Directed by: SIR RIDLEY SCOTT
Starring: ORLANDO BLOOM, LIAM NEESON, JEREMY IRONS, EVA GREEN,
EDWARD NORTON, DAVID THEWLIS, BRENDAN GLEESON
Released by: 20th Century
Short: The Crusades go on and on in this
muddled attempt at exploring the roots of the
Christian-Muslim religious conflicts, circa
the 12th century.
Bliss in This "Heaven"
the right elements were in place to make "Kingdom
of Heaven" an unforgettable moviegoing experience:
a great director, Sir Ridley Scott, with multiple Oscar
nominations ("Gladiator," "Black Hawk Down");
legendary actors Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson; a brand-new
female face with French ingenue Eva Green; and male heartthrob
of the moment Orlando Bloom in the lead. And what theme
could be more timely than the problematic co-existence
of the major religions of the world, Christianity and
film opens well, as the humble blacksmith Balian, Bloom's
character, discovers that he is the son of a knight (Neeson)
and joins his father in his Crusade toward Jerusalem.
There the film begins to crawl along, with complex rivalries,
romances and Christian vs. Muslim themes ploddingly unraveled.
It's not for lack of trying on the actors' part, as the
performances across the board are believable and in keeping
with the time, especially Edward Norton's turn as the
king whose leprosy forces him to live behind a silver
film revs up again after about two hours, when the ultimate
battle for the holy city takes place, with Balian defending
Jerusalem against Saladin and his massive Muslim forces.
The battle scenes are definitely compelling, in a "The
Lord of the Rings" kind of way, with flaming arrows,
battering rams and hand-to-hand combat evoking what the
reality of war must have been back in those ancient times.
word is that Ridley Scott's original cut of "Kingdom
of Heaven" is closer to four hours long and that
the longer version answers all the questions that make
the theatrical cut seem so confused in its story line.
It is that adaptation that will reportedly come to life
when the DVD releases; and that's the movie we want to