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  #451  
Old May 21st, 2005, 02:00 AM
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Another nice review from Leonard Maltin

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KINGDOM OF HEAVEN — The challenge of any period piece that deals in ancient history is to make its story both clear and relevant to a modern audience. Kingdom of Heaven succeeds on both counts. Some may find it a simplification of a complex subject, but by narrowing its focus to a specific time during the Crusades of the 12 th century and allowing a handful of well-drawn characters to shoulder the dramatic burden, it captures the time, place, and conflicts quite well. That screenwriter William Monahan is new to moviemaking may be in his (and our) favor. (A former editor of Spy magazine, he won a prize for his short fiction in the late 1990s and went on to publish a novel, Light House.)

There is no better film technician than Ridley Scott, but I think he’s only as good as his scripts. In this case, with a strong foundation, he has realized every bit of the story’s great potential for human drama as well as movie spectacle.

The youngest of the film’s key collaborators is 28-year-old Orlando Bloom, whose leap to overnight fame in The Lord of the Rings trilogy unwittingly set him on a course of costume drama that continued, to public acclaim, in Pirates of the Caribbean. Bloom embodies a nobility that belies his age, and carries the weight of his role here—as an ordinary man who becomes a leader—with aplomb and conviction.

Kingdom of Heaven may not have the stuff of greatness, but it’s bold and intelligent, two words one doesn’t get to use very often for blockbuster-style entertainment.
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  #452  
Old May 21st, 2005, 02:03 AM
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I think no person should critique someone based on thier looks. It should be on that person's talent...that is the reason why there aren't alot of good actors out there now along with singers.

In this case Orlando really does have talent, but people can't see that because of how he looks. It's just another Johnny Depp life all over again.
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  #453  
Old May 21st, 2005, 05:12 PM
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Praise be upon him
By Peter Aspden
Published: May 20 2005 10:18 | Last updated: May 20 2005 10:18

Kingdom and HeavenWhat a remarkable effect Ridley Scott’s new film Kingdom of Heaven is having on the discourse of popular culture. Arcane movie website forums, normally devoted to whether a starlet has shaved under her arms that month, are plunging into discussions of medieval history. The movements of 12th century armies are being traced by glossy magazines; the symptoms of advanced leprosy freely discussed in an age that regards the common cold as an insufferable assault.

Most importantly of all, of course, there is being expressed the startling possibility that some historical figures in Christian, western society might have behaved with a murderous impunity towards the followers of a different faith; and that those infidel followers in turn reacted with a gracious forbearance when they had the opportunity to fight back.

To summarise: the unequivocal hero of Kingdom of Heaven is the Kurdish sultan of Egypt and Syria, Saladin, played with finely honed authority by the Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, while its villains are the rabid Knights Templar of the early crusades. Even the Christian knight who tries to transcend the savagery, Balian of Ibelin, is depicted by Orlando Bloom, an actor of such effete looks and diffident manner that the director is surely trying to weave yet another sly subtext into his subversive morality tale.

Scott’s simplified account of self-righteous Christian blood-lust is unjustly exaggerated, say critics. But the spirit of the film is soundly sourced, even if it plays fast and loose with some of the facts. The crusades were seen as just wars against infamous unbelievers for centuries. In the court of Louis XIV, the Jesuit Louis Maimbourg described with gusto how the Christians, once in possession of Jerusalem, “used to their full extent the rights of victory... Everywhere one could see nothing but heads flying, legs hacked off, arms cut down, bodies in slices... they killed the very children in their mothers’ arms to exterminate, if possible, that accursed race.”

It wasn’t until the Enlightenment that a degree of revisionism over the crusades began to be detected in a new generation of philosophers, who were more interested in truth than in religious propaganda. “The more incomprehensible it seemed to those cool, rational spirits, the more they felt the necessity of comprehending it,” wrote the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper. For Gibbon, the four holy wars that cost so many lives were “the World’s Debate”, which is a more wholesome way of looking at it than Samuel Huntington’s infamous Clash of Civilizations.

The image of the noble Muslim leader teaching the west a thing or two about tolerance was also born in this period: witness the extraordinary display of clemency by Pasha Selim in Mozart’s Seraglio, when he discovers that he is to lose the woman he loves to the son of the man who has dishonoured him. Voltaire shared Scott’s admiration for Saladin, and also paid tribute to the Emperor Frederick II, who negotiated with - instead of fighting - the sultan, and was the victim of a papal crusade as a result.

So it is only right that we, like the intellectuals of the 18th century, should debate the legacy of the crusades. Only, we do it through our own cultural channels, none more powerful than Hollywood. Great works of popular culture do not have to be brilliantly written, bursting with originality, or argued with any great subtlety. It is enough that they hit the right nerve, in the right place, at the right time; and then, that they are debated by millions.

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street was no great critique of capitalism, yet its caricature soundbites - “Greed is good”, “Lunch is for wimps” - were brilliantly evocative of their era. It is impossible to remember the Reagan years without bringing to mind Michael Douglas in his broad red braces. That is what you call real iconic power.

Kingdom of Heaven, too, is touching nerves. It is Osama bin Laden’s version of history, thundered a British academic, which will only fuel Islamic fundamentalism. But Scott is following a fine tradition, one established by the bold free thinkers of 200-odd years ago, who reached some unpalatable conclusions when they took their cool, rational look at the results of invoking religion in warfare. The crusades’ only gift to Europe, said the inestimable Voltaire, was leprosy.

