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Kingdom of Heaven (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott

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A Good Film, But a Kingdom of Conscience is a 20th Century Idea.

  • Mar 1, 2007
I had missed seeing KINGDOM OF HEAVEN when it was originally in theatres. Since its release on DVD I have heard many positive things about the movie and finally was able to view the movie for myself.

The movie takes place during the Middle Ages and revolves around a blacksmith named Balian (Orlando Bloom). Balian's wife committed suicide after the death of their child and he finds himself alone and living in a village where very few of the other villagers like him. Lord Godfrey (Liam Neeson) returns home to find Balian, his long lost son and ask him to return with him to the Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven. At first Balian refuses, but after murdering a priest Balian joins his father in hopes that in fighting in Jerusalem he can be given absolution for both his and his wife's sins. Jerusalem is somewhat unstable. The King of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) is a leper with no heir to the throne. Baldwin is a good man and has been able to maintain a peaceful existence with the surrounding Muslim nations. Baldwin lived longer than anyone expected him to, but each day that passes finds him weaker. His sister, Sibylla (Eva Green) will inherit the throne after his death and there are several factions fighting amongst themselves for control of the city after Baldwin dies. Balian enters the scene and wins the trust of some of the nobles, such as Tiberius (Jeremy Irons) and the King himself. Balian also wins the affections of Sibylla which causes her supposed soon to betrothed Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) to hate Balian more. Knights Templar under the direction of Guy force a war with the Muslim warrior Saladin (Ghasssan Massoud) after which Balian finds himself forced to be true knight for the people.

I know that this version of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN wasn't the version director Ridley Scott had attended. His version of the film is about an hour longer, but I haven't seen that one yet. This version of the film is the version that was seen in theatres and as it stands by itself, it isn't too bad of a movie. The acting is strong through most of the cast. Orlando Bloom has taken a lot of slack for giving a poor performance, but in reality he doesn't do to bad of a job. It is true that Bloom is really too much of a pretty boy to be playing Balian (knights weren't always the best looking people around), but the weakness of his character comes not from his performance but from the writing of his character. The opening scene is supposed to form empathy with the audience, but it doesn't do that. Therefore, a connection with Bloom's Balian is never really made.

The movie has some great action sequences and the cinematography is spectacular. Great lengths were taken in making detailed weapons and costumes and the siege of Jerusalem is one of the most accurate scenes of siege warfare about an actual real life battle that I have ever seen on screen. Ridley Scott did a great job of bringing this film together.

However, it doesn't work as well as it could have. Much of this is because Scott's version of the film was cut dramatically. There are points in the movie where you can tell a scene is missing. I believe that the other reason the film isn't as powerful as it could be is because of the writing. Characters that should be written strong, such as Balian, aren't. Other minor characters come off being more important than they should be while characters that should have a crucial role to play in the film, such as Saladin's sister, aren't on screen more than a few seconds. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN was William Monahan's first major accredited script so these flaws might just be the learning curve of a major screenwriting.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is a pretty good historical picture. It's a decent film to introducing people to the Crusades, but it's also just a fun film to watch on a Saturday night.

This DVD version of the script includes a text commentary, some behind the scenes featurettes, a History Channel special entitled "History Vs. Hollywood--Kingdom of Heaven", and a special that aired on A&E called "Movie Real: Kingdom of Heaven". The History Channel companion piece is the better of the two major special features. It starts off with Ridley Scott and the major actors talking about the film and then segue ways into examining the Crusades, Crusaders, Medieval castles, and Medieval weapons. The A&E special is atrocious, though, and is basically a piece of propaganda. The Movie Real feature is anything but real and includes conversations with the actors of the film as if they are real historians. Half of the historians in the piece have a severely biased and flawed view of the Crusades and the time in history that THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN takes place and instead of introducing information that the film in someway ignores (such as the fact that Balian had an older brother named Baldwin), these historians perpetuates many of the myths of the film. For example, none of the historians ever mention that before any of the Crusades started that Christians had been persecuted by Muslims and were no longer allowed to visit the Holy Places in Jerusalem as they had been doing for centuries. There are many more documentaries about the crusades and I would advise watching one of them and just ignore the `A&E Movie Real" altogether.

