2 1/2 Stars
Ridley Scott films have an amazing attention to detail. Everything from production, set and costume design to the actual cinema techniques of editing, cinematography and script are poured over with feverish devotion. Wether it be an alien vessel, a look at modern warfare or gladiatorial days in the Roman coliseum; Scott and his collaborators are masters of recreating a time period and mounting gargantuan production behind them. Kingdom of Heaven
is Scott’s first return to ancient times since the OSCAR winning Gladiator
, the two films couldn’t be more different. Those seeking the majestically beautiful violence of that earlier classic will be disappointed to find that Kingdom is a slow-moving, often-times ponderous affair than is more thought-provoking film. In fact other than two or three protracted battle sequences, including a doozy in the final act, there is a virtual lack of violence or action of any kind.
It’s hard to say if Orlando Bloom is too lightweight in the lead role or if the script has pigeonholed his character as to be so upstanding, that he is nearly angelic. Bloom is Balian de Ibelin, a blacksmith guilty of murdering a priest in a rage when he discovers the man has robbed the grave of his recently deceased wife. Fleeing for fear of capture Balian is met by Godfrey (Liam Neeson) a returning crusader who is Balian’s long absent father. This leads to the younger man’s unlikely role in the battle of Jerusalem between the Christians and Muslims. Of course there is plenty of political backstabbing, back-room intrigue and adultery that is customary to this type of story.
All of this is handled with such detailed realism that the when the final battle comes it feels authentic and not out of the Spartacus playbook. Unfortunately the rousing fury of Gladiator has been replaced by the muted tone of this ponderous film that favors brain over brawn. In the end Kingdom of Heaven is much like the conflict it depicts, brutal and messy but ultimately not worth the effort.
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons