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Kingdom of Heaven (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Ridley Scott

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A Collage of Seemingly Connection Scenes That Do Not Work as a Movie

  • Nov 28, 2005
  • by
Rating:
-3
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 but of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, is but a ill-developed backdrop to this messy movie call Kingdom of Heaven.

The focus of the movie is the oft-fought over ancient theologically significant city of Jerusalem. This Middle Eastern city, seat of the modern Jewish state is in fact the chair of three of the worlds oldest religions: Judaism, Christianity (represented by the Greek Orthodox church), and Islam. Jerusalem of course is the fabled crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as the home for two holy temples; one of Judaic origins and the other Islamic, the latter of which stands today.

That of course brings us to the aforementioned Crusades, that series of running battles between the Christian west and the Islamic east with Jerusalem as the much maligned, much sought after prize. The first Crusade was undertaken in 1096 and that last ended in the late 13th century. Kingdom Of Heaven takes place at in the period of time between the second and third Crusade when the Christian armies of Europe still hold Jerusalem but are about to loose the city for good to the armies of Islam.

Story-Line (Kingdom of Heaven):

Directed by Ridley Scott, Kingdom Of Heaven opens as Balian the French blacksmith portrayed by Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings, Troy, Pirates of the Caribbean) morns the suicidal death of his wife, who killed herself after the death of their child. Because she committed suicide the local priest orders Balian’s wife’ corpse beheaded so that she cannot enter heaven, but instead must reside in Hell. And the priest make the mistake of telling Balian in an off-handed way and Balian kills him.

Earlier that day Balian's father, Godfrey of Ibelin portrayed by Liam Neeson (Excalibur, Rob Roy, Batman Begins) come to town to inform Balian that he is, well, his long lost father. Godfrey (a real historical character) is a Knight who has 100 vassals under his command is a veteran of the Crusades who has pledged his life and sword to the King of Jerusalem. Godfrey wants Balian to join him in Jerusalem, to fight at his side and become the rightful heir of his legacy. Balian (predictably) resists at first, but then after the blacksmith shop is burned down he seeks Godfrey out.

Soon after Balian joins his father, the French authorities come to arrest Balian for the priest's murder. His father and his men are subsequently attacked and several die defending the young upstart, and Godfrey is mortally wounded, by an arrow, and is sure to die, but before he does he make sure Balian is knighted. On the way to the Holy Land, the ship he is traveling on (predictably) gets lost at sea and h is the only one to survive, along with a horse (huh?). After the shipwreck, Balian makes his way into the desert and meets a couple of shady characters and manages to kill one of them (huh?). So he makes his way to Jerusalem, joins up with the Knights that fought at his fathers side and meets King Baldwin of Jerusalem portrayed by Edward Norton (American History X, Fight Club, The Italian Job), a man she is dying of leprosy. He also meets Tiberias, the Marshal of Jerusalem, portrayed by Jeremy Irons (Damage, Stealing Beauty, Last Call) the trusted and loyal right hand of the King who has grown weary of the Crusades.

However, some of the knights, the famed Knight Templars of France, want Jerusalem to remain forever in Christian hands. The Templars are led a red headed loon named Reynald (Brendan Gleeson) and his trusted sidekick, the obnoxious Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas). Guy is married to King Baldwin's sister, Princess Sybilla portrayed by Eva Green (The Dreamers), a marriage that was arranged when the Princess was just fifteen. But Sybilla despises Guy, in fact she would prefer to share her time—and her bed covers—with Balian a man she hardly knows.

Before King Baldwin dies, he and Tiberias try and convince Balian to lay waste to Guy and marry Sybilla in the interest of averting a war with Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) leader of the Muslims. When King Baldwin dies, Sybilla is crowned Queen and Guy King of Jerusalem. The result: King Guy leads an ill-informed campaign into the desert to bring the war to Saladin, but gets his Army annihilated in the process. Balian and Tiberias are left to defend the city.

Thoughts

There are so many holes in Kingdom Of Heaven that it is hard to know where to begin. Almost from the opening frame the film was flawed. Are we to believe that a blacksmith has what it takes to be a Knight after only one sword play lesson at the hands of his father? Please! And are we to believe that this simple man has what it takes to be a fighter, a leader of men in such a short time?

The whole movie seemed contrived, and it was certainly wholly predictable. And while some of the characters in the movie were straight out of history, most notably Godfrey, Balian (though history records the Knight as the brother of Godfrey), and Saladin, Kingdom Of Heaven strayed too far from the path of history to be relevant. It is always been my belief that history is interesting enough without a re-write from Hollywood. The movie jumps from scene to scene with little coherence.

But Kingdom Of Heaven wasn’t all bad; the cinematography was outstanding, and the costume design was stellar. I don’t know if the customs were true to the period, but they certainly look authentic. And most of the acting was laudable, but Orlando Bloom is not leading man material; he just doesn’t have the screen presence of say Laurence Fishburn or Brad Pitt. He is better slated as a sidekick, but he is just not believable a leader of men.

Conclusion

Once again a great and significant historical event—in this case the recapture of Jerusalem—has been distorted almost beyond recognition.


Recommended:
No

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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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 . March 01, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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 . 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 …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #189
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Wiki

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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Details

Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Action, Adventure
Screen Writer: William Monahan
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Runtime: 144 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
First to Review
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