I am liberal enough to believe that benign depictions of tolerance in art will lead us all to think in a more gracious and tolerant way about alleged enemies. I am also enough of an agnostic to find alarming a US president who lets slip the word “crusade” when addressing a 21st century audience; a British prime minister who prays to God and keeps telling us he took a difficult decision because it was the “right” thing to do; and a new Pope who really seems to believe he is infallible, and that the Enlightenment was some kind of ghastly wrong turn in human history.

And the crusaders? Their most notable “success” was when they turned on their fellow Christians, the Greeks of Constantinople. Otherwise, nothing; or, to quote Gibbon, “a mournful and solitary silence... along the coast which had so long resounded with the World’s Debate.”
Source: Financial Times.com
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Kingdom of Heaven (15)
By Neil Phillips
Orlando Bloom stars as Balian in Ridley Scott's epic film of war and battles during the 12th century
# Orlando Bloom stars as Balian in Ridley Scott's epic film of war and battles during the 12th century

Since Gladiator, a barrage of bloodstained historical epics have filled the cinema screens. But you can have too much of a good thing as recent, lacklustre offerings like King Arthur and Alexander have proved. Yet with Gladiator director Ridley Scott helming this Crusades-era epic, the omens look good for one more victory march.

And rightly so, because in its best moments Kingdom of Heaven is stunning. Unfortunately it also has some glaring flaws that keep it from becoming a true classic.

One drawback is simply that this sort of material is so familiar now. The movie probably contains the best battle scenes on film, but we're now so used to seeing vast armies and desperate sieges that the amazement factor isn't there anymore.

The story follows grieving widower Balian (Orlando Bloom) on his journey from simple blacksmith to honourable knight. Discovering he's the illegitimate son of nobleman Godfrey (an excellent Liam Neeson), Balian leaves France to join his father on a quest to Jerusalem.

There he hopes to rediscover God, and maintain the delicate peace between the different faiths laying claim to the holy city. But instead he's soon embroiled in political manipulations that threaten to plummet the land into a catastrophic war.

Scott is always visually impressive but he outdoes himself here. His recreation of the 12th Century is fabulous, and totally convincing. The wintry French countryside looks cold, grimy and harsh, yet full of starkly beautiful scenery.

His vision of Jerusalem, meanwhile, is staggering, beautifully evoking the colours, textures and atmosphere of the city. It's impossible to spot where sets end and computer wizardry begins; you'll swear you can smell the spices and feel the scorching sun.

And then there are those amazing battle scenes. Such large-scale warfare has rarely seemed so fierce, bloody and believable.

The film's pace is a little off, however, and clearly some scenes have been left on the cutting room floor. Balian, for instance, becomes a master swordsman virtually overnight, while several characters vanish without the send-off they deserve.

There's sure to be a director's cut DVD looming on the horizon. But though some sequences seem rushed, others, like the romantic subplot, meander tediously along without ever becoming interesting.

Bloom doesn't have the searing charisma of, say, Russell Crowe's Maximus (those all-important inspirational speeches aren't terribly inspiring), but he's surprisingly good, graduating successfully from his more lightweight roles.

It's a shame, then, that Balian is the least interesting character in the film. More intriguing by far are the excellent support, including Jeremy Irons' battle-scarred Tiberias, David Thewlis' noble Hospitaller, and charismatic Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud).

The film treads carefully with its portrayal of the conflict between faiths, but this makes it more interesting, rather than a politically correct compromise. Both Saladin and Balian are conscientious leaders fighting to defend their people, meaning that there is no clear-cut victory to root for.

The villains of the film are those who spark the conflict with acts of violence, not those who actually wage it.

Many more of these war-torn epics, and battle fatigue is bound to set in. But for one last time at least, Kingdom of Heaven reaps its share of glory.
Source: This is Local London
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  #454  
Old May 23rd, 2005, 06:38 AM
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REVIEWS of fans from NETFLIX

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RT from Los Angeles, CA
(See my other reviews ...) 59 out of 71 people found this review helpful.
Hubby and I saw this the other day at a preview. Not sure if this is the final version, as they have another month to go to release. We both agreed this was a great movie and the audience clapped at the end, so we weren't the only ones who liked it. Orlando and Neeson performed beautifully. I got used to the sagely Neeson in Star Wars and was quite impressed with his performance as a dying lord. Orlando, while not as intense as Harrison or Russel, developed his character his way - much less yelling and screaming about but very commanding. And looking gorgeous doing it. The movie is much fairly bloody, showing the 'dirt" of war and the siege of the city was spellbinding and gorgeous. Much better siege development than LOTR even. Hubby thought it was better than Gladiator. I thought it was pretty close but also different. Gladiator was about two men. Kingdom is about 2 kingdoms. Great epic.

JG from Whitehall, MI
(See my other reviews ...) 9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.
Despite all the discouraging reviews, my husband and I saw this movie opening day. From the first moment, we were swept up in the beautiful cinematography, music, and acting. I had no complaints about anything. The greatest thing about this movie is that it brought a human face to the Crusades. It cannot be compared to Troy, Lord of the Rings, or Gladiator. Kingdom of Heaven is in another genre completely. Do not watch this movie if you want the blood and gore nonstop. The plot to it is so much deeper than any other action movie. Two thumbs up from us!

