Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Orlando Bloom
A young Blacksmith named Balian, grieves for his wife, who had just committed suicide. The town Priest comes to him to behead his dead wife since that is customary in this time period. Balian reuses, a scrum ensues and the Priest is killed. On the run now, Balian hears ledgends of a land called Jerusalem, where your sins can be washed away. He is thrown into a whirlwind adventure across the country and is soon trusted into a deadly conflict between warring Factions.
A friend of mine saw this movie last week. He is one of those guys that watch movies for “explosions, hot girls and action.” Needless to say, he liked this movie. Did not love it. He stated that “theirs too much talking and not enough action until the end!” He knows i appreciate a good, story-driven movie, so i went out and rented it. He was right that i would like it…
From the visual and technical standpoint, “Kingdom of Heaven” is drop dead gorgeous. The recreation of medieval France and the city of Jerusalem were (and still are) brilliant technical achievements. The French landscape recalls the region around medieval Clermont and Vézelay where Pope Urban and Bernard of Clairvaux delivered their historic calls to arms for the early Crusades. And in the recreation of Jerusalem, the film artists truly drew us into the twelfth-century walled city with sacred roots in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Much credit should go to cinematographer John Mathieson. The film’s events spanned the era between the Second and Third Crusades, and the work the crew did on this epic film was simply spectacular.
In the genre of the epic film, the leading actor is always crucial, as in the unforgettable performances of “Lawrence of Arabia” (Peter O’Toole), and “Bridge on the River Kwai” (Alec Guiness). One glaring weakness of “Kingdom of Heaven” is leading performer Orlando Bloom. Although this young actor has fine screen presence, his performance was subdued and rather boring. Bloom’s character does not even evolve much when upon arriving in Jerusalem, which is vital for a story following the Hero’s Journey. As Sibylla, Eva Green also seemed out of place in this film. Suffering the same fate as Bloom, an overall boring performance. Even though shes beautiful. Eva Green’s character seemed closer to a young woman from the twenty-first century, as opposed to the twelfth.
The other performances of this truly “stacked” cast were stronger, including those of Liam Neeson as Balian’s father, Jeremy Irons as Tiberias, and Edward Norton as the King. Those actors really resembled medieval knights. Norton’s characterization of the king victimized by leprosy and forced to wear a mask was one of the most sensitive character portraits ive seen. Norton’s characterization offers a glimpse into the softer side of the great medieval knights.
Overall i greatly enjoyed this film. I am a big fan of Medieval era stories with epic battles and compelling characters. Something about a sword fight makes the conflict so much more personal and poetic.
8/10 Orlando Bloom held it back from being one of my favorite films of this genre, but Liam Neeson was bad-ass enough to bring it closer.