Kingdom of Heaven Reviews
It's a given that this, and others like it, are historically inaccurate and fictionalized. That is to be expected. I may be a historian, and although the events and time depicted are not my speciality, I have taken a class on the Crusades, and can weigh in more easily about what is right and wrong with the depictions. Whether I have extensive knowledge of things in any historical film or not, I am generally very tolerant and understanding of things, and try not to do too much condemning.
I wished there was better character development and better plotting, both of which I hope the director's cut fixes. The performances were generally pretty good, and while I don't think Orlando Bloom can quite carry a film on his own yet (like he has to here), he's getting better .The supporting cast is terrific, with major props going to Irons, Green (despite murkiness with her character), the unrecognizable Norton, and the guy who played Saladin.
The battle scenes are terrific, and they are choreograped and executed quite well. It's also nice to note that the use of extras and real animals and props took place over CGI. Even though they are flawed, the non battle scens are good too; Maybe I happened to like them even more since I am a scholar, and can appreciate the dialogue heavy socio/political/religious content. Some of the dialogue is kinda bad, but the other great stuff makes up for it.
So yeah, this version is heavily flawed, but I still enjoyed it. When it comes to epic film making, Ridley Scott is a modern master.
But something with Orlando Bloom, Edward Norton, Liam Neeson, and Ridley Scott directing, I'll sit through it. However I always manage to find redeemable qualities in every film and while story was rough, there were some fantastically beautiful shots. Excellent violence and great acting.
At times, I had several Lord of the Rings flashbacks. The setting fire to the towers was interesting. I think Orly learned it from being Legolas. Or that is how I entertain myself when I see actors in similar roles. I did like some of the religious liberty and lessons in it, but doubt that is even close to how it was in history.
As for the actual character, his meteoric rise from village blacksmith to the heights of power is tough to swallow. Men of great power give Balian so much respect, trust, and incredibly important positions, based on...what? Who his father was? He just has no real character development to convince the audience that he's worthy of leading armies, or that his sudden (and frankly, unbelievable) relationship with Princess Sibylla is based on anything besides the writer's need to have it in the story. That kind of weak and shallow writing (which is sadly not only limited to the character of Balian, all of the characters are little more than caricatures) really irks me, and it definitely hurt the movie. Bland is not an admirable description of this kind of character.
On the positive side, the scale of the movie is beyond impressive. The battles are well- choreographed and appropriately epic, the desert and city setting are beautiful and authentic, and the excellent cinematography captures it all beautifully. I genuinely wanted to learn more about this time in history, after I watched it.
This could have been a great movie, with a better lead actor and better writing. As it stands, Ridley Scott failed to return to the success that Gladiator found. Visually, Kingdom of Heaven is a treat. The rest is adequate, at best.
Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people.
Sir Ridley Scott has made a movie that does not fit easily in today's Hollywood where the dollar is king. This is a complicated masterpiece full of Scott's signature imagery of magnificent landscapes and breathtaking battle scenes. Orlando Bloom does wonders with a role that is more complex than Russell Crowe's in Galdiator and Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and Ghassan Massoud bring immense power to their parts. Alexander Siddig once again proves that he is quietly emerging into one of the most gifted actors of recent years, with a role that displays both elegance and intellect. It is of note that considering his lower profile he grabs your attention throughout the action. Ed Norton does likewise in a role that commands your respect, in a part that must have been physically and mentally demanding. In an age where tolerance is considered a redundant concept, this is a courageous attempt to at least grab your attention and make you think beyond your comfort zone. I wish the longer version had been released on screen as the major problem stems from the obvious editing down from the original vision. However despite this minor fault, this film is a success. A movie that asks you to engage your brain is never a failure.
Ridley Scott's attempt to gain the same success of "Gladiator" fails at some points, but in the end it's still mildly entertaining and a decent addition to the epic film genre.
To me, "Kingdom of Heaven" is too religious and political. It drags on a bit but on the positive side it has some very good scenes, like the final battle between the christian and muslim troops.
Some beautiful images are also added, at times it almost feels like the filmmakers had copied the visual image of "Gladiator". Even the music of the film seems similar to Ridley Scott's masterpiece.
In my opinion, the biggest flaw of the film is Orlando Bloom. He's not at all of the same caliber as Russell Crowe. The film features a lot of talent; Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Jeremy Irons, just to name a few. The film also has the Finnish Jouko Ahola, "The world's strongest man" of 97 and 99, but that's about that...
"Kingdon of Heaven" resembles "Gladiator" but lacks the spirit that the latter movie had. But the film is not at all a disaster, some might love it or hate it, some might just find it entertaining enough to enjoy it.
Balian: What is Jerusalem worth?
Saladin: Nothing. [walks away] Everything!
Well made epic about the crusades that was unfortunately overlooked during its initial release.
The story, which actually stays very true to the historical events that occurred, involve a young man, Balian played by Bloom, who works as a blacksmith in France. His wife has recently committed suicide and he himself is questioning life.
Things change when a knight, Godfrey, played by Liam Neeson, comes to town with other crusaders, alerting Balian that he is in fact his father and wishes him to fight with him in the crusades.
After some more Obi Wan moments, Balian arrives in Jerusalem by himself, seeking to do what he can as a knight himself now, and hopefully gain forgiveness from God for his wife and his own sins.
During this time we also meet actually historical characters such as Guy de Lusignan, Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), Sibylla (Eva Green), Reynald (Brendan Gleeson), and the leper king Baldwin played by an uncredited but very effective Edward Norton.
We are also shown the other side of the Crusades, the Muslim perspective, featuring their leader Saladin, and see his thoughts on the matter.
This movie is filled with good supporting characters, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, and David Thewlis are all kinds of cool, and even Orlando Bloom isn't too bad.
This is a Ridley Scott film, and he makes another ancient epic that is very well made with plenty of good crusader action. His visual style along with an amazing score by Harry Gregson Willaims work wonders at helping a long epic such as this remain entertaining.
Helping the story is how we are not given good and bad guys. The opposing forces both serve noble causes and are not shown to be particularly evil, but smart men with goals in mind for their people.
The director's cut, adding another 50 minutes to this movie is even better and here are some reasons why:
I can understand why the studios made cuts, all audiences would probably not appreciate the movie taking it's time to flesh out it's characters, but it does make a difference.
The beginning for example does a much better job to set up Bloom's character, and you see him in a better light throughout the film, he does not simply join up with Neeson, followed by a jump to an action scene, his character is built up as something more than action guy.
There is more of Neeson's character which is cool, as well as some more battle footage. There is also a few good subplots, one involving a new character not previously seen in the theatrical cut, but works both in the film and historically.
This is certainly the only version of the film that should be watched, and if it were to have initially come out, I can only imagine it would have gotten higher regard around awards season. This is a very good film, met with good character actors and solid direction from Scott.
Godfrey of Ibelin: Get up, lets see how well you fight.
Hospitaler: His hand is injured my lord.
Godfrey of Ibelin: I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle.
The conclusion, the concept of the movie, the acting, casting and directing of the movie was all just so awesome!
David Thewlis is starting to get my attention more and more but I totally missed Edward Norton on here. Ill have to watch this again sometime!
I have a lot of questions about it tho, muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, so did they fight only for the strategic location of Jerusalem? Was it because it was the highest point in that location to worship??? How is Jerusalem "everything" for them???
Hmm, well a lot of you have recommended watching the directors cut, so I think Ill go ahead and look for it.