"Good Knight" says the Crusader to his son...

Mar 13, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Gleeson, Irons, Neeson, Bloom (most of the time), some parts of the script...

Cons:... Eva Green, uninvolving characters...

The Bottom Line: I'd recommend watching it a first time, but not a second.

Kingdom of Heaven is a rather interesting film from Director Ridley Scott, but ultimately I found it rather uninspiring. It follows the journey of a young Blacksmith named Balian (Orlando Bloom), who turns out to be a Crusader Knight’s son, as he goes to the holy city Jerusalem seeking redemption. Along the way he encounters many different characters, and must learn to see through the fašades they present to the world and understand what’s in their hearts. He ends up having to defend the people in a battle that should never have taken place. He meets many friends and enemies, but as far as his countrymen are concerned, some of his friends come from the enemy, while some enemies are supposed to be allies…

Among those he meets are:

The King of Jerusalem - rarely seen in public, he wants peace but may not be able to keep his throne much longer; his sister, wife of a nobleman who is anything but noble; an enemy who will come to save his life at least once; men who will come to trust him with their lives, and men who seek to take his life. All the usual suspects plus a few more, in fact. A lot of the characters were rather interesting, but the film seemed to have a strange habit of killing the interesting ones off just before they started to get really interesting.

Orlando Bloom gives a pretty good performance in the lead role, but he is no match for Russell Crowe in Scott’s earlier Gladiator, neither is his character as well written. It’s not that either Bloom’s acting or the script is particularly bad, it just lacks the strength to carry a film of such epic proportions. It is quite an ambitious movie, with plenty of impressive battle sequences and a script clever enough, at least in places, to tackle the thorny subject of war between different religious faiths. The trouble is, Balian was a difficult character to really connect with (you could sympathise with his early life problems, though the reasons for these were never explored, but somehow his character never really came across with much intensity), and few of the other characters were really likable at all. There were lots of things happening that I felt I was supposed to care about, but in truth I didn’t. The cast was generally pretty good, with Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, and Jeremy Irons giving solid performances, but no-one stood out as excellent. I’m afraid thought that it seemed to me that Eva Green’s character as the love interest was an afterthought, and her performance didn’t exactly help matters.

Comparisons with Gladiator are I suppose inevitable, despite the vast difference in timeframe and storyline within them. It seemed to me almost as though Scott was deliberately trying to avoid such comparisons, but in doing so he seemed to have left out many of the things that made Gladiator so good from this film. There were very few characters who really engaged the viewer’s imagination, and the main characters in the movie just didn’t have the charisma or depth to make me really care what was going to happen to them.

Overall I didn’t actually dislike Kingdom of Heaven, and there were flashes of brilliance here and there. Overall though it seemed a bit mundane and pretty uninvolving, so I doubt if I’d watch it again. Ridley Scott was the genius behind two of my all-time favourite films, Bladerunner and the aforementioned Gladiator, but Kingdom of Heaven isn’t even on the same continent. Committed Orlando Bloom fans will probably enjoy this film more than anyone else.

Other Details

Year of release: 2005
Runtime: 145 minutes (the Director’s Cut is a whopping 194 minutes)

Not sure but there may be different versions for different counties, because the version I saw was approximately 138 minutes long.

Rating: 15 (UK) R (USA) for strong violence and epic warfare.

Related Links

Brendan Gleeson: Troy, Cold MountainHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireArtificial Intelligence

Orlando Bloom: Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring , Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Elizabethtown

See also: Top Ten Movies of 2005

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