Edgar Brown 24 out of 45 people found this review helpful.
Swashbuckling at its finest. Orlando Bloom was off the chain in the wonderful remake of the tried and true Crusader vs. Muslim flicks. It was like Braveheart meets Amadeus meets Salerius. The dialog was heart palpatating and you sat on the edge of your seat or in my case my neighbors lap (that's another story) until the curtain rolled and the final credit was cast. I expected to get something less than stellar considering the Director's reputation for over-the-top action flicks but I got a dosey-do of my own medicine. Costumes looked authentic and the scene with that women's bear tushy made me want to take a five minute break in the janitor's closet. Like I said before, don't expect a lot of Tender Mercies type sentiment but do expect a rowsing good time. Oh and yes, the music was brilliant as well. This one will go down in the pantheon of great American Cinema. I can't wait until it comes out on DVD.

EL from San Marcos, TX
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With it's better filmed action sequences, top notch acting and a more involving storyline, Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven" is the movie "Gladiator" should have been. And while Russell Crowe's film so obviously took from better epics such as "Ben-Hur" and "Braveheart", "Kingdom" has hints of "Excalibur" such as the crusades, knights and a reluctant leader taking his men ito battle. As Godfrey (Liam Neeson, also from "Excalibur) leads his group of knights back from the crusades, he searches for his estranged son, Balian (Orlando Bloom), and finds him working as a blacksmith and grieving from a recent loss. Balian, looking for God and forgiveness for his sins, follows his father to Jerusalem where he befriends a Muslim king and a noble but dying Christian king who both want to avoid a Holy War, but their top war commanders think differently. this material, which dates back almost 1,000 years, deals with the war between the Muslims and the "infidels" and Scott is sure not to point fingers at who started the war, but lets them point fingers at each other. The conflict between the two religions is thick in symbolism too (the Muslim king picking from the floor the fallen crucifix silhouetted in red is an obvious sign of the blood spilled for God). I would normally rate a movie like this four stars (the ending is a little too "neat and clean"). But with performances that better not be forgotten during Oscar season from Neeson, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Orlando Bloom (he can act!), and especially David Thewlis (as Godfrey's friend), and with his best directing since 1991's "Thelma and Louise", Scott deserves the extra star.

Julie in FL
I only saw this movie for Orlando Bloom. The whole movie to be seemed to be a version of the Helms Deep battle scene in Lord of the Rings with twice the gore. There were times when the fighting was so out of control and prolonged that I just closed my eyes until it was over. It was worth the money I paid to get in to see Orlando Bloom looking so incredibly hot, and I do think they pulled the story line together in the end, so I wasn't disappointed with that, but they way they made the whole movie just seemed pointless, they're all fighting the whole time for a reason that could have just been avoided in the beginning. Also, the king in that silver mask REALLY freaked me out. I didn't like that. I did get a slight thrill when they played Vide Cor Meum in one scene because that song was in Hannibal and I love Hannibal. I would recommend seeing it if you can handle the gore, if not, steer clear--there's alot of decapitation and blood squirting everywhere.

backrowecritic
(See my other reviews ...)
Ridley Scott brings all the parts of great movie together. With sweeping views, intense battles, thought-provoking dialogue, and haunting score, Kingdom of Heaven does not disappoint. Balian (Bloom) has lost everything. His wife, his son, his religion. Alone and lost, Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as his father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. Through the efforts of a Christian king, Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) there is a fragile peace in Jerusalem. Baldwin's days are numbered. Strains of fanaticism, ignorance, greed, and jealousy among the Crusaders threaten to shatter that truce. King Baldwin's vision of peace--a kingdom of heaven--is shared by a handful of knights, including Godfrey, who swear to uphold it with their lives and honor. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son, he also passes on that sacred oath: to protect the helpless, safeguard the peace, and work toward harmony between religions and cultures, so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. Balian takes the sword and steps into history. Both religions seem to be portrayed fairly. For the good and the bad. You see the fanaticism not only in the Muslims, but in Christianity as the priest shouts "To kill an infidel is not murder, but the will of God" as the Crusaders leave the Holy City. You see the struggle of a good-hearted man provoked into violence in both Saladin and Balian. You see parallels being drawn all the time in the film that no side is without blame, without honor. Throughout the film the question is repeatedly raised, what is religion? Is it just words or actions that we live by? This film asks you not to choose a side, but to understand each side.

KK from PA 5
(See my other reviews ...) 6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.
Kingdom of Heaven is a captivating tale that is beautifully shot, action-packed, and philosophically and morally engaging. Orlando Bloom gives a surprisingly mature performance as the film's central character. The casting for this movie was well-done. This movie provides some context for understanding the contemporary clash of civilizations between American culture and the muslim world. A warning for the squimish: This movie contains some extremely graphic scenes (they don't dominate the movie but they are present throughout it).



KL from TX 11

(See my other reviews ...) 6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.
I just saw this movie and enjoyed it much more than the critics had led me to expect. The action is beautiful and is propelled by a strong spiritual message to do with religious intolerance. Where does God really lie, in one's heart or in the form a religion takes, in one's actions or the trappings of piety? The theme is a modern one but is almost sledgehammered home by subtle dialoque. The movie does not take sides in this battle for Jerusalem but allows men of honor to reside on both sides. One is likely to leave disgusted by the religious intolerance that has returned to the world after a brief sabbatical. I loved this film and recommend it to everyone.

DA from CA 7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.
Here's another film which is loosely based on historical reality. This reality is subsequently twisted and manipulated to create a political and social commentary. I am not a fan of this type of movie making because I too feel as though I'm being manipulated. Orlando Bloom cannot carry this type of film and was miscast. He is outshined by all of his co-stars with the exception of the horrid Eva Green. Bloom is too genteel, delicate and unthreatening to be a believable warrior. On the upside there were some very good battle scenes and cinematographic moments.

DB from Connersville, IN
(See my other reviews ...) 5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.
WOW!! It's about time someone made a movie about what true honor really looks like. This was the perfect meshing of breathtaking scenery and inspirational dialogue. This movie should be the training film in every police department and military base. The Knight's Oath ("Show no fear before your enemy. Speak the truth, even if it leads to your death. Protect the helpless...") is something we should all aspire to. This movie stirred my soul like few before. Orlando personifies dignity throughout the entire story. Even his enemies (mostly) can't help but respect him because of his character. This was money well spent!
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 06:49 AM
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from VARSITY ....

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It would be easier if I was a rabid fangirl. Easier to be excited about Orlando Bloom starring in Kingdom of Heaven, easier to look forward to perving over his pretty body. And while, granted, Orli (as the fangirls call him) is looking a damn sight better with biceps and beardly-stubble, the only way you could praise his acting in his latest movie is to be a fangirl. Because Orlando doesn’t act. He plays Orlando.

For that matter, for most of this movie he doesn’t even do that, instead letting the tide of events wash over and swirl around him. Looking as dazed as an unexpected ship-wreck survivor, even before he survives a ship-wreck, he’s really there to get the fangirls in the door. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because with the exception of leading lady Eva Green, everyone else is absolutely worth watching.

Kingdom of Heaven isn’t so much about heaven as the concept of it (if you care to read between the swords and the politicking). Set in the late 12th Century, it follows Balian (Bloom) the blacksmith, as he mourns the loss of his wife and child, is informed he is the bastard son of Baron Godfrey (Liam Neeson), and goes with his father on the Crusades. And that’s just the first half-hour.

It is the last few years of peace in Jerusalem, with an uneasy peace between the Christians holding the city and the ‘infidels’ under Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). Balian, a Baron himself once his father has died, seeks understanding of what to do with his life, and how save his wife from hell. This generally means he looks mournful while events occur around him, and that doesn’t change much no matter where he is.

Despite mourning for his wife, there is the obligatory love interest, Sibylla (Eva Green) – but while she features large on the billboards and posters, this is not a romance flick. Her feisty actions have very little impact on Balian, although Balian's impact her. Her father, the King of Jerusalem, is a leper (with Edward Norton hidden behind the silver mask). When he finally dies and she takes the throne, her decision to take unwanted husband Guy de Lusignan (Marton Czokas in an unrecognisably hirsute role) with her into power is what ultimately sets off a war.

Director Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Thelma and Louise) makes the most of atmosphere. Beginning in France, there is a steely grey chill, except in the blinding heat of the smith's forge. But as Balian journeys toward the Middle East, it is replaced with the coppery sheen of heat on flesh and horses' flanks; sand reflecting the sun’s rays. The shimmering colours of the environment are as much a part of the movie as the action in the forefront.

“Holiness is in right action, and in courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves.” So Tiberius, Steward of Jerusalem (a very good-looking Jeremy Irons), tells Balian, and it looks like Orli takes it to heart, defending the innocents and protecting the walls of Jerusalem. It is one of the few times looks like he’s enjoying himself; it was one of the few times I was not. War scenes make me ill, and this one is particularly graphic. There is blood, steel, mud, sunlight, pain, falling blows, death, falling, dying, grief and, inevitably, vultures. Be careful if you are of sensitive disposition, as it will upset you. But it’s realistic, for all its graphic bloodiness. It’s worth remembering that the battles, at least, probably happened much this way.

Is there heaven in a battlefield? In a leper’s death-bed, in politics and intrigue and deal-breaking, in unhappy marriages and wives dead from suicide? There is no heaven for Balian to find, despite seeking forgiveness. In the end, of course, there is heroism instead, and Bloom makes the most of battle.

I don’t know my Crusade history half as well as my Ancient Greek, and I have a suspicion that for scholars this movie will enrage them as much as Troy did me. But for the average watcher, this movie’s okay. But don’t go for Orlando, or for the history. Go for the lush epicness of the world Scott’s created. And close your eyes during the battle scenes.


Starring: Orlando Bloom’s heavenly horse-riding, Liam Neeson’s spiritual attitude, Eva Green’s delightful spunk; Edward Norton’s blessed eyes; Ghassan Massoud’s angelic acting; Marton Czokas’ holy hirsuteness; David Thewlis’ revered friendship; Brendan Gleeson’s saintly disrespect; and Jeremy Iron’s celestial scar.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 04:24 AM
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Nice review from Joong Ang Daily by David Moll.
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West versus East, once upon a time

May 27, 2005 ㅡ The siege of Jerusalem at the end of "Kingdom of Heaven" so strongly resembles the siege of Helm's Deep at the end of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" ― hopelessly outnumbered defenders, a stirring call to arms, the interesting process of laying siege to a walled fortress ― that I don't know how I sat through it without remembering that Orlando Bloom had been in the other one too. (A colleague had to point that out to me afterward.)

In my defense, Bloom as Legolas the elf was a rather self-effacing guy who didn't particularly stand out among the orcs and wizards and heirs to various thrones. In "Kingdom of Heaven," by contrast, he's the inspirational hero, responsible for stirring the outnumbered, ragtag army to exceed its limitations. He comports himself well enough in this time-honored war movie role, which, paradoxically, calls for a character who's not very interesting. Physical courage and self-sacrifice are pretty humdrum qualities in the movies.
The interesting characters in "Kingdom of Heaven" are the ones lurking around the fringes, played by people like Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson. Their shaded, complex little performances ― along with a worthy script and some gritty cinematography ― make this a much more thought-provoking product of the blockbuster factory than you might expect.

