By Vince Palomarez | Images property of 20th Century Fox
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.
First Movie Poster for Harry Potter
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.
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.
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.