22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2006
Kingdom of Heaven, the Director's Cut, is steeped in history and faithful to the Middle Ages. The time period was filled with religious and political hypocrisy, cruelty and greed, where innocent people suffered for the power and land grabs of kings and religious leaders--sound familiar?
Ridley Scott presents his vision of the Middle Ages and the Crusades with rich colours, beautiful architecture, panoramic vistas, glorious costumes, and in my opinion, with a certain sarcastic and almost angry tone to the script. William Monahan's script was written in a way to show the viewer that even though the film is about those wars that occurred almost one thousand years ago, those wars are still occurring today. And those wars still lead to the intolerable suffering of innocent people.
There is a truly revolutionary subtext in the script. The oath that Balian takes when he knighted by Godfrey (played by Liam Neeson): 'Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth, always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless. Do no wrong', is an oath we should all take, with or without the God reference. We could all 'do the right thing' and in doing so, we could create a 'Kingdom of Conscience'. This idea is peppered throughout the film, and it makes one think: if we all acted ethically, there would be a lot less government and coercive religion, but more importantly, THERE WOULD BE NO WAR.
The actors were well-cast for their roles. Orlando Bloom is perfect as Balian. His role requires intelligence, skepticism, ethical and physical strength, and Bloom got it exactly right. Ghassan Massoud, who plays Saladin, has a truly majestic presence on the screen that makes it easy for the viewer to believe the history--that Saladin was one of the greatest warrior kings, ever.
There are some shots of battle scenes that owners of the Lord of the Rings extended edition will recognize. The raid at Osgiliath, the battle at Helm's Deep, the charge at Pelennor Fields and the siege of Gondor seem to have been transplanted from Middle Earth to the Middle East, but it is astonishing to see how much more life-like, gritty and violent Ridley Scott has filmed battle scenes.
Anyone who is a history nut for the period will be rolling in catnip. Again, in my opinion, this film could be a lot longer, perhaps giving more historical background, considering all the back and forth that went on between kings and popes, etc. Sir Ridley, if you read this . . .
Kingdom of Heaven is one of the best films I have ever seen.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2008
Sometimes I really think that Ridley Scott should stand up to his producers. I've lost count of the different ways he's remade Blade Runner, he clearly wasn't happy with the final cut of Gladiator (or he's just reselling old material); and in this case he should have stuck to his guns and kept a substantial amount of material in. The original release is a marginal historical epic with a couple of gorgeous shots, but the extended version really develops characters further, widens the scope of the film, and, to put it bluntly, makes more sense. Once you see how certain scenes were meant to look, you'll be amazed at the ways in which he consented to butcher his own film.
The fundamental weakness of the film remains unalterable - and that is Orlando Bloom. Great Legolas, great Will Turner, but lacks the gravity to be the centrepoint of an epic film. I don't know why this is so - I like the guy and enjoy his acting - but he just doesn't carry things in the manner of, say, Russell Crowe in Gladiator.
Despite the film's weaknesses - in acting, in ambiguous dialogue, in some real historical whoppers - I like it. Scott is tackling an area of history where angels fear to tread, and I think that he really manages to give the audience a wonderful Salah ad-Din, and a solid Reynald of Chatillon (apart from some silly shouting). Liam Neeson as Godfrey is wonderfully dry, and probably shouldn't have gone back to France to find his son.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I see by other comments, that others would rather watch American gas explosions and car chases. If that's all it takes to amuse you, then this is not your movie I guess. But then Hollywood Cookie-cutter movies do entertain those facinated by shiny objects don't they?