The setting is Jerusalem at the end of the 12th century, when the city had been held by the European Crusaders for almost a hundred years. (My ignorance of the Crusades is just about total, but subsequent slapdash research suggests the movie is reasonably respectful to history.) A dicey peace prevails between Jerusalem's King Baldwin and the Muslim hero Saladin, who has a massive army in the distance. Neither leader wants a war, but each has underlings agitating for it.

Into Jerusalem comes Balian (Bloom), a lowly provincial blacksmith who, in the heroic tradition, discovers greatness within himself. The son of a knight (Liam Neeson), Balian is taken in by his father's allies and drawn into the court strife. King Baldwin, it soon emerges, is a leper nearing death, and the faction in Jerusalem that wants to keep the peace is jockeying for succession with the faction that wants to spill Muslim blood for Jesus.

The parallel to present-day affairs is pretty clear, but it's evoked with such subtlety and nuance (until that final, big-budget siege, at any rate) that the points are evoked, not forced. (For an example of how not to do this, see "Revenge of the Sith," in which Darth Vader spouts a George W. Bush quote almost verbatim.) Again, it's the supporting actors who deserve the most credit. Jeremy Irons and David Thewlis bring welcome notes of irony and fatalism to their good-guy characters. But most remarkable of all is the actor who plays Baldwin, the leper king, without ever showing his face. The king wears a mask at all times to hide his disfigurement; the acting is all in the voice, and in how he moves his faltering body. It's a small, crucial performance, and it's indelible. I'll leave it to you to be surprised by the actor's identity in the end credits, if you like.
Source: Joong Ang Daily
And this one from Seattle University's The Spectator Online (Bailey?! Good gracious woman...get it right...it's BALIAN!).
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Kingdom Worth it for the Scenery

by Lauren Padgett

May 26, 2005

An extra asks Orlando Bloom, “does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?” In Ridley Scott’s new epic Kingdom of Heaven, the answer is a definite yes. It can make a born-and-raised blacksmith the best fighter of the ancient world, and leader of the Jerusalem Army.

Hollywood obviously used its tried and true war movie plot, which was lukewarm and typical. The saving grace of this film – besides Bloom’s penetrating eyes – is its gorgeous scenery. Throw aside your expansive knowledge of the Crusades that you gained through History 120 “Origins of Western Civilization,” and watch it like it is worth $130 million. Oh wait, it is.

The epic revolves around a lowly but amazingly good looking blacksmith Bailey (Bloom). Bailey is introduced a widower, mourning his wife who committed suicide. He is suddenly confronted with his ‘dead-beat dad,’ Lord of Ibelin (Liam Neeson, Gangs of New York), who is headed to Jerusalem on Crusade. Bailey decides to follow Lord Ibelin to Jerusalem in hopes of saving the soul of his wife, and finds himself contender for King, and lover of a princess (Eva Green, The Dreamers).

Scott directed Heaven along the same lines as his Academy Award-winning Gladiator. Academy Award winning executive producer Branko Lustig (Schindler’s List, Gladiator) and other all-star producers combined forces to dream up the biggest epic they could muster.

Historically, Kingdom of Heaven takes place during the period before the Third Crusade, when the Holy Land was ruled by power hungry Europeans. They are constantly fighting to keep the leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud, Syrian actor and film maker), of the Muslim group Saracens from taking Jerusalem.

There is a sense of modernity in Scott’s portrayal of the European/Muslim war. Kingdom of Heaven portrays the Muslims fairly, not as blood-hungry and evil villains to Europe. At one point, Bailey watches the Muslims pray to Allah, and makes a comment that “their prayers are a lot like ours.”

Much of the evil to be found in this film is within the European nobility. Reynald de Chatillon (Brendan Gleeson, Troy) is hilarious as a blood-thirsty nobleman in search of a war. You can’t help but laugh at his tie-dyed facial hair.

Ridley Scott worked his $130 million budget. The scenery is vivid, and the images of ancient Jerusalem are breathtaking. You almost sweat just watching the actors struggle through the desert heat. The battle scenes are vast and intricate, with what seems to be millions of people fighting to the death. The chanting prayer music is also very well done.

Although the plot seemed to drag along like it was dying of desert heat, the movie is still quite good. See Kingdom of Heaven for the imagery, for Bloom or for the battle scenes. No matter what you are looking for, you will not be disappointed.
Source: The Spectator Online
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Old May 27th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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Bailey huh!!!

Suejo
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Old May 27th, 2005, 08:35 AM
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What an inexcusable mistake!
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Old May 27th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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BAILEY? HAHAHA! That made me laugh so hard...
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Old May 27th, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Nothing like a well-researched article! At least she got the title of the movie right.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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Balian or Bailey ?? At least she appreciated Orlando's eyes !!! Both reviews of Kingdom of Heaven were positive and both praised Orlando's acting......SO WHERE WERE THESE REVIEWS WHEN THE MOVIE OPENED HERE IN THE U.S. ???
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  #462  
Old May 27th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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Bailey of Ibelin?

It reminds me of one of those Korean "engrish" subtitles on aLoTR "crebain",where Aragorn saying "I am Aragorn,son of Arathorn." was translated "I am Aragorn,son of Alfred."
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Old May 28th, 2005, 12:06 AM
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I always thought Bailey(s) is a whiskey brand ...


