Friday, May 06, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven (Director: Ridley Scott)

Scott is one of those guys who's made a lot of films in which most people have heard. He's been a busy man this decade, beginning with Gladiator, going on to the Silence of the Lambs sequel Hannibal, then Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men, that's not to mention the TV show "Numbers" that he executive produces with his brother Tony. Other big hits include Alien (my favorite of his), Blade Runner (a movie I never got into, personally), Legend, Someone to Watch Over Me, and Thelma & Louise. Some people might site Black Rain as a favorite, I've never seen it. The 90's weren't all that kind to him after T & L, where he had some notable misfires in 1492: Conquest of Paradise, White Squall, and G.I. Jane. There are a couple of others even after all that, but those are the most recognizable.

I've never been a huge fan of Ridley Scott. He's been more miss than hit with me. As you can see, he does all kinds of pictures, dominated by blood-letting and/or strong female characters. One thing you get out of him, though, as opposed to Joel Schumacher, is a professional look, a sense that he at least cares about what he's doing. I say if the script is strong, he probably hits it out of the park.

Kingdom of Heaven covers The Crusades, Christianity's violent go-to blemish. Balian (Orlando Bloom) is a recently-knighted figure and follows in the footsteps of his father Godfrey (Liam Neeson). Due to a series of conflicts and decisions, Balian has to protect Jerusalem from the Muslims--a people in which certain factions (including himself) of Jerusalem want to live in harmony, but several zealots led by Guy de Lusignan (Martin Csokas) and Reynald (Brendan Gleeson) want Christians to be the only faith represented in the holy city, or Kingdom of Heaven.

The movie is a nice war flick, an entertaining action piece with an unsappy love story and crucial plot involving believable characters and difficult decisions. I found the movie very engaging, and at over 2 hours and 15 minutes, moved much faster than this week's competition, House of Wax, which is 30 minutes shorter. Orlando Bloom is once again in an epic piece, his 6th, and I'm still waiting for Elizabethtown to show me what he really brings as an actor--I think he's good in this, but no better than he really has to be--he's certainly better due to his character being stronger than wussy Paris from Troy. Eva Green from The Dreamers plays love-interest Sibylla, and she's nicely feisty and loveable. I also liked Ghassan Massoud, who plays Muslim leader Saladin--he's the only three-dimensional villain in the movie, and he's so good it's hard to call him a villain.

This is a refreshing change from the depths of Hell that were Alexander and the OK Troy. It's not heavily original or anything, but the action is that kind that I like--one space, two groups want it, and they fight. It's like a whole movie harkening The Two Towers' Helm's Deep sequence. A nice summer kick-off.


At 5/06/2005 10:18:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I have not seen the movie yet, and probably won't be seeing it till sometime next week; my review will be forthcoming. But I was curious about something; I heard Ridley Scott had to cut an hour of footage that he really wanted to keep in. I was just curious if you felt like the film could have actually used another hour of storytelling. I personally think that most movies over three hours rarely need to be that long, but I was just curious.

Also, and I think we've discussed Ridley Scott films before, but I too think he's more miss than hit. In fact, going through his list of movies, the only two that I think are great are "Alien" and "Matchstick Men." "Thelma and Louise" and "G.I. Jane" were pretty good movies that just don't hold up on multiple viewings. But as for everything else, I just didn't care for them very much. And "EW" just did a list of his movies and how much money they have made. The only two that even broke $100 million were "Hannibal" and "Gladiator." So, one could wonder why the hell he gets to keep making all of these big budget epics? But I guess if filmmakers were only given jobs based on there box office, we wouldn't have Martin Scorcese films, not to metion a few other great filmmakers.

At 5/07/2005 08:43:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

What seemed cut out to me, mostly, was the love story. You can even see it in the trailer, there's a lot of scenes specifically dealing with that aspect that were obviously cut. However, it's not a big loss--unless, of course, there was some nudity excised. That would be a crime.


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