Monday, May 9, 2005

Film Review: Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven (15)

Caught this last night. I couldn't be arsed to watch this but I was literally dragged. I won't go into details on how I was persuaded to watch the film.

Visually Kingdom of Heaven is very exciting. The photography is excellent. Some film pundits has even described the visuals as 'very realistic'.

Well I do not know how they define realism but if they are meaning the costumes, weather, location, battle styles etc are all very 12th century, then maybe they ought to sought a new career in marketing their time machines.

Before I continue, I should mention that I recently learnt that the depiction of the crusade, the subject of the film, is of typical 18th century romanticisation by European artists.

The movie rated '15' by the BBFC is a knight's tale of a young blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) from medieval France who joins his father, a crusader fighting to win back the Holy Land. I am no theologist or historian so I won't comment about the historical accuracy (or lack of) of this film.

I do have to sound a word of caution. This is a Hollywood film after all and Hollywood films are not meant to replace your history books. And it also happens to be a Ridley Scott movie! I mean just check out the historical inaccuracies he made in some of his films (Gladiator).

Excuse me ladies as I am going to give Orlando Bloom a little bit of flack here. I don't doubt his acting skills here but I think he was totally miscasted as Balian. First his youthful look does make him a little wimpy looking. His sword skill (seeing that he was just a blacksmith) is also suspect. Agreeing with Nicholas Barber sentiment voiced in The Independent on Sunday; Bloom, with his flowing messy hair, does look like a British student backpacker touring East Asia.
Casting someone like that bloke from Gladiator or even Brad Pitt (Troy) would be so much more plausible.

Okay, I have to admit something. I didn't want to watch the film because the topic of Christians Vs Muslims does not interest me one bit especially one that happened hundreds of years ago. It is enough that we have to deal with Dubya's crusade against the whole wide world.

That is until I arrived at the cinema, took a look at the poster and saw a woman there who looks darn familiar and cussed. Fuck me. That's Eva Green!

Eva Green. Eva...

Last time I saw her was in her debut feature film (Bernando Bertolucci's The Dreamers). Now she was amazing in the movie (with and without clothes). (By the way, Eva Green's opposite in The Dreamers, Michael Pitt will be playing Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in Last Days, released in the next few months.)

Stuff this! I 'bought' my ticket...

Okay she was badly miscasted for the film. Very wooden and didn't have much to do.

Ghassan Massoud, the Syrian (?) actor assigned as the great Saladin was superb. What a great find by casting.

Edward Norton, now that is one great actor. A man who can almost do nothing wrong in his Hollywood resume was superb in his role as King Baldwin IV. Jeremy Irons on the other hand, another great actor was outrageously silly in his role.

Enough about acting. What about the battle scenes? The reason why many of us went to watch Troy, Gladiator or Braveheart (all historical inaccurate movies) was for the battles. I thought it was okay. The siege scene in particular received the similar Hollywood CGI treatment where thousands of pixelated mini warriors battle it out. It couldn't match the siege of Minas Tirith on The Lord of the Rings or even the skirt wearing soldiers in Troy though.

In the end as a film it was a disappointment. It did interest (slightly) me a little in the (then) crusade and I might hit the local council library to research on the subject if time permits me. On the other hand the (current) crusade is of more distressing need of peace negotiation. George W. Bush (what a fucking twat) does need a kick in his arse and be told that (religious or non) crusades kills people.



Kat said...

I was planning to watch this yesterday when I got distracted. I don't expect it to be mind-blowing but I'll still watch it just for the sake of watching it. Heh. Besides, Edward Norton is in it. :)

Jon Choo said...

You will be dissapointed to hear that Edward Norton's face will not be making an appearance. Great acting though.

Anonymous said...

Great review on Kingdom of Heaven. I also just watched it last weekend. I also agreed with you that Eva Green looks totally beautiful..and Bloom look totally like wastefull...
(ps: The comment about SEA Backpackers is very funny)

Overall ..after watching the movie..i have to say that it depressed me a lot...completely down..

Jon Choo said...

Ah, cheers for the wonderful comment anonymous.

Anonymous said...

i kinda just watched it yesterday..yeah bloom shouldnt be acting as balian...pitt would be a better choice if compared to bloom..but overall, it was ok...not too bad (not counting bloom)..