Hey folks, Harry here with a film I'm dying to see next year... Ridley Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!!! Ridley's return to the super-epic - with a fantastic cast. From folks on the inside, I can tell you the word on this film has been spectacular. That this review, with SPOILERS btw, gives the movie an 8.5 at it's full on 3 hour + cut... and mentions a couple of dragging moments that will either be excised or given proper speed by getting the final score in place. This is definitely one of the ones to watch for in 2005! Here ya go...
Me and the gal pal were going to the movies to see Blade Trinity when I noticed that a line was forming off to the side and everyone was holding yellow slips of paper. Being the curious fellow I am, I approached one of the numerous suits walking around handing out the papers and he told me they were having a Test Screen for a new movie that was UNTITLED, developed by a major production studio and slated for Summer 2005 release. He asked if we were interested in participating... duh.
We got in line and speculation was screaming around us, everything fro STAR WARS to CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. After about 30 minutes of waiting, were were allowed to enter the theater when they announced they wouldn't allow anyone in that had picture phones... I was getting excited!
Just before the film, a suit gets up and says that the movie we were about to see just finished being edited and has some technical flaws (never mind those) and that we were the first people to ever see the cut.
After the film I did some research on the net at imdb.com and found the movie "KINGDOM OF HEAVEN". The movie was 3 hours and had tons of gory action, intense drama and a romance story for good measure. The action was great and the acting was superb. I know that they will not keep the 3 hour running time because the movie had a few times where it really dragged along.
The movie is very, Braveheart / ROTK / Gladiator / very epic!!! Anyways here's the story.
The movie starts and there are about 3 title cards talking about the crusades in the 12th century. The film opens on a mountain side road in 12th century France. There is a dishonorable funeral for a woman who has committed suicide, when Godfrey of Ibelin played by LIAM NEESON rides by with a few fellow crusaders. They make their way into a small village and find out that the woman was wife to the local blacksmith, Balian played by ORLANDO BLOOM. Liam tells Orlando that he had been with his mother and that Orlando was his son, he has come to ask for forgiveness and to offer Orlando to join his Crusade in Jerusalem. Balian declines the offer. Liam offers the invitation again saying he will be in Jerusalem.
Anyways...the story pretty much goes as follows:
The local priest wants Balian to leave cause his wife committed suicide (saying she will be in Hell for eternity for her sins), Balian kills the priest and catches up to Godfrey on the way and asks if it is true that he can relieve his and his dead wife's sins so that she may be in Heaven by going to Jerusalem. The authorities catch up and want to arrest Balian, the crusaders defend him and Godfrey is mortally wounded in the battle. Godfey knights Balian and now Balian is a lord with a seat in Jerusalem. Balian arrives in Jerusalem after a ship wreck that only he and his horse survive.
The King of Jerusalem is stricken with leprosy and is forced to wear an Iron Mask. I believe ED NORTON plays King Baldwin IV. His personal aide is Tiberias, played by Jeremy Irons. The king is losing power to his sisters fiance (by arrangement), Guy de Lusignan played by Marton Csokas. This "Guy" is very ruthless and blood-thirsty and controls the 200,000 troops in Jerusalem. The Kings policy is that Jerusalem should be open to all faiths. However Lusignan has other plans such as killing all the Muslims he can find. The kings sister, Sybilla played by Eva Green (who is smoking hot!!) falls in love with the very pleasant and now righteous Balian.
Saladin, the leader of the Muslim people, is upset at the killing of the Muslims and sets out to recapture the city. Meanwhile the king wishes Balian to kill Lusignan, marry Sybilla and gain control of the army and continue Jerusalem's open faith practices. Balian deciles because he will not commit such and evil act. Sybilla asks him "Would not one evil be worth a million good?" and is upset.
The King dies from his disease, and Sybilla's 7 year old son becomes king of Jerusalem. She was married before and her husband supposedly had died in battle. The Kid King comes down with leprosy and Sybilla poisons him to ease his suffering.
Lusignan claims the throne and sets out to destroy the Muslims who are now advancing on the city of Jerusalem. Balian advises against it saying the desert will kill the crusaders because of the lack of water. Lusignan scoffs at the idea blinded by his own power. Leaving the city defenseless Lusignan sets out across the desert only to have the entire army defeated by the superior tactics of Saladin.
Jerusalem is left unprotected full of "normal people" with Balian now in control. Now Saladin's army arrives outside Jerusalem and what follows is a siege battle that is up there with the battle fro LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING. This battle is about 40 minutes long and freaking rocks! Eventually Jerusalem falls and Saladin is impressed with Balians honorable tactics and offers Balian to surrender the city and all inside will be given safe passage to Christian lands. Balian surrenders Jerusalem.
The movie ends with Balian and Sybilla living a less than royal life in a remote village in France. Balian has resumed the role of blacksmith when one day some Crusaders come asking for the Great Balian. Balian says he doesn't know him. One of the crusaders wearing a crown says he is the King of England and they are going to recapture Jerusalem. Balian stays and the Crusaders ride away.
Good movie I give it 8.5/10. I like the epics.
I am Vertigo