)
    • Commentary by director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe (Extended Edition)
    • Commentary by director Ridley Scott, editor Pietro Scalia and cinematographer John Mathieson (Theatrical Edition)
    • Introduction by Ridley Scott (Extended Edition)
    • Commentary by director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe (Extended Edition)
    • Commentary by director Ridley Scott, editor Pietro Scalia and cinematographer John Mathieson (Theatrical Edition)
    • The Scrolls of Knowledge
    • Deleted Scenes Index with Optional Commentary by Ridley Scott
    • Visions from Elysium: Topic Portal
    • Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator
    • Image & Design: Storyboard Demonstration, Storyboard Archive, Costume Design Gallery, Photo Galleries
    • Abandoned Sequences & Deleted Scenes
    • The Aurelian Archives – My Gladiator Journal by Spencer Treat Clark
    • And More
    • Limited-Edition Steelbook Packaging
  • Digital Copy




Final Thoughts:

Gladiator is a powerful and exciting film that essentially made Russell Crowe a household name. Its mix of evocative storytelling, engaging battles, and epic scope not only earned it 5 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Crowe) and Best Picture, but make it a compelling film that has found its rightful place in the video collections of many. Its highly anticipated release on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment is a good one that features excellent Ultra HD video, an engaging DTS:X
Sound mix that enhances the film’s thematic impact, legacy bonus features and steelbook limited-edition packaging. Gladiator is a must own that belongs in every Ultra HD Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended!















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


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post #2 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 07:37 AM
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This is one of my favourite films and I really like the bass in the scene where you have the catapults shooting the 'flaming boulders'. Might re-acquire this in 4K - George
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post #3 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 10:19 AM
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Well I guess that Paramount has to make some money somewhere given how few decent releases have come out since the pandemic hit us. It is a very nice looking steel book but I'll stick with my regular first release.
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post #4 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 10:26 AM
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Well I guess that Paramount has to make some money somewhere given how few decent releases have come out since the pandemic hit us. It is a very nice looking steel book but I'll stick with my regular first release.
I've chosen to only buy 4K content released in Steelbook format. Will be the last time I ever buy any particular title so it may as well be worthy of collecting. Zavvi has been getting all my money lately.
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post #5 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the review @Ralph Potts , will look into this one, as I do remembering enjoying this film.
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post #6 of 25 Old 06-17-2020, 11:08 AM
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You can imagine my surprise when I clicked on the AVS Forum only to see this review of Gladiator. I thought it had come out ages ago; so was this a whole new version, a whole new technical upgrade? My mind went round like a one armed slot machine....was I asleep all this time? Did I only dream that I already had it? Self doubt is a powerful thing and after reading this excellent review, immediately ran to the theater room to double check that I, indeed, had the UHD film. I did, with theatrical and extended versions intact.

Please Ralph, in the future, when a steel book version comes out, please be sure to state that other than the case there is no difference between the versions on the disc...or if there is a difference, please state what those differences are.
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PS....Okay, I went back and re read the review and you do state the sameness except the case in the very first paragraph.....Do you see what panic can do to a man?
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Jeez how many times am I going to have to buy the re-releases of Gladiator

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post #8 of 25 Old 06-18-2020, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wookiegr View Post
I've chosen to only buy 4K content released in Steelbook format. Will be the last time I ever buy any particular title so it may as well be worthy of collecting. Zavvi has been getting all my money lately.
One of my favorite cases is the Zavvi steelbook for First Man.
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post #9 of 25 Old 06-18-2020, 05:44 AM
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Bought the disc and I have the 4k version from iTune the disc sound is totally more robust more body, the bass pretty tight than the iTune but 4k pic looks the same . My iTune Gladiator switched from 4k to Dolby Vision but the audio still sounds flat compare to disc tho .

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post #10 of 25 Old 06-18-2020, 06:06 AM
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I don't have a UHD player and I've only just upgraded from the Gladiator DVD to Blu-ray! The original Blu-ray got terrible reviews, the DVD was state of the art for its time, and so I never bothered to upgrade. What I didn't know was, there was a secret remaster of the Blu-ray video a couple of years after the original release because of all the criticism. The remaster is identified by the hub code B1R2, the original was B1R1, that's the only way to tell the two apart. The DVD alternates from natural filmic look to a digital look, scene by scene, the Blu-ray is natural all the way thru.
My question is: doesn't Gladiator contain a ton of 720p/1080p CGI? If so, how has that translated to UHD?
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post #11 of 25 Old 06-19-2020, 08:19 AM
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Even with Dolby vision many new movies which are shot with digital cameras and have a lot of CGI utilize 2K which takes away from 4k scenes but still thanks to Apple iTunes for upgrading to Dolby Vision version automatically but the sound codec with iTune still not up to par with disc .

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post #12 of 25 Old 06-20-2020, 05:02 AM
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Gladiator CGI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soccerdude View Post
Even with Dolby vision many new movies which are shot with digital cameras and have a lot of CGI utilize 2K which takes away from 4k scenes but still thanks to Apple iTunes for upgrading to Dolby Vision version automatically but the sound codec with iTune still not up to par with disc .
I'd heard the CGI rendering time for 4K is unacceptable and most CGI is still 720p/1080p. It sounds as though you've watched Gladiator in 4K, how did the CGI hold up?
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If there was something negative about the CGI, Ralph would certainly have pointed it out in his review. You can trust any review of his.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor_Bartram View Post
I'd heard the CGI rendering time for 4K is unacceptable and most CGI is still 720p/1080p. It sounds as though you've watched Gladiator in 4K, how did the CGI hold up?
The coliseum scenes when the camera pulls back looks cartoonish and very CGI like artifacts , but the night scenes , the forest scenes where the CGI wasn't used or very little look utterly brilliant.As usual the audio from the disc has more body and bass where the PCM 48hrz from ATV 4k box very flat.