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More Kingdom of Heaven (2005) reviews
review by . April 29, 2009
This movie was a lot better than Alexander and just about as good as Gladiator (Rome seems to be more sexy than tales of the middle-east). During the time of the crusades where Christian hordes from France decided to kill all non-Christians in the middle-east because "they were told by g-d," Orlando Bloom flees after he has murdered a priest. He ends up in the desert and running out of water and happens on an oasis and a horse. Two Arabs challenge him for the horse which they state is theirs. Bloom …
review by . November 17, 2008
This is a tale of a sword-fighting blacksmith who slept with another man's wife. No, it's not Pirates of Troy, but it is Orlando Bloom, proving that even a pretty boy can make a better action movie than heavyweights like Brad (Troy) and Colin (Alexander).     The movie spotlights some of the battles of the Crusades, the usual religion vs. politics, with both sides laying claim to Jerusalem. King Baldwin and the Christians are in occupation of the mutually holy city, while Saladin …
review by . June 23, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Scenery and cinematography      Cons: Incredibly long speeches that amount to nothing but a yawn or three      The Bottom Line: Battles are good, the rest, which makes up 75% of the movie is often VERY borning.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Old Jerusalem had a siege, ee-ei-ee-ei-oh; with a fight fight here and a speech speech there, her a speech here …
review by . December 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was a lot better than Alexander and just about as good as Gladiator (Rome seems to be more sexy than tales of the middle-east). During the time of the crusades where Christian hordes from France decided to kill all non-Christians in the middle-east because "they were told by g-d," Orlando Bloom flees after he has murdered a priest. He ends up in the desert and running out of water and happens on an oasis and a horse. Two Arabs challenge him for the horse which they state is theirs. Bloom …
review by . November 10, 2006
Is it a coincidence that a movie based on Christian - Muslim relations was to come out after the 9-11 terrorist attacks? Maybe, maybe not. The movie itself is quite good in many aspects, but could have been a lot better.    First, the acting. Coming out in the summer of 2005, this movie probably had more big name stars in it that most of the summer crop. Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Edward Norton, and Orlando Bloom lead of an international cast highlighted by many …
review by . July 30, 2006
The film isn't incredibly memorable; it won't go into the annals of filmdom like `Lawrence of Arabia,' `Lord of the Rings' or `Gladiator.' To me this film can be viewed on a rainy day. `Kingdom of Heaven' has the action, excitement, and interest. The story, the cinematography, and the acting are fine as well but I think the film misses its attempt to have an emotional core. It's primary focus is on the politics of the situation between the Christians and Muslims and the kings of both sides. But …
review by . May 31, 2006
While I enjoyed the original theater release of "Kingdom of Heaven", I was unsatisfied that the characters were only marginally developed.    After seeing Ridley Scott's Director's Cut of the movie, I feel like the studio was absolutely crazy to "gut" the theatrical release in the wholesale fashion they did. At last, the great casting was allowed to flesh out their roles and create characters -- good and bad -- that compel you to care about them.    In this …
review by . May 30, 2006
Finally the 194 minute version is out!   I don't know about you but when I left the theatre after having seen the earlier one, I felt so disappointed. Not because of Ridley's (marvellous) work but because it was so obvious people cut about a third of the film.   I don't want to go into details about the acting - everyone is doing a terrific job here (although Eva Green is slightly disappointing - I think her very pretty, but for the acting part, she just doesn't touch me as deeply …
review by . November 28, 2005
Pros: Cinematography     Cons: Almost everything else.     The Bottom Line: Once again a great and significant historical event—in this case the recapture of Jerusalem—has been distorted almost beyond recognition.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. The Crusades, that oft-talked about but little understood and never historically heeded chapter in the development of not only Western Civilization …
review by . October 15, 2005
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is not just another Hollywood epic with a cast of thousands laying pillage to the earth and fellow man. Yes, it is a mammoth production with enough spectacular sets, battle scenes, violence and atmosphere to satisfy even the most ravenous Big Picture appetite. But is also has a fine script (written by William Monahan) that elects to focus on a rather intimate series of stories that have sensitivity and tenderness and, perhaps more importantly, offers some historical background …
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It's hard to believe Ridley Scott's handsome epic won't become the cinematic touchstone of the Crusades for years to come.Kingdom of Heavenis greater than the sum of its parts, delivering a vital, mostly engrossing tale following Balian (Orlando Bloom), a lonely French blacksmith who discovers he's a noble heir and takes his father's (Liam Neeson) place in the center of the universe circa 1184: Jerusalem. Here, grand battles and backdoor politics are key as Scott and first-time screenwriter William Monahan fashion an excellent storyline to tackle the centuries-long conflict. Two forward-thinking kings, Baldwin (Edward Norton in an uncredited yet substantial role) and Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), hold an uneasy truce between Christians (who hold the city) and Muslims while factions champ at the bit for blood. There are good and evildoers on both sides, with the Knights Templar taking the brunt of the blame; Balian plans to find his soul while protecting Baldwin and the people. The look of the film, as nearly everything is from Scott, is impressive: his CGI-infused battle scenes rival theLOTRseries and, with cinematographer John Mathieson, create postcard beauty with snowy French forests and the vast desert (filmed in Morocco and Spain). An excellent supporting cast, including Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and David Thewlis, also help make the head and heart of the film work. Many critics pointed out that Bloom doesn't have the gravitas of Russell Crowe ...
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Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Action, Adventure
Screen Writer: William Monahan
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Runtime: 144 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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