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  #464  
Old May 28th, 2005, 12:36 AM
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Well thank you very much - whenever I'm going to drink some Bailey's on the Rocks in the future, I will think of a certain blacksmith
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  #465  
Old May 28th, 2005, 02:13 AM
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We missed this one from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Quote:
A 'Kingdom' drenched in blood, sweat, fanaticism

Mick LaSalle, Chronicle Movie Critic

Friday, May 6, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven: Action drama. Starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green and Liam Neeson.Directed by Ridley Scott. (R. 144 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

To make a successful Hollywood film about the Crusades, a big obstacle has to be overcome. To put it bluntly: The West was wrong, and the West lost, and yet this is not the era in which to expect Western audiences to embrace the sight of Muslim armies chopping up Christian invaders. Nor does the opposite sight hold any appeal. The subject is seemingly too fraught and too close to home, and yet it's precisely out of that tension that screenwriter William Monahan has fashioned an intelligent and highly topical epic. Director Ridley Scott has brought it home with banners flying.

To say that Scott did a beautiful job directing "Kingdom of Heaven" would be true, but it wouldn't convey the nature of the achievement. A better way to say it is that Scott, in the course of planning and making this huge film, made many thousands of decisions, little and big, and just about all of them turned out right. The scenes of spectacle provide the most flamboyant evidence of the director's sureness and imagination, but they're also evident in the acting moments and in unexpected casting choices, such as that of the young and ultra-modern Eva Green ("The Dreamers") as a medieval princess.

Unlike Oliver Stone's "Alexander," which tried to enlist the audience on Alexander's side by sweeping moral considerations under the rug, "Kingdom of Heaven" embraces moral complexity. The Christian invaders fight for God and for greed. Some are motivated by faith, and some are just murderous. Balian (Orlando Bloom), the bastard son a knight, finds himself confronted with uncomfortable decisions, in which there are no clear-cut moral choices. Death is the consequence of every course of action. The movie's one consistent point of view is that rationality is to be favored over fanaticism. "To kill an infidel is not murder, it's the path to heaven," a priest says, as he greets warriors who'll soon embark for the Middle East. It's the movie's reminder that pious bloodlust is a disease that strikes all sides.

They say the door of opportunity opens once for everybody. For Balian, it arrives in the form of an aging knight (Liam Neeson), passing through on the way back to his estate near Jerusalem. Balian, a blacksmith, looks all set to sweat away the rest of his days, banging with a hammer on a molten sword. (Is that all they ever made in those days?) But the knight identifies himself as Balian's long-lost dad and offers to take him to Jerusalem. After a brief delay for decision-making, in which Balian commits a needless murder, he joins Dad's group, which includes a wise and twinkly parson (David Thewlis).

For Balian, Jerusalem is an opportunity to remake his life, to be accepted on his merits and live like a prince. Jerusalem is presented as a singular outpost on the edge of the world, rather like the French settlement in "Apocalypse Now Redux." The Europeans have imported their customs, and yet the whole thing feels makeshift and temporary, and with this temporary sense comes a loose attitude, such as one might find in a border town.

Balian, who has a guilty conscience, feels outside of God's grace, which, ironically, is the key factor in his emergence as a decent man. He aligns himself with Tiberias (Jeremy Irons) and the very reasonable but leprosy- ravaged King (Edward Norton), who both want to co-exist with the Arabs. The other faction is represented by a mentally unbalanced lord (Brendan Gleeson) and Guy de Lusignan, the King's brother-in-law and presumed heir (Marton Csokas). Though surrounded on all sides by Arab armies, these two want to attack and slaughter them. Attuned to all shifts in power, they combine a realpolitik unscrupulousness with an utterly delusional faith that God will aid them, no matter what murderous course they undertake. That would seem to be an unlikely combination of traits, except that their type has never ceased turning up in history.

The relaxed morals of the Christian outpost make it possible for the blacksmith to soon have carnal knowledge of the politically savvy princess, a case of upward social mobility unheard of in 1186 -- the American dream realized a full 600 years before there even was such a thing. At first Green looks young for the role, but no, she's just right: Royalty must grow up and get wise fast. And she does seem wise, watchful and pragmatic.

"Kingdom of Heaven" is long and sometimes seems long. That, and the fact that occasionally it's difficult to tell who's fighting whom, are about the worst things that can be said for it. Fortunately, all confusion is eliminated for the final sequence, a siege by the Islamic general Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) of Jerusalem's walls. The siege, which goes on for days, is presented in meticulous and absorbing detail, and one comes away from the film with a pretty advanced understanding of medieval military maneuvering. The sky fills with arrows, catapults send fiery rocks crashing into the battlements, and the attacking army struggles to place platforms within range, from which soldiers might scale the walls. The movie shows that the strategies were sophisticated, even if the means were primitive.