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post #15 of 25 Old 06-20-2020, 01:24 PM
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Hey Ralph, thanks for "reminding me" of how much I love this classic film, though I did realize immediately that I had the 2018 release. Now you have "whetted my appetite" to view it again! I will pass on the Steelbook edition.

Gladiator and Braveheart are two of my favorites; in fact, I can safely say they're in my "Top Ten!"
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post #16 of 25 Old 06-20-2020, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
Hey Ralph, thanks for "reminding me" of how much I love this classic film, though I did realize immediately that I had the 2018 release. Now you have "whetted my appetite" to view it again! I will pass on the Steelbook edition.

Gladiator and Braveheart are two of my favorites; in fact, I can safely say they're in my "Top Ten!"


greetings,

Hey Denny, yes, totally agree, epic entertainment. Happy Father's Day!


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post
greetings,

Hey Denny, yes, totally agree, epic entertainment. Happy Father's Day!


Regards,
Thanks Ralph! My wife and I have FIVE daughters and EIGHTEEN grandchildren, so I more than qualify as a Father!

Happy Father's Day to you too Ralph! Take it easy tomorrow, even if that means you skip doing what you're so good at...reviewing Blu-rays!

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post #18 of 25 Old 06-21-2020, 10:45 AM
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Totally off topic bought the movie Valkyrie with Tom Cruise from iTune store for $4.99 man oh man the audio is totally out this world it sounded so good especially when Hitler arrives in the airstrip accompanied by these security planes flying above the airstrip , I thought I had the disc on which I don't have. I am totally shocked how good it sounded from iTune .

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post #19 of 25 Old 06-25-2020, 05:53 PM
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For sure going to be picking this up! Have an old BD copy of it from when it was first released. Can't wait to give this one a spin in 4K!
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post #20 of 25 Old 06-28-2020, 12:45 PM
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Wow, 25 years huh???? I feel old. I remember enjoy this when it came out and when the DVD came out!
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post #21 of 25 Old 06-29-2020, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post
Wow, 25 years huh???? I feel old. I remember enjoy this when it came out and when the DVD came out!
20, you're not as old as you thought.

Its DVD served me well until a recently purchased BD.

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post #22 of 25 Old 07-08-2020, 05:23 AM
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Since the (1080p) Blu rays are downscaled from the new mastering, I always want to know how the Blu ray compares to the older Blu ray.. Basically comparing the true difference of the new mastering, and not Blu Ray vs UHD..

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post #23 of 25 Old 07-08-2020, 03:56 PM
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Visual Quality Improved

According to Ralph, it sounds like the visual quality of the master is up now up to par. That's really good news!

If I recall, Paramount first released this and Braveheart on Blu-Ray in September 2009 as part of their "Sapphire Series," and they were widely reviewed as having poor visual quality (not mastered well). They were oft cited as "DVD quality." I believe there was even an exchange program put into place after a remaster was completed in mid-2010. As the market was flooded with these just in time for the holidays, I've been hesitant to grab a copy (and I love Gladiator).

Thankfully, it looks like we now have a 4K UHD + Digital combo pack with both Braveheart and Gladiator! How about that? Even with Mel's issues in recent years, I will readily admit that I equally love Braveheart. This will allow me to purchase a Mel Gibson movie and bring it into my home right under my (less-forgiving) wife's nose. Lol. It wouldn't surprise me if Paramount did that calculus.

Based on Ralph's review, it sounds like the mastering is "correct" with the UHD, so I'm going to pull the trigger on this feeling that we're safe to do so. Finally, I can relive the glory of the arena on the big screen.

Thanks for the review, Ralph!
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post #24 of 25 Old 07-10-2020, 08:09 AM
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Much like Braveheart... I bought this one because I have a thing for beautiful steelbooks... also... because I've never seen it.


Gonna get around to it one day. That's 2 copies I own.
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post #25 of 25 Old 07-10-2020, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metaldave View Post
According to Ralph, it sounds like the visual quality of the master is up now up to par. That's really good news!

If I recall, Paramount first released this and Braveheart on Blu-Ray in September 2009 as part of their "Sapphire Series," and they were widely reviewed as having poor visual quality (not mastered well). They were oft cited as "DVD quality." I believe there was even an exchange program put into place after a remaster was completed in mid-2010. As the market was flooded with these just in time for the holidays, I've been hesitant to grab a copy (and I love Gladiator).

Thankfully, it looks like we now have a 4K UHD + Digital combo pack with both Braveheart and Gladiator! How about that? Even with Mel's issues in recent years, I will readily admit that I equally love Braveheart. This will allow me to purchase a Mel Gibson movie and bring it into my home right under my (less-forgiving) wife's nose. Lol. It wouldn't surprise me if Paramount did that calculus.

Based on Ralph's review, it sounds like the mastering is "correct" with the UHD, so I'm going to pull the trigger on this feeling that we're safe to do so. Finally, I can relive the glory of the arena on the big screen.

Thanks for the review, Ralph!
The 4K UHD looks ( and sounds ) absolutely stellar !
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