This is a very well done movie - in the special effects, in the grande scale of the visuals, in the casting (Bloom very believable I thought, as with the entire cast really), the visuals, the acting, story, and the historical accuracies in this movie made it particularly un-american and added greatly to my enjoyment of the film. I have curled up on the sofa and watched this movie 5 times so far and plan on re:watching again and again. Thoroughly enjoyable - a real treat to enjoy over and over again. I highly recommend.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2006
After watching the theatrical cut of the film I was dazzled by Ridley Scott's great visual style but left cold by the muddy storyline and character development. In this new 3hr cut the film is now one of my favorites of last year. The story has been fleshed out and even Orlando Bloom, who I thought was wildly miscast, seems perfect and convincing in the lead. Basically the studio thought that by cutting an hour of drama and leaving only battle scenes would make the film more exciting. WRONG. the new version flows seamlessly and I was never bored a moment. Unlike the dir cut. of GLadiator which the added scenes seemed tacked on and tedious, the new stuff here is absolutley essential. If you totally hated the first cut then you will probably won't like this either, but if you thought the film was good but could have been great I really advise you to check this out. I really think it's one of Scott's best films ( and if this version would have been released first I think it could have got a best picture nomination) oh well.........As for the set itself. the 4disc coll. is superb. the 3hr making of doc is almost too comprehensive, with a good commentary by Scott and Bloom, complete marketing campaign and dts sound to boot. Simply one of the best dvds of 2006 so far... enjoy!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2007
Kingdom of Heaven in 2005 will be what Gladiator was in 2000. Ridley Scott has delivered a worthy follow up to his Oscar winner, which is also based on medieval times, with a central heroic character, and supporting casts of characters based on history.
The sets are as spectacular, instead of just Rome and the Collesuem, we have the Middle East and Jerusalem. The costumes are beautiful, from intricately remade Knights armour, to the desert garb of the Muslim warriors. The soundtrack is a mixture of sounds with middle eastern influences, but somehow pales in comparison with Gladiator and lacks a central theme.
Much is said about how the film portrays religion, given the sensitive subject of the Crusades, but I feel that Ridley has achieved a wonderful balance between how Christianity and Islam are portrayed. Both are given fair airtime on their ideologies, and the film tries to preach (pardon the pun) about tolerance, yet highlights the dangers of fanatical followers of both religions, of misguidance from men in search of worldly power.
Which Christianity took a beating - where senseless battles are waged in the name of Christ, where insensitivity breed contempt. Preists are cast in negative light and given lines like "convert to Islam, repent later" when all around seems lost. It is emphasized in the show that what matters is in your head and in your heart - that noble actions speak louder than mere empty and repetitive "praise the Lord" chants, as if that will protect you during Judgement Day.
Orlando Bloom plays Balian, a blacksmith who became a fugitive, but inherited land and army from his father, Godfrey, played by Liam Neeson. The film can be broadly categorized into 3 acts - the first in which Balian searches for his identity and new life in Jerusalem, the second in which the focus is on religion and politics of the time, and the last, the spectacular siege and war.
Bloom puts up a commendable performance, so to his detractors out there, you're in for a big surprise. Edward Norton had the difficult task of acting through a mask as leper King Baldwin, and I applaud Ridley's decision of casting real Muslim actors to learn from them.
Fans of Eva Green might be disappointed that the relationship between Balian and Queen Sibylla was played down to focus on the battles, but I feel it's a fair trade off.
Firstly, some of you might not like the quick-cut-MTV style editing in Gladiator's fight scenes, especially the close ups. This is repeated here though, in a blood splattering manner. The pan-out and general landscape sweeps are mindblowing, and will leave you wanting more. Think about the battles that you see Lord of The Rings Two Towers and Return of the King - the siege on Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith - Kingdom of Heaven delivers the equivalent, probably even better (without the fantasy elements). This is one medieval war movie whose battles will stick in your mind for some time.
