Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

I'm getting a bit caught up with my reviews, as the weekend was spent cleaning, exercising, catching up with friends, and (a little) relaxing.

I had only mediocre hopes for this movie. It was a movie that was capitalizing on Orlando Bloom's success after Lord of the Rings and on the trend for epic movies. I mentioned in an earlier post that it was released around the same time as two other 'epic' movies: King Arthur and Alexander, if my memory can be trusted. I didn't much care for King Arthur and don't really have any desire to see Alexander. It looks as though Kingdom of Heaven is about as satisfying as the other two.

The viewer isn't given much of a chance to get to know Orlando's character. We know that his wife committed suicide and he is very sad and grieves for her. Then he kills a priest for saying bad things about her. I guess to give us an idea of the intensity of his mourning. Then his long lost father comes into town and they go off together. His father doesn't really know him, we don't really know him, but they all are big name actors, so they much be the good guys, right? I think they were stretching it a bit personally.

So, none of the characters really get a satisfying back story in my opinion. I would have liked to have seen more development of even a few of the main players. And how about we get to know a bit more about the Saracens while we're at it. That would also let us hear and see more of the fabulous Alexander Siddig who doesn't really get a lot of screen time.

The second main objection I had also centers around the character of Orlando Bloom. When we are introduced to him, in what seems to be a small village, he is the blacksmith. We can see he immediately stands out, since he can apparently read. But, his talents do not end there. After one sword lesson by some of his father's men at arms, he becomes an expert and defeats a Saracen shortly after he arrives in the middle east. (This is an even more amazing feat considering the fact that he was the only human survivor when his ship crashes on the shore. A beautiful black horse also survives completely unscathed from the ordeal as well.) Then, he takes quite quickly to his lordship as his father is ill and dies a short time after. He is given his father's estate in Jerusalem and makes an instant bond with it and with it's people. He is also the first person to think of digging a well in the dessert. (A skill I must assume he learned in his rainy province of France, and something no one in a dessert could ever imagine to do.) When the battles begin for Jerusalem, he is revealed as a genius of military tactics and he is given absolute devotion by all the men fighting with him. The only trace of a lesson we get through the whole movie is when he arrives to meet one of the royals and momentarily touches a model of a seige tower. I guess learning by osmosis really works. Either that, or learning to be a blacksmith encompasses many more skills than I had realized before.

There were a few nice things about the movie. If you like some epic battle scenes, this movie has some for you. Also, great scenery! The costumes and sets were all marvelous and really helped the movie feel as though you were there. There were a few really good actors, but as I mentioned they didn't really get much of a character to develop.


Kim said...

Good, you did recognize him! How long did it take you?

Jenn said...

I recognized him in what I think was his first un-helmetted scene. He was in a tent with the Saracen leader and they just panned past him. I was like, "hey it's Dr. Bashir!" His accent was fabulous though!