-- Advisory: Sexual situations, graphic violence and armies getting medieval on each other.
Source: SF Chronicle
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  #466  
Old May 29th, 2005, 04:57 AM
Leggybelle Leggybelle is offline
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I've been reading a lot of good reviews of KOH lately on this thread, but if so many reviewers liked the movie and understood what Ridley Scott was trying to do/say, how come so many negative reviews early on? Was that just to assure that it wouldn't have good US box office? (Maybe because it didn't use Hollywood stars??, so they wouldn't allow it to be a success??)
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Old May 29th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leggybelle
I've been reading a lot of good reviews of KOH lately on this thread, but if so many reviewers liked the movie and understood what Ridley Scott was trying to do/say, how come so many negative reviews early on? Was that just to assure that it wouldn't have good US box office? (Maybe because it didn't use Hollywood stars??, so they wouldn't allow it to be a success??)
I think it was because it wasn't what they expected it to be,really.It seems to have been released to be some sort of summer blockbuster.
This film is of a different quality than that.I'm not saying summer blockbusters are bad movies,not at all.
What I mean is that except for the impressive battlescenes,this movie is quieter and more thoughtful.It demands some brainpower.You have to study the characters a bit,let them sink in.
I think both some critics and the audience weren't ready for that.
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Old May 29th, 2005, 08:14 PM
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I agree with Malene on this. Summer blockbusters are usually big bangs and laughs and pure entertainment. KOH on the other hand is very much a thought provoking movie. A lot people weren't expecting that as it certainly wasn't promoted as such. So you end up with people who were expecting pure entertainment being disappointed, while others who might have enjoyed the movie not seeing the it because they thought KOH was going to be another thrill ride for a summer audience. And then you have those who went into the movie with an open mind and being pleasantly surprised by this gem of a movie. I still think the timing of the release of this movie, and the way it was promoted (or lack of promotion) is the reason for the lacklustre box office in the US. What a waste! So many more people might have enjoyed the movie had Fox not screwed up so royally.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 08:49 PM
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Missed this one.
Quote:
After the neo-colonialist heroics of ‘Black Hawk Down’, you might have expected another ‘shock and awe’ job from Scott’s take on the Crusades, yet this intelligent epic proves a strikingly conciliatory report from the Middle East. By 1186, Jerusalem is still held by the Christians, though only as part of a working truce with the powerful Muslim leader Saladin that offers religious tolerance within the city. Unfortunately, enlightened Christian ruler Baldwin IV, the so-called ‘leper king’, is in decaying health with no successor. With a tussle for control looming, it’s time for Orlando Bloom’s knight Balian to make his mark, as the former blacksmith arrives in the city to assume control of his Crusader knight father’s lands and find his spiritual purpose in the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

Enshrining the fruitfulness of compromise and establishing a man’s worth through his actions rather than adherence to clerical prescripts, Balian’s quest for conflict resolution brings much respect for wise Saladin (charismatic Syrian Ghassan Massoud), with the villains of the piece clearly the holy-war-mongering Christian fundamentalist Knights Templar (Brendan Gleeson and Marton Csokas, who seriously over-eggs it). If the contemporary angle is obvious, and presumably not what Bush’s America wants to hear, it’s also perhaps just a touch too impeccably liberal to convince in its proper historical context, though never less than absorbing. Cramped for space at 144 minutes, reducing love interest Eva Green’s Princess Sibylla to an exotic bystander, the film’s storytelling is often awkward, but it offers quality mayhem with its slashing, spouting battle scenes and copious boiling oil. Overall, it’s striking in thought and deed, and you will honestly believe they rebuilt twelfth-century Jerusalem for the occasion. TJ
Source: Time Out
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Old May 31st, 2005, 09:15 PM
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I agree with this critic. Especially that it is striking in thought and deed.
And it looks so real. I believe everything I see.
Tinsy tiny over acting by Brendan Gleeson ans Martin Csokas as the obvious baddies,but overall glittering perfomances by everyone.
I agree with a critic.
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  #471  
Old June 1st, 2005, 07:51 AM
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From Louisana's 2theadvocate.com.
Quote:
'Kingdom of Heaven' not epic
By KEVIN L. MCQUARN
kmcquarn@theadvocate.com
2theadvocate.com movie critic

I love action movies. An epic battle, the clash of two opposing forces, a single character standing up for what he believes -- now that's the stuff of legend! Movies like "Braveheart," "Troy," "The Gladiator" and "The Patriot" all top my great historic movies list.

"Kingdom of Heaven," however, is not one of these movies.

This Ridley Scott film focuses on Balian, played by Orlando Bloom. After the death of his wife and child, Bloom's character is found by his previously unknown father and offered the opportunity for a better life. He reluctantly accepts, and his whirlwind adventure as a knight in the Crusades begins.

"Kingdom of Heaven" tries to turn Balian's lengthy story into an epic. Unfortunately, a long movie does not necessarily mean a good movie. Forty-five minutes could have easily been edited from this film.

Although some of the battle scenes were well-played, others lasted entirely too long. There are only so many times a catapult can launch a fiery mass at a wall before it starts to get a little repetitive.

Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and Eva Green are fine actors, but their performances just weren't enough to carry this movie.

Even with some splendid action scenes and the obligatory romance, the script is still very weak. The events surrounding the characters can even be somewhat confusing. In other words, if you haven't recently studied the Crusades, the different factions and their agendas aren't going to make a whole lot of sense at first.

Character development is also an issue in "Kingdom." There are too many scenarios that are left unexplained.

For example, Balian, who is a blacksmith, learns advanced battle techniques and hand-to-hand combat from a five minute sparing session with his father. Even though his dad is rumored to be a fantastic warrior, this leads me to only two conclusions. Either Balian learns from his father subliminally or his family battle gene is similar to the force in "Star Wars."

Overall, with a little more clarity in characterization and a little less movie, "Kingdom of Heaven" could have easily been the epic that it was hoping to become.

4 OUT OF 10 POINTS
Source: 2theadvocate.com

The man thought 45 MORE minutes could have been cut?! "Character development is also an issue in "Kingdom." There are too many scenarios that are left unexplained." Yes, that's true but how would cutting 45 additional minutes have helped in this regard unless he just wanted to:

1) cut out the forest fight...no wait, there is a little exposition there needed to explain that Balian fights well and that Godfrey had the right to take him (Balian)...

