Directed by: Ridley Scott
Premise: Orlando Bloom plays a Christian knight charged with protecting Jerusalem from Muslim invaders during the Crusades.
What Works: This is a very topical film, full of ideas about religion and war. The film is not anti-Christian or anti-Muslim but shows how the hierarchy of religion, mixed with government, may be used to perpetuate and justify war. Ridley Scott uses many of the same cinematic techniques he employed in Gladiator but in comparison to the sword and sandal films in the past year, Kingdom of Heaven shows a lot more craft in its structure, editing, and cinematography. There is a wonderful performance by Ghassan Massoud as Saladin. In a small amount of screen time he brings a dignity and and a complexity to the role that flies in the face of most portrayals of Middle Eastern characters.
What Doesn’t: Kingdom of Heaven‘s character development is rather thin, especially in the supporting cast. The film may be confusing to those who are not familiar with the history and politics of the Crusades, although the drama within the film is laid out well enough.
Bottom Line: While it is not as good as Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven is above average as an action film and as an epic. The action sequences are satisfying and the romance is there, but the film goes beyond the conventions of its genre with its intellectual ideas.
Episode: #51 (May 8, 2005)