It is the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages - the world shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East. A blacksmith named Balian has lost his family and nearly his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin, a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian's father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment--between the Second and Third Crusades--a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias, and the military ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
I'd heard a lot about KINGDOM OF HEAVEN when it was released in 2005 . Most of the reviews were rather uncomplimentary so I made a point of missing it until it was broadcast on Channel 4 last night and as I write this review I remember a lot of beautiful things about this movie . Unfortunately I can remember far more things that annoyed me
Ridley Scott has been swotting up on the films and technique of David Lean and in many ways Scott is a natural successor to that legendary film director . The battle scenes are even better than the ones seen in Jackson's THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING and at no time did I believe I was watching an unconvincing CGI battle fest , just an army of thousands of extras walloping each other over the head like you'd see in the greatest Hollywood epics of yesteryear . Scott has also assembled a truly great cast that includes household names like Neeson and Irons alongside very effective character actors like Norton , Glen , Thewlis , Sheen and Gleeson . It must have been something of a gamble for Scott to cast pretty boy Bloom in the lead role since he's the sort of " movie star " who's only famous because of his good looks rather than any outstanding thespian ability but Orlando Bloom probably gives his greatest performance in this film . The only thing that the director Can be criticised for is an over reliance of slow motion during the battle scenes but apart from that everything else on screen is Oscar worthy , though since Scott was under rewarded at award ceremonies you get the feeling that he was trying a little too hard to win an Oscar
There's an old saying that " if a film is good then it's down to the director and if it's bad it's down to the screenwriter " and this is certainly true of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN . Throughout the running time I was left scratching my head wondering about characters motives and why certain characters did certain things and let's not ignore the clichés of " You are a brave warrior so I will let you live " type moments . Some people claim that the studio should be held responsible rather than screenwriter William Monahan since they made several cuts to the final print and there's a disjointed feel to the narrative . Perhaps this is true but I wonder how many people watching this on DVD or on television like me had to keep logging in to the wikipedia in order to understand what was happening on screen . It should also be pointed out that there's a rather politically correct feel to the story with neither Christians or Muslims being portrayed as out and out villains with only the Knight templars being portrayed as evil . One wonders if the knight templars were still in existence today if they'd be shown in this way . In many ways it's like watching a second world war film where Germans are shown as being as much as victims of Nazism as those in the occupied territories . Honestly I was expecting the templars to goose step in to battle while proclaiming " I vos only obeying orders " . It says something about the quality of director and cast when they can rise above such one dimensional scripting
In short this is a film that is sometimes beautiful and stunning but often irritating , confused and plodding . It is well directed and acted but you often get the impression that it tries too hard and this works against it . Historians probably won't like it and you get the feeling no one will love KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and everyone will give slightly different reasons as to why they didn't love it . In short it's a very flawed masterpiece
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