All things said and done I found this movie to be very entertaining. It's visually stunning, reasonably well acted with a decent script and some nice characters. What it lacks in coherence and story it makes up for with a strong and quick pace (for the genre) and some truly impressive action scenes. Wolfgang Petersson and Oliver Stone should watch this before they even think of making another historic epic. Because Ridley Scott has learned the important lesson so well put in "Gladiator": the people want to be entertained
The Muslim characters in the movie consists of Saladin (Ghassan Massoud)and , Muslim Grandee (Nasser Memazia who want Jerusalem for other uses such as for the nation of Islam. I should say the Muslim characters in this film get a large bulk of screen time. Furthermore, their characters are treated with respect and almost admiration. In fact Scott tells us their back story as well and we see display of Muslim religion in the movie such as Muslim praying in mosques and in the city of Jerusalem.
This reminds me of the Palestian/Israeli conflict of sorts where you have both sides that believe in God but are battling for the control of one city, despite the fact that they both profess to believing in God. Some questions to ponder are these other people with religious ideals worse than we say they are, or are they merely some religious fanatics misusing the name of God for power? Couple that the moral questions that almost every character goes through and the questioning and denouncement and spiritual awakening of God and my you got yourself a thought provoking film
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2013
I was not aware that the Director's Cut of Kingdom of Heaven would be so vastly different from the theatrical release until a friend of mine and I were discussing the film and he started explaining to me all of the plot-holes created by the theatrical editting of the film. So, I bought the bluray and saw for myself... Sure enough, the Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut was a completely new experience! With all of the additional footage included, there is actually a story that can be followed... not the shambles of a plot that was contained in the theatrical release. If you have not watched Kingdom of Heaven, just skip the Theatrical Release and see the Director's Cut.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
So to start, I have watched the original Kingdom of Heaven multiple times and finally clued into this Director's cut. The sole reason I bought it was because it did add an additional 45 minutes to the movie and it alone can blow your mind. It dives way deeper into the plot and becomes a tad more risque towards the religion topic.
All in all though, if you've seen Kingdom of Heaven and enjoyed it, you have to watch the director's cut.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2007
Kingdom of Heaven is another Ridley Scott epic,set during the time of
the Crusades in the 12th century,a time of war between the Christians
and the Muslims.Orlando Bloom plays Balian,a humble blacksmith who ends
up traveling to Jeruselum and(inadvertently) becomes defender of the
city and its people.I really enjoyed this film.Scott shows again why he
is so sought after as a director.the film contains epic battle
scenes,is beautifully photographed and very well paced.there only a few
minor problems with the film.one is the fact that a humble blacksmith
with little if any training would become a skilled warrior in the very
limited time shown in the film.also the fact that this same man would
then become leader of a nation.that seems a bit beyond the realm of
plausibility.and the casting of Orlando bloom is really weak.He is not
someone who would inspire confidence,mainly because he is too young and
lacks the maturity for the role.the rest of the film is well done,very
entertaining.again,it may not be historically accurate,but so what.you
want historical accuracy,watch the History channel.if you want an
entertaining piece of cinema,watch this movie.normally a movie this
well made would rate a perfect 5* but due to the poor casting of
Orlando Bloom,Kingdom of Heaven gets a 4.5/5
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2006
I read the review a few below this one, and the reviewer said he favored "Troy" over this movie. I hated "Troy" and loved "Kingdom of Heaven". The overall feel of KOH is dark and unclean. While people fight for something or someone they don't entirely understand.
"Troy" was a mainstream movie targeting your "average Joe" fellow walking down the street. KOH will appeal to you if like a good movie about a man who goes from rages to riches and does not follow the traditional directing of your everyday modernized action flick.
This movie is a good lesson, as such that fighting over land that is so over valued, is just plain stupid.
Present day Israel and Palestine could learn from this, but that’s a touchy subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2009
I can not believe this film did not do well in North America. It goes to show you the mentality of the people. Scott will be remembered as another Kubrick. It must be watched in Blueray on a 50" tv to appreciate the visuals. Scott's work will be studied in schools if not already. For those who are religious it will create interest in the Crusades. I found that I reflected on my own beliefs. I want to go to the city of heaven.