KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons
Directed by Ridley Scott
Friday, May 6
After watching Kingdom of Heaven, I must say I am quite concerned about the direction Orlando Blooms career is heading. It seems he has become typecast, playing swordsmen in a throng of recent period pieces.
First, he was a pointy-eared elf in The Lord of the Rings, then he wore a puffy shirt in Pirates of the Caribbean, and later he sported a toga in Troy. Is it lack of creativity from casting agents? Arent we due for a romantic comedy or cagey thriller starring the young actor? Maybe Bloom just enjoys wearing chain mail?
Confession time I find history boring. I am a woman and supposedly women find Bloom attractive. This is a grave oversight on Hollywoods part and it might be nice to see the guy wearing jeans and a T-shirt once in awhile, in movies where he woos rather than wounds.
In Kingdom of Heaven, Bloom plays Balian of Ibelin, a blacksmith-turned-crusader who is devastated by his wifes suicide. Balian goes medieval on a priest who has condemned her to hell, and later questions Gods plan when he is summoned by his estranged father, Godfrey (Liam Neeson), a celebrated war hero, who urges his son to join the crusade.
Godfrey is fatally wounded in battle, but before dying a laboured death, he makes his son swear to protect Jerusalem, its people and Baldwin (Edward Norton), the leper king who dreams of creating a utopia where Christians, Muslims and Jews can coexist peacefully.
If you thought the crusades took forever, try sitting through this movie. But if youre the kind of person who likes renaissance fairs or can quote The Life of Brian, youll probably really enjoy Kingdom of Heaven. People do all sorts of things in the name of God, such as kill, steal, ambush, cheat, lie, impale, torture, strategize and seek vengeance typical 12th century gangsta stuff but as the movie drags through Balians life story, director Ridley Scott gets wrapped up in the details instead of moving the plot along. The battle scenes are tedious and the characters do little to engage the audience.
A masked Norton plays the leper king to the bone, doing his best Marlon Brando imitation. Jeremy Irons sleeps through his role as Tiberias, the kings councilman, and Bloom is surprisingly uncharismatic. The rest of the cast is either killed or lost in the scenery.
To be fair, the movie is historically accurate with two exceptions the total fabrication of Godfrey and the time of King Baldwins death (which occurred the year before the films story takes place) but to paraphrase William S. Burroughs, the past is fiction.
I know Scott is trying to recapture the glory days of Gladiator, and at the same time show the glaring parallels between the crusades and the current political climate, but by now everybody knows that there is nothing holy about war. We also know that actors with accents get stuck doing historical epics, and those who dont learn from past movie roles are doomed to repeat them.