(Review originally written at 4 November 2005)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Kingdom of Heaven" is a good looking but heavily flawed movie. I never expected too much from this movie but I was disappointed in the fact that it even failed in creating memorable and impressive battle sequences. From a movie like this and certainly from a director like Ridley Scott you may and should expect some good looking massive battle sequences. Yes, there were massive battle sequences in the movie but it was all way too short to make a lasting impression.

Main problem with the movie is the storytelling. The movie never really seems to find a right pace. Just when you think you're finally going to see some action the action is cut of already. Such as when Balian and friends rides off to stall some time. Just when the action has begun the movie cuts to the ending of the battle. Or when Guy de Lusignan and Reynald battle the Saracens in the desert. That battle isn't even shown! Not one second of it...Also during the siege of Jerusalam the movie cuts off multiple times just when the action takes pace and becomes interesting. It was an huge let down.

But of course there is more to a movie than just action, so how about the other elements of the movie? Well, the story itself is also too uninteresting. There isn't really a clear plot-line for most of the time and it is unclear were the movie is heading to, especially in the first halve of the movie. Not everything in the movie feels connected with each other, or really flows well. Many characters are introduced in the movie but almost none of them is ever really used. As a result we get to see a movie about some two-dimensional characters that we never really get to know or care about. Because of this the battle sequences also never got tense, why should we care if anyone of them dies? Also none of the characters seemed to be afraid to die and everyone seemed to be thrilled and glad that there was a war going on. The movie also tries hard to be political correct towards all parties involved. Many people find this disturbing and annoying but in this case I never really had any problems with it during the movie. I also had no problems with the historical inaccuracies. I look at this movie as entertainment not as a documentary.

Visually there is nothing wrong with the movie. The camera-work by John Mathieson is good and there are some impressive looking landscape's, sets and costumes. The battle sequences and mass scene's are good looking and the movie has some impressive special effects but it's too short all to make those moments memorable. The movie also shows that Ridley Scott is of course still a great director and almost every scene is a real beauty to look at. It really is the story and pace that kills this movie. It's not Scott's fault, he was given simply too much story material to work with, to make it all fit in a two and an halve hour movie. Because of this there are many moments in the movie that feel 'incomplete'.

Also the casting is quite weak. Strangely I'm not revering to Orlando Bloom. Lot's of people felt that he wasn't ready yet- or believable as the main 'hero'. I had no problems with him and I actually thought that he was pretty good as the main character. I had far more problems with the other typecasting of the movie. It was distracting to see Brendan Gleeson from "Braveheart", Marton Csokas from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and David Thewlis from "Dragonheart" in the movie. They are all actors who already played memorable parts in movies from the same genre. Liam Neeson was good as always but underused in this movie. The movie could had really used him as an actor and character at times. Simply fantastic was Jeremy Irons but also he had unfortunately a quite small role. It was almost like as if the best actors were given the smallest and least interesting roles of the movie. This also implies for Edward Norton who played King Baldwin.

Of course by no means an 'horrible' movie but it simply is too forgettable all, mainly due to the storytelling, to really recommend it to everyone.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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