Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There are some movies that I would never consider getting in a million years. Kingdom of Heaven is one such movie. However, my mother rented it one night figuring that I might like it. I figured that at the very least, I’d get a review out of it, so here it is.

The movie starts out with Orlando Bloom as Balian. He’s a blacksmith in a town that doesn’t really seem to care much for him, but he makes a living. At the very beginning of the movie, we see his wife being buried after committing suicide after the death of their child. As she’s being buried, a group of warriors is coming into town. Balian’s father, Godfrey of Ibelin, is the leader of this group. (Godfrey is played by Liam Neeson.)

Godfrey tells Balian who he is and offers him the opportunity to come to Jerusalem. Balian initially refuses, but reconsiders after killing the local priest. He figures that Jerusalem is a holy city (actually, the holy city) and would make a great place for a new start. Unfortunately, he inherits a whole new bunch of problems.

Balian is actually put in charge of the city’s defense when it comes under attack from a Muslim army, which vastly outnumbers his troops. To boot, what forces Balian does have has very little training and Balian has pretty much no command experience. Still, he manages to do pretty well. I won’t say how well for fear of spoiling the movie for you.

The only real problem that I had with this movie is that it was hard to form any attachment to it. There weren’t really any characters that I loved or hated. Sure, I liked many of the characters. But Balian wasn’t a great character. He was just someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. (Or is that the right place at the wrong time?)

Then, you’ve got the leader of the Muslim army, Saladin. Yeah, he’s supposed to be the antagonist, but I can’t really bring myself to call him the bad guy. He does have legitimate reasons for being upset.

There also weren’t any major events. Most movies have some sort of suspenseful battle or major turning points. This was just a series of choices and/or random events that let to Balian’s being put into power. All Balian wanted was a new life. Lily Tomlin was once quoted as saying, “When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have
been more specific.” That’s the story of Balian’s journey through the movie.

Mostly for that reason, I have to give the movie three stars. The movie starts off pretty good, but doesn’t really go anywhere, specifically. It’s a nice movie if it comes on TV, but I wouldn’t bother to pay money to rent it.

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