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Kingdom of Heaven

Reviewed By Abhishek Bandekar
Posted 05/06/05 23:24:46

"'Rise A Knight.....Fall An Epic'"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Epics are rapidly becoming akin to bestsellers. Hollywood has gotten itself into a habit of churning epics as an effortless means to mint money at the box-office where nearly everyone of the multiplex multitude intends to dawdle anyways! Who gives a flying-f**k about quality? This is brainless entertainment at its best worst!

Circa 1184, Jerusalem is a land torn apart between the Christian crusaders and the Muslims. However, peace has somehow prevailed due to the sanity of the reigning King Baldwin(played by a highly talented actor under a mask!) and the Muslim leader, Saladin(Ghassan Masoud). But the king, a leper, is dying faster than you can say Hannibal Lecter(you’ll get the joke when you watch the movie!). And his throne is likely to be thrown in the hands of a fanatic Templar Knight(Da Vinci Code fans might be familiar with this. See, the movie even has a bestseller connection!), Guy De Lusignan(Marton Scokas), who happens to be the husband of Sibylla(Eva Green)- the king’s sister. In what couldn’t have been a worse time, our hero Balian(Orlando Bloom) enters Jerusalem seeking forgiveness for a murder and the suicide of his deceased wife. Balian, by the way, has recently learnt that he is the son of a certain Knight Godfrey(Liam Neeson in a terrific cameo)- Baron of Ibelin. The declaration is made in a rather puerile manner but serves its purpose as Balian is soon on his way to keep his father’s dying command to obey the king. In what is a simple math, Balian and Sibylla fall in love, merely because they have to. In spite of the king’s consent to the relationship, Balian inexplicably rejects the proposal(because his conscience wouldn’t allow him? Whatever!). Jerusalem is now in the hands of the evil De Lusignan and henchman-like Reynald(Brendan Gleeson) who can’t wait to wage a war. Despite Balian’s forewarning, De Lusignan enters in a war, grossly outnumbered. De Lusignan suffers a humiliating defeat and the fate of Jerusalem is now left to the blacksmith-turned-knight Balian.

The age of the Crusades is one of the most interesting chapters of human history, if only for its ambiguity. To see it simplified in the manner in which director Ridley Scott and writer William Monahan have is blasphemous! For an ignorant viewer looking to the film as a history guide, it might seem that the whole issue was just the result of a few villainy Christians. The ruthless massacre of Muslims is conveniently avoided, and all of this is done without making the Muslims look bad either! Talk about diplomacy! All that we are left with is an action movie; no insights in this one people! And even the action is not that great. Compared to the ‘Gladiator’(Scott’s previous epic outing), the scale is huge but the execution isn’t. Chaos is not action!

It is difficult to choose which one of the lead actors is more pulchritudinous! Orlando Bloom’s popularity is an enigma to me. If women really consider his effeminate looks to be synonymous with good acting, they are demeaning their own intelligence. Eva Green, apart from resembling one of my close friends, is one of the most unconventional beauties to grace the silver-screen. Now, she could’ve sailed a thousand ships! Marton Csokas and the usually reliable Brendan Gleeson overplay to the hilt, while Liam Neeson underplays to perfection. Also, the talented actor under a mask is enthralling for his Brandoesque presence and Alexander Siddig as Nasir is someone I’ll be watching out for.

What I won’t be watching out for are any more epics! All the recent epics have left a bad taste. Whatever happened Ridley? After the debacles of ‘Troy’ and ‘Alexander’, you –the man who brought epics back in fashion- were our only hope!

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