filmfodder
Updated Whenever

Home > Movies > Reviews 
Kingdom of Heaven

  Kingdom of Heaven
"To the bordello! Huzzah!"

© 2005, 20th Century Fox
All Rights Reserved

One thousand years ago, the Christians controlled the holy land of Jerusalem, and the Muslims wanted it back. Caught in the middle of the war is Balian (Orlando Bloom), a young, bitter blacksmith who learns suddenly that his father (Liam Neeson) is a knight in the Christian army, looking to find an heir to his title. Balian travels to Jerusalem to find faith and honor, but he's soon is overcome by the corruption in the armies, and the spineless nature of the new king (a dreadful Martin Csokas, "XXX"). Leading his own charge, Balian struggles to find a middle ground with the Muslims, before the conflict ends up costing the lives of everyone he holds dear.

Even before the first frame flickers in front of the projection bulb, there are already several things askew about Ridley Scott's epic "Kingdom of Heaven" (IMDb listing). First is the familiarity of the direction, since Scott took on a similar journey in 2000' Oscar-winning film, "Gladiator." While the two pictures aren't brothers in plot or themes, the movies are unmistakably the work of the same vision. Scott runs "Kingdom" through a familiar obstacle course of vistas (snowflake and sand encrusted), bloodletting, and performances, all of which mirror the ambiance of "Gladiator" to a disconcerting degree. Scott can be a master stylist, but there's nothing fresh to the look of "Kingdom," which accentuates the screenplay's already languid nature and design. This is the first time a "been there, done that" mood has permeated a Ridley Scott film.

The other nagging problem of "Kingdom" is its timing. Audiences have been barraged with ancient battle films for many years now, starting with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and ending with last year's "Troy" and "Alexander." "Kingdom" serves up even more visuals of computer-generated armies rushing to battle, flying arrows that blacken the sky with their numbers, and lunging catapults tossing firebombs in every direction. While the timing of the release isn't Scott's fault, his modus operandi for "Kingdom" isn't a departure from what's already been covered by other filmmakers, which lessens the power of the production, and disappoints an eye used to Scott's occasionally inventive visuals.

The dense script, by William Monahan, doesn't cloud the mind like Oliver Stone's long-winded "Alexander," but it doesn't have much personality outside of the historical known quantities. This is due much in part to Scott's hasty editing of the film to bring it down from nearly 200 minutes, to the current theatrical running time of 135. Even without prior knowledge of cuts made, "Kingdom" radiates missed steps, resulting in unease with the characters and, at times, mild confusion with the story. Balian's romance with a queen (a wonderfully committed Eva Green, "The Dreamers") is given a Harlequin romance novel atmosphere: immediately pairing the two simply through immediate attraction and passing admiration. The same short-shift in attention is given to Balian's enemies, making an already embarrassing performance by Brendan Gleeson (who shockingly resembles Sweetums from "The Muppet Movie") all the more toxic and out of place. An already somber, colorless picture, "Kingdom" is hobbled greatly by this deletion of character and narrative foundation. I guess future DVD audiences will be the ones truly rewarded with Scott's full vision (a "director's cut" is planned).

In his first major leading role, Orlando Bloom demonstrates the urgent need for a non-period comedy to come his way soon. Bloom is all brood in "Kingdom," rarely expressing anything above a cold stare, which the actor does very well. But Balian doesn't come across as the tortured soul he's supposed to be. Bloom has some great early scenes during a training sequence with his father and his murder of a nasty priest, and Bloom is supported by some reasonable talent (Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, and a masked Edward Norton). However, once the weight of the journey settles in, Bloom dries up and is bowled over by the size of Scott's battle sequences.

Even under different release circumstances, I doubt "Kingdom of Heaven" would've connected properly. Yet, for the film to come out now, after many productions have already blazed this trail, makes the feeble triumphs of this forgettable blockbuster disappear without a trace.

Filmfodder Grade: C-



Buy Kingdom of Heaven posters








V for Vendetta
Posters
Celebrities
Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie
Halle Berry
Jessica Alba
Will Smith
Movies
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Wedding Crashers
Sin City
Garden State
Napoleon Dynamite
TV Shows
Lost
American Idol
Aqua Teens
Arrested Development
Battlestar Galactica

Movie Posters, Pictures, DVDs and More
in the Filmfodder Store

Superman Returns
Posters

Ad/Affiliate Info & Customer Service

Home | News | Movie Reviews | TV | Features | Forums | RSS Feeds | About Us | Site Map | Filmfodder Store | Fodder Network Headlines

2000-2006, The Fodder Network. All Rights Reserved. Don't steal our stuff.