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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.45%
Worth A Look: 15.31%
Average: 25.51%
Pretty Bad31.63%
Total Crap: 5.1%

6 reviews, 62 user ratings

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Kingdom of Heaven
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by EricDSnider

"A movie about Christians killing Muslims ought to be more interesting."
3 stars

In real life, the Crusades involved Christians killing Muslims and taking over their land. (I am simplifying.) That such methodology was misguided and not at all what Christ taught is not in question. The Crusades are one of those embarrassing moments that all religions, political parties and families have somewhere in their past.

To make a movie about the Crusades, then, is a fool's errand. If you tell it like it was, you'll be accused of fueling anti-Muslim sentiment. If you tell it like it was but from the Muslim victims' point of view, people will say you're anti-Christian for dragging the skeletons out of the Catholic church's historical closet. And if you whitewash the Crusades, make the Muslim-slaying the actions of a few evil Christians and make your film's hero an enlightened, politically correct man who advocates peace between the sects, then you'll be guilty of making "Kingdom of Heaven."

Beginning in "Braveheart" territory and eventually wandering into some "Lord of the Rings" outtakes, "Kingdom of Heaven" is a 12th-century epic that is long and wide but not very deep. Our hero is Balian (Orlando Bloom, once again wearing a tunic and slinging arrows), a small-town blacksmith whose wife and child have recently died, leaving him with nothing but heartache. His wife committed suicide, too, which means, according to current religious dogma, that she is in hell. ("How can you be in hell when you're in my heart?" he says to his dead wife, apparently competing with Anakin Skywalker for the 2005 Worst Dialogue Award.)

Along comes Godfrey (Liam Neeson), Balian's long-lost father and an ardent Crusader. He persuades Balian to join him in his journey to Jerusalem, a city said to have powers of forgiveness and redemption for sinners. After being taunted into committing murder in his village and thus becoming a fugitive anyway, Balian agrees to the trek.

Jerusalem, it turns out, is governed by a weird, leprous king who wears a silver mask over his deformed visage and who utters profound things when he is not busy dying. (William Monahan's screenplay is full of people making profound speeches about profound things.) The king's sister Sibylla (Eva Green), Balian's obligatory love interest, becomes queen after her brother's death -- a bad sign for the city's future, given that her husband (Martin Csokas) is a highly zealous Crusader (i.e., Muslim-stabber) who wants a war.

It ultimately befalls Balian to defend the city against the advancing Muslim hordes. But first he delivers a highly P.C. speech about how neither group has a true claim on the city, and can't we all be brothers, and that sort of thing. Balian, it must be said, is awfully enlightened for the Dark Ages.

And that is the film's major problem: It can't decide whose side it's on. It can't advocate the wholesale slaughter of Muslims, obviously, but that's what Christians were DOING in 1184. And so it rides the fence for two hours, giving us a few thrilling battles (director Ridley Scott, of "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down," knows how to slap those together) before finally collapsing into a grandly disappointing climax.

The warriors can't be heroes because it wouldn't be proper to make a movie in which people who wantonly kill Muslims are heroes. You could have them do it grudgingly and against their will, I suppose, but people who are pushed around by their leaders don't make good heroes, either. Or you could have them rise up and refuse to kill the Muslims, but then you've forsaken historical accuracy. Long story short, DON'T MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT THE CRUSADES. If we learn nothing else from history, let us learn that.

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originally posted: 05/06/05 17:13:42
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User Comments

