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Kingdom of Heaven Review

Published May 8, 2005 in Movie Review
By Vince Palomarez | Images property of 20th Century Fox
<i>Kingdom of Heaven</i> Kingdom of Heaven
This week marks the beginning of the summer movie season where every studio is looking to unleash their big budget, big name directed, star studded movie in the hopes of claiming a big share of all the billions of dollars that are spent each summer. The first film up to bat is Ridley Scott's epic take on the crusades, Kingdom of Heaven.

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Kingdom of Heaven stars Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings, Troy) as Balian, a blacksmith who is questioning his faith in god after his wife commits suicide due to the loss of their unborn baby. Not even five minutes into Kingdom of Heaven Balian is introduced to his long lost father Godfrey, a knight and lord of Jerusalem that wants to atone for his past mistakes and give his son what is rightfully his. From there Balian is stuck in the middle of the crusades and the fight for Jerusalem between Catholics and Muslims.

<i>Kingdom of Heaven</i> Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven
Right off the bat this film goes at a break neck pace and doesn't seem to slow down until the final resolution. This film is two and half hours long and Ridley Scott tries to fit in as much in that two and half hours as possible. What you get is a lot of information to take in and at first it can get a tad bit confusing on what's going on. Once the story gets off the ground the fast pace helps keep the film tolerable. If there is one thing I love about medieval period pieces it's the epic violent battles and trust me this film has plenty of them. While nowhere near the king of all period piece battles Braveheart, this film holds it's own with intense action and great fight choreography. These battles aren't for the squeamish, but they are very exciting and powerful. The extent Kingdom of Heaven took to get the look and feel of 12th century Jerusalem really shows and the set pieces and special effects are what you would expect from these films. With a big budget blockbuster comes the A list cast and most of the actors do an excellent job primarily Liam Neeson (who leaves way too early), Brendan Gleeson as Reynald a corrupt lord, David Thewlis as Godfrey a Zen like warrior loyal to Balian and a totally unrecognizable Edward Norton as King Baldwin, a leper close to his final days. Ridley Scott does an excellent job of balancing the views of the Muslims, Jews and Catholics without making any seem like the main villain.

<i>Kingdom of Heaven</i> Kingdom of Heaven
Now what kind of review would it be without me talking about what I didn't like about this film and trust me there was plenty of it. For starters, as much as I do love a good epic period piece they've been done so many times before there is nothing new about them. How many times do we have to see a farmboy/peasent searching for a greater purpose, get called to some higher glory, become a great warrior/leader in no time at all and meet the woman of his dreams only to have some purpose or rival deny their love? Right off the bat I can name at least 10 films like that and this film does little to change that formula. Everything in Kingdom of Heaven is way too predictable even up to the big speech Balian says to his troupes before they march into the final battle. With Orlando Bloom being Hollywood's prototypical golden boy, his wooden performance and good looks makes his character seem too "perfect". He just doesn't make a big enough presence to warrant a lead in this film, that and his nonexistent chemistry with Eva Green's character really hurts any chance for a love story.

The fact that everything moves at such a fast pace might add a little bit of comedy or drive you nuts depending on what you are expecting from Kingdom of Heaven. Orlando Bloom's character goes from ordinary blacksmith to ultimate warrior in no time at all and some passages of time are dealt with very quickly in order to get to the big moments of the film. It gets to be quite funny and unbelievable at times.

The fact that Ridley Scott is making a film with a similar theme to his Oscar winning film Gladiator really hurts this when comparing the two (which many people will). If you enjoy these films and don't mind that they've been done countless of times before; you will get your money's worth. Otherwise you're better off renting Braveheart.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Vince Palomarez
Sources: Images property of 20th Century Fox

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