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12-18-2013, 11:10 AM
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The first time I saw Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, it was in theatres in 2005, I was 21, and I thought it was a really excellent film, it covered the Crusades quite nicely and such.

The second time, it was the director's cut which I purchased off my memory of enjoying it the first time, it was 2013, and I was 29, and I found it incredibly boring. It does a few things well, for example it manages to treat another culture (Arabs) respectfully and in a non-racist manner, given that Scott is from Hollywood this is in and of itself a tremendous achievement. I also thought it elegantly approached the horror of leprosy, it had decent costume and set design, and battle scenes.

However, being older, the adrenaline rush from good action scenes is no longer enough to compensate for the failings in a story. A lot of the characters were poorly developed, and further, a lot of the actors look alike which makes the