Kingdom of Heaven

DVD Reviews | Oct 15th, 2005

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Starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Marton Csokas, Eva Green, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons, Ed Norton, Ghassan Massoud
Written By: William Monahan
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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Kingdom of Heaven didn’t really last long at the box office, and people kind of forgot about it. I’m not really sure why, because I thought the film was a good action drama filled with lots of great actors. Pretty much any actor who’s been in an epic was in Kingdom of Heaven. The film did seem a little bit flawed but I think it should have been more successful at the box office. Perhaps it will be more successful on DVD, like many movies are these days

The film stars Orlando Bloom as Balian, a French Blacksmith, who is miserable and in mourning of his suicidal wife, but one day comes when he would lead a vast army of Knights and men to defend Jerusalem. Kingdom of Heaven starts out with a group of Crusaders marching through Balian’s village, looking for him. Liam Neeson plays Godfrey, a well known Crusader, who happens to be Balin’s father. Now that Balin has nothing, Godfrey is looking to bring him to Jerusalem and defend the walls that the Christians live behind. After hesitating, and killing a crooked priest in his village, Balin rides out to join the crusaders. There, they train Balin and try to enlighten him of what is going on in the middle east. Like every role that Liam Neeson plays, the mentor, he falls ill from battle and passes down his legacy and land to Balin. To go from a lonely blacksmith, to a leader and owner of a huge estate, Balin begins to stand near King Baldwin (Ed Norton, uncredited in the role.) Director Ridley Scott thought it was cool that Norton took an uncredited role, and didn’t draw attention to himself during the movie. The King was a leper and is wearing a mask the whole film, so really anyone could have played the part but to get a well known was a great idea. The city of Jerusalem is ruled by the Christians and Baldwin, where Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) and the Muslims have been trying to gain access and rule of the city. Between great action and a political back story, Kingdom of Heaven is fueled with great character actors, some of which you will definitely recognize for their roles in other period epics. Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson are some of the men that really round out the cast. You can always count on them to turn in great performances. I really think it was them that made the movie. Orlando Bloom is a good actor but I just don’t buy into him to be the leading action star. I think he favors well as more as a stronger supporting role than he does as a leader of an army like in Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps that was the point of it all. This quiet, blacksmith from France throws himself into something gigantic and does a great job with what he has to work with, and at times, the task at hand is hard to take on. I can’t forget to mention that they have to throw in a beautiful girl Sibylla (Eva Green), to play sister of Baldwin and future Queen. Eva Green hails from France and her beauty shows on screen. You may have seen her in The Dreamers. Besides having to take on a giant army of Muslims, Balian falls for the Queen, who is married to Guy de Lusignan (Martin Csokas.) I believe that may also help his decision to stay and defend Jerusalem where as he could have just abandoned it since it really wasn’t his home.

Not exactly, the full DVD treatment Ridley Scott likes, but still provides some good extras for the DVD. Though, I am sure in six months to a year, Scott will release a 3 disc set featuring more extensive documentaries and featurettes. This set provides you with a text commentary featuring tidbits and anecdotes from the set as well historical information about Jerusalem and other parts of that world. Interesting but found it distracting since we had to watch a copy of the movie that said “PROPERTY OF FOX PUBLICITY.” In giant white letters at the bottom. Not exactly the best experience watching the film. I hope they don’t continue with this trend. At least flash it in the beginning or something, not the whole damn film and takes up a quarter of the screen. Anyway, it was still nice to get the copy to review. The extras on disc two include several featurettes like A&E movie special which originally aired on the network, which branches the movie with actual history from that time period. Interesting for you history buffs. Also, you a get a similar featurette with The History Channels “History vs Hollywood: Kingdom Of Heaven.” My favorite extra was the Interactive production grid which allows access to watch several aspects of the production at your wishes. Whether, to watch featurettes on the cast, or switch it up and watch what went on in pre-production, or watch how the crew developed full scale sets which rival any big budget epic. I found the costumes, armor, weapons and sets all astounding. What a great job.

Overall, Kingdom of Heaven was extremely entertaining and featured a little history as well. I think one of the messages from the film is that, men mostly fight for power and wealth, and use pawns, and other men to do their dirty work with war and violence. When in reality, it really gets you nowhere. Look at this film, and you’ll see the same two parties are fighting the same war over a 1,000 years later. Yeah, really pointless. Can’t we all just get along? What’s the big deal of living one place compared to the other? Kingdom of Heaven really helps to show that. The film features a great cast, crew and director with a excellent score by Harry Gregson-Williams. I also enjoyed that Ridley Scott featured some of the 13th Warrior score by the late great Jerry Goldsmith. Per his interview on XM’s Cinemagic, he confirmed that he likes to use temp music and sometimes keeps the music because it fits so well. I believe he also used Graeme Revell score for The Crow. It’s not necessarily he doesn’t want the composer to use music there but gets an enjoyment out of film music and gives an ode to prior films. But if you are looking for a good epic film with some great battles and acting, then look no further and check out Kingdom of Heaven!

Disc 1
Inside Look: Tristan & Isolde
The Pilgrim’s Guide – A text commentary stream consisting of both production and historical notes, synchronous with film.

Disc 2
Interactive Production Grid – A simple to use navigation portal will ask viewers to choose the desired perspective and time frame allowing them to tailor the “Making Of” material to their liking. There are no less than 16 different ways to experience The Grid. (approx 125 minutes)
A&E Movie Real: “Kingdom of Heaven”
The History Channel’s “History vs. Hollywood” “Kingdom of Heaven”
Production Featurette
Wardrobe Featurette
Orlando Bloom “The Adventure of a Lifetime” Trailers

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital Stereo
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Stereo

Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)

English, Spanish, French

Favorite Scenes: Crusaders train Balian, Trek through the desert, The battles
Rating: R
Running Time: 144 minutes
Extras Rating:
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