2) cut out Reynald and Guy's attack on the Muslim caravan in favor of more love scene...hmmm

3) cut out the Battle of Kerak...no wait, action filled sequence showing that Balian is willing to risk his life for the people, Nasir is revealed to be not a servant but a lord and the splendid King Baldwin in action!

4) cut out the already unshown Battle of Hattin and just mention it in passing...

5) cut out the Seige of Jerusalem...

6) add 45 minutes of character development...yay! Wait, the film would still be 45 minutes too long...

*sigh*
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:12 AM
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I don't think that reviewer knew what he wanted
I don't get how you can call Troy and The Patriot a couple of your favourite movies and then complain that KoH won't be one of them because there was too much battle and not enough character development...does anyone else see the irony here?
I don't mind Troy and The Patriot but they aren't exactly great character studies.

Gulf Daily News - The Voice Of Bahrain

Quote:
Blockbuster has powerful message

SIR Ridley Scott, master of the modern epic, returns with another work of art with Kingdom of Heaven.

Truthfully, I liked this film and I came out of Dana Cinema all thoughtful, mainly because here's a motion picture that was not made for entertainment purposes only - but carries a strong message as well.

I think it is a film all must see, especially in today's troubled times,

Kingdom of Heaven is an epic adventure about a common man, Balian (excellently played by British actor Orlando Bloom), who finds himself thrust into a decades-long war.

A stranger in a strange land, he serves a doomed king (American actor Edward Norton), falls in love with an exotic and forbidden queen (French actress Eva Green) and rises to the knighthood.

Ultimately, Balian must protect the people of Jerusalem from overwhelming forces while striving to keep a fragile peace.

If you're a fan of Sir Ridley's work then you'd be familiar with his mastery of cinematic storytelling.

In this film, he turns to the Crusades: that world-shaping 300-year collision between Europe and the East.

Sir Ridley and the veteran production team, who he worked with on Gladiator, have done an awesome job in creating historical worlds onscreen.

The actors that stood out included Norton, Green and Irish actor Liam Neeson as Balian's father Godfrey.

But the star of the film for me was Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, who played Salahudin, the historic Muslim hero.

The message that we'll all get from this film may vary, but here's what I gathered: we can live in this world together by dialogue - not by fighting and not by fanatics.

Kingdom of Heaven is being screened at the Dana Cinema at Dana Mall, in Sanabis.

It is Rated R for strong violence and epic warfare.

Last edited by Interconnector; June 1st, 2005 at 08:35 AM.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Thanks, Interconnector, for posting another great review !! This reviewer saw exactly what Ridley Scott was aiming to show !!!
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 12:01 AM
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Great review!

The more awesome, as this comes from a quite big newspaper from the Middle East!!!


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Old June 5th, 2005, 07:30 PM
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Browsing Amazon users reviews, I came across these two which I liked. The first is actually an editorial review from Amazon.
Quote:
Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
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 Heaven is 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 the LOTR series 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 in the lead (then again, who does?), but it's the underdeveloped character and not the actor that hurts the film and impacts its power. Balian isn't given much more to do than be sullen and give an occasional big speech, alongside his perplexing abilities for warfare tactics and his wandering moral compass (whose sole purpose seems to be to put a love scene in the movie). Note: all the major characters except Neeson's are based on fact, but many are heavily fictionalized. --Doug Thomas
This one from an Amazon customer.
Quote:
All right, all right, this epic looks and feels like Ridley Scott's earlier masterpiece, "Gladiator," and it has a peach-fuzzed Legolas as its lead, yet. . .yet. . .KINGDOM OF HEAVEN absolutely entertains and rewards its viewers with complete cinematic bliss.

Director (and Producer) Scott brings forth the story of the medieval Crusades while simultaneously employing many of the filmmaking techniques and gadgetry that made "Gladiator" an Oscar-caliber winner. Here, in KINGDOM, we are treated to the same compelling movie-making craftmanship: sweeping vistas, slow-motion photography (augmented by flying debris of dirt, weaponry, and various body parts), stellar images, haunting music. Scott has succeeded, just as he did with "Gladiator," in telling a story so hypnotically appealing that the viewer is instantly transported to the 12th Century, where day-to-day life was, if one may be so bold, somewhat risky, and fraught with peril unimaginable.

What totally surprised me the most was the performance of Orlando Bloom. As a young French blacksmith who suffers from the recent loss of his wife and child, and then makes a life-changing decision to join his Catholic brethren in Jerasulem--at the present an unstable bastion of religious tolerance--Bloom's character Balian is completely troubled, tortured, compelling, and believable. The actor takes this epic on his youthful shoulders and carries it admirably--even when the story stretches itself to limits as tight as a rubber band on the verge of snapping apart. Bloom is extraordinary; his Legolas legacy is successfully jettisoned.

Yet KINGDOM OF HEAVEN boasts a plethora of incredible acting performances. Liam Neeson is wonderful as Balian's long-lost father, Godfrey; Jeremy Irons remarkable as Jerusalem marshal Tiberias; Eva Green sensuous and delightful as story love interest Sibylla; Ghassan Massoud steady and rational as Muslim antogonist Saladin; Brendan Gleeson despicable as a bigoted Crusader nobleman; Marton Csokas maniacal as the ultimate evil-doer Guy de Lusignan--a potential leader obsessed with re-igniting a Christian-Muslim war. And Edward Norton, as fragile, disease-infested King Baldwin IV, weighs in with perhaps the film's best performance.

Yes, this sword and sandal epic has been down the road of "been there, done that," yet KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is handsome enough to stand proudly on its own dusty merits. The siege of Jerusalem alone is worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
--D. Mikels
Source: Amazon.com
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