Kingdom of Heaven

"Weak"

Kingdom of Heaven Review


For almost five years now, Hollywood studios have beentrying to duplicate the success of "Gladiator"by making the same big-budget historical battle epic over ("TheLast Samurai") and over ("Troy")and over ("KingArthur") and over ("Alexander").

Each movie has re-imagined history from a modern, let's-keep-an-open-mindperspective and hewed to a shopworn formula in which the hero rallies hismen against great odds and for a greater good. He invariably leads theminto the same blood-and-mud war scenes, which are always shot in the samestaccato slow-motion that characterizes the chaos of combat but forgetsthe audience needs to be kept abreast of who is winning. The hero alsoalways finds time to romance a beautiful woman from another culture.

Aside from having different casts, the only significantvariations between these films seem to be 1) whether the hero was of noblebirth or came up from nothing to become a great leader, and 2) whetherthe battlefields are green and forested or brown and sandy. One thing mostof them definitely have in common is that they've bombed at the box office.

"Kingdom of Heaven" is more of the same. Thistime the hero is Balian (Orlando Bloom), a bland French blacksmith andgrieving widower (although you wouldn't know it by Bloom's narrow rangeof facial expressions) who becomes a knight of the Crusades and the defenderof Christian-occupied Jerusalem against a massive Muslim army that layssiege to get it back.

Couching the plot in real events, writer William Monahanlayers the film in exposition designed to show both reason and extremismon all sides of the conflict, but "Kingdom of Heaven" doesn'thave much to say on the subject of harmony and co-existence between faiths.The motives of its villains (primarily a power-hungry European knight spoilingfor a religious rumble) and the internal politics of Jerusalem's royalChristian court are vaguely drawn as well -- although it's clear the king(a festering leper played from behind a mask by an uncredited Edward Norton)prefers the fragile peace he's engineered in the region and is countingon Balian to maintain it when he dies.

But peace is not meant to be, and in the picture's thirdact director RidleyScott (who also helmed "Gladiator")delves into battle scenes, leading to the climactic siege and Balian'sseverely out-manned defense, not of Jerusalem's walls (he knows he'll haveto surrender the city eventually) but of its diverse and neutral people.

Full of top-notch special effects and creative combat strategy-- inexplicably devised by Bloom the blacksmith and designed to maximizecinematic thrills -- the historical accuracy of this combat finale, andthe events and circumstances surrounding it, are dubious at best. The filmis even less reliable when it comes to its hero's personal history. Thereal-life Balian, who did defend Jerusalem in 1187, has otherwise beenfictionalized almost beyond recognition -- especially when it comes tothe obligatory hubba-hubba with the generically pretty wife (Eva Green)of the villain (Marton Csokas).

Bloom's wallpaper performance, which certainly won't holdthe attention of anyone who doesn't have his pin-up plastered around herbedroom, doesn't do the guy any favors either. After his introductory scene,in which he impulsively kills a man with a red-hot sword (from his metalshop'sfire) for a slight against his dead wife, he just doesn't hold the screen.

Only the depiction of the Muslim sultan Saladin (GhassanMassoud) as a relatively magnanimous man of honor resembles historicalaccounts (and has any charisma), although his generosity toward the civiliansof Jerusalem has been embellished so as to sit better with 21st centuryaudiences.

With extremely realistic costumes, hair, makeup, and CGI-rendered12th century cityscapes, "Kingdom of Heaven" has no trouble bringingBalian's world to life. The movie's problem is in finding enough of a pulseto keep that world interesting.



Kingdom of Heaven

Facts and Figures

Run time: 144 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th May 2005

Box Office USA: $47.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $211.6M

Budget: $130M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Scott Free Productions, BK, KOH, Reino del Cielo, Babelsberg Film, Inside Track 3, Calle Cruzada, Dune Films, Kanzaman

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 72 Rotten: 114

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Balian de Ibelin, as Sibylla, as Tiberias, as Guy de Lusignan, as Reynald de Chatillon, as Godfrey de Ibelin, as King Baldwin, as Priest, as Saladin, as Almaric, as Nasir, Khaled Nabawy as Mullah, as English Sergeant, as Hospitaler, Martin Hancock as Gravedigger, as Balian's Wife, as Saladin's Sister

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.