Past Entertainment Articles.
Article for the week of 5/15/05
Really Pathetic Movie Review
Kingdom of Heaven
By, Eric Allen.
Thanks to the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando
Bloom has established himself as THE heart-throb to use when long pointy
pieces of metal are to be thrust through the bellies of the enemy (all
except Troy, where he plays the heat-throb wuss). This record makes him
the logical choice for the lead in Ridley Scott’s newest epic, Kingdom
Now, I like the Middle Ages, it’s a time period that I find immensely
interesting, so when I found out that a Medieval movie was being made,
I jumped for joy. I did have some reservations when I found out that Mr.
Scott was in charge. Ridley Scott is a master of epics, I’ll give him
that, but he does not have a good track record for historical accuracy.
Braveheart, though a good movie in its own right, was not accurate in
the least (how can you have the Battle of Sterling Bridge without a bridge?).
Gladiator was undoubtedly entertaining, but was not historically accurate,
and the fight scenes were more stylistic and flashy than realistic. With
this in mind, my excitement began to wane, but I went and saw it hoping
for the best.
I was not disappointed. Kingdom of Heaven is a very entertaining movie.
The scope is epic, to be sure, and the special effects are impressive.
But for those of you who have been under a rock the past year, I’ll give
you a quick synopsis: Balian of Iblein (Orlando Bloom) is going about
his business when Godfrey (Liam Neeson) shows up and claims Balian as
his son, and invites him on a Crusade. Balian then travels to Jerusalem,
and accompanied by David Thewlis as a Hospitalar, he engages in political
intrigue with the gracious King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem (Edward Norton),
the bloodthirsty Reynald (Brendon Gleeson), the conniving Guy de Lusigan
(Marton Csokas), the faithful Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), and the sexy Princess
Sibylla (Eva Green). Jerusalem is at peace with the Saracens led by Saladin
(Ghassan Massoud), and the King is trying to keep that peace, while others
push for war. Religious fervor creates fanatics on both sides, and when
the camel-paddies hit the fan, Balian finds himself in charge defending
the city of Jerusalem from an enormous Islamic army.
Ironically, even though Bloom and Green are arguably the main characters,
they are rather flat, and don’t elect much emotion from the audience.
Irons, Csokas, Gleeson, and Thewlis, however, put in amazing performances.
Ghassan Massoud is simply awesome as Saladin, plain and simply awesome.
The movie has a message—one of religious tolerance and the avoidance of
radicalism. Some people may think it’s a bit too pacifistic and kind,
but I think it is a message worth learning. The Moslems are not painted
as the “evil bad guys,” which is a very good thing, and the real villains
of the story are not who you might expect at first.
Is it historically accurate? Nope. The timeframe is generally correct,
thought he events have been compressed. Bloom’s character is drastically
different from the historical Balian of Iblein (the real Balian was not
a commoner, and never set foot in France). The love story is entirely
fantasy (Sibylla loved Guy, and Balian was happily married). The fighting
is, ehm, OK. Ridley Scott dips a bit too much into the inaccurate Gladiator-style
fighting, though this was probably a stylistic decision, as a real swordfight
wouldn’t be very flashy. Still, a knight would NEVER throw his shield
away when charging into a battle he KNOWS is going to take place in a
very confined area, and Godfrey’s advice of never using a “low guard”
All in all, I really enjoyed the movie, and the historical inaccuracies
can be overlooked (especially if you remember that this is Hollywood).
If you haven’t seen it already, go. Now. See it now. Then, read about
what really happened at that point in history, and go see it again.