Tuesday, October 25, 2005

eyeCandy: Kingdom of Heaven (4/5)

Kingdom of Heaven is the latest of Gladiator director Ridley Scott's movies (and there are many more than that! :-) ). Clocking in at almost two and a half hours, it does drag in places, but all in all I found it quite enjoyable for several reasons.

The movie tells the story of Balian (Orlando Bloom), who joins his father (Liam Neeson) to journey from Europe to Jerusalem during the 12th century crusades. Scott deserves some credit for showing the range of manifestations of religious belief on both the Christian and Muslim sides (not all bad, but not all good), and there are some very admirable and very despicable characters that develop (and lots of epic battles too ;-) ). My biggest disappointment was at a pivotal instance (which I won't elaborate upon, but which is not historically accurate either) where one of the noble characters refuses to do some mild "evil" which would result in great good, and instead paves the way for great "evil" to occur - I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about when you see the movie. Anyway, that black and white thinking always gets to me ;-) .

However, as can be seen through a couple of good special features (especially History vs. Hollywood and A&E Movie Real on Disc 2), Kingdom of Heaven actually contains a good deal of historical accuracy. Above and beyond using period costumes and weapons (which should be a given for any period piece), many of the characters are real (though with some dramatic license used) and many events are actual historical events (which, in some instances, have been rearranged or altered slightly). In fact, the general arc of the story is remarkably accurate considering how easily it might be dismissed as simple creative storytelling. I really value this in a movie and it probably was one element that pushed my rating to 4/5. Really, the reason I enjoy period pieces so much is how they have the potential to educate you as to what it was like to live in such a time and what types of events occurred (HBO's Rome is great for this too). In addition to this, I love witnessing the strategy employed in these large combat and diplomatic situations (another great aspect of HBO's Rome) and, aside from the typical Hollywood overuse of fire when there just shouldn't be that much fire, this film delivers on that account too.

Probably not for everyone (though it will certainly appeal to anyone with D&D sensibilities ;-) ), but certainly a worthwhile addition to the recent spate of medieval/ancient dramas.

PS: The music in it was pretty good too. I'm a real lover of ancient and medieval music and, although they certainly weren't spending a lot of time worrying about authentic period music, they at least have avoided overusing modern orchestral settings/styles and have incorporated some elements of the ethnic music in the area.
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10/25/2005 11:16:00 PM  

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