6/24/19 Edler Stunning visual masterpiece (like David Lean) but story is dull and unbelievable 3 stars
1/01/14 Marty The first movie that ever put me to sleep. Story slow and detached. 1 stars
12/08/10 Aaron S Great film. So few about the Crusades. 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
4/09/08 action movie fan battles too short, story confusing-a failure 2 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White grand crusade film 5 stars
2/12/08 John S Sheer brilliance 5 stars
11/30/07 R.W.Welch Madness & mayhem in the Middle East (what's new?). Spectacular but excessive mumbling. 3 stars
11/07/07 MP Bartley Edit; the directors cut makes ALL the difference. Better than Gladiator. 5 stars
6/18/07 William Goss Director's cut showcases some of Scott's most spectacular filmmaking to date. 5 stars
1/11/07 MP Bartley Often spectacular, but more often patchy epic further let down by weak central performance. 3 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Wonderful film. Bloom's performance is quiet and quite good! 5 stars
9/14/06 Kathryn Excellent film, especially the Director's cut. Most underrated movie of the year 5 stars
7/31/06 Steve Marc the movie rocks 5 stars
5/23/06 t3h r0x0r Very accurate. Very good. Vague like Catholocism. 5 stars
4/28/06 jimmy A new prospective of the Crusaders 5 stars
3/09/06 Dk Even better than Gladiator and thats saying something 5 stars
1/29/06 WiseMan You have to understand the Crusades to like this one. Great Effects sound music. 5 stars
12/30/05 chris f a very good movie 5 stars
12/20/05 Indrid Cold Looks great, but somehow it manages to be a very uninteresting retread of Braveheart, etc. 3 stars
12/14/05 Ginger Vague story line, what was the point? 1 stars
12/11/05 chris matt im afrid your wrong gladiator is better but this film is good to 4 stars
12/09/05 matt better than Gladiator 5 stars
11/29/05 Urban II better than I expected, makes some good points 4 stars
10/23/05 Azar Poor characterisation, religously vague, hoping for a better director's cut 2 stars
10/15/05 Quigley jeremy irons was awsome, bloom was not; the battles were to envious of LOTR. gladiator? yes 2 stars
10/09/05 Daran Historically fallous, and a complete load of tosh, give up Ridley!!! 1 stars
10/07/05 anamika pretty bad 2 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes WAY better than "Troy" & "Alexander" 5 stars
9/19/05 Glennyce Paetzmann Well...I liked it better than gladiator... 4 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Why did Scott bother? This movie is pure retro, 1930's eyewash. 1 stars
9/08/05 Ric Lacks heart and spirit; hopefully, the director's cut will be a vast improvement. 2 stars
8/14/05 Kasia OSCAR FOR NORTON !!! 4 stars
6/18/05 aldo two different cultures fight...a hero we like...Same old story...but worth seeing 4 stars
6/13/05 Sacred Zealot The best - King Baldwin 5 stars
6/11/05 herkos akhaion Battle scenes very good, story so-so 4 stars
6/09/05 John beautifully shot and a good cast - entertaining 4 stars
6/01/05 Mansur I think this Film shows almost correct history of jerusalem. 4 stars
6/01/05 carly excellent 5 stars
5/27/05 The Mockingbird just for surprising me by not sucking as much as it could have bloom less sucky than usual 3 stars
5/24/05 Sebahattin ziyanak objective 5 stars
5/21/05 Kellie It's fun to watch and seems to make a point. Some of it's self-absorbed but worthwhile. 4 stars
5/18/05 Pippin007 Better than Troy,Alexander and King Arthur. Its Ok! Lord of the Rings is better 3 stars
5/18/05 jeff one of the best midevil movies yet!!! 5 stars
5/18/05 vagile Ridley Scott's best film. 5 stars
5/17/05 Neon Not worth my time 2 stars
5/15/05 Maalstrom fairly entertaining movie except for fairly ambiguous climax 3 stars
5/15/05 jcjs i liked it 5 stars
5/12/05 --- ridiculous PC history 2 stars
5/12/05 Kristin The Crusades here are so PC that the main characters are sapped of all motivation 2 stars
5/12/05 Ralph Not at all bad, just overshadowed by Lord of the Rings 4 stars
5/11/05 Tom Mangel Pretty Bad. I thought Alexander was the worst film I saw over the last six months however, 2 stars
5/11/05 John Shannon Not awful, but not awesome. A good open to the summer. 4 stars
5/11/05 mwildema would be a good rental, because you can turn it off.. 1 stars
5/10/05 Morrigan Not a classic, but not bad by any stretch of the imagination. 4 stars
5/10/05 KingNeutron Apparently, Saladin was an honorable - and incredibly generous - man. 4 stars
5/10/05 Naka Crap. Simpleminded, pretentious, overwrought crap. 2 stars
5/10/05 Gini I really enjoyed it. Expect something slower and more measured 4 stars
5/08/05 Dan Great movie, great message... don't know how you all found it boring. 5 stars
5/08/05 saturn plenty of bad lines and acting and boring as hell 2 stars
5/06/05 jack bad script - and fell asleep in the last 1/2 hr 2 stars
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  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 23-May-2006



Directed by
  Ridley Scott

Written by
  William Monahan

  Orlando Bloom
  Eva Green
  Jeremy Irons
  Brendan Gleeson
  Liam Neeson
  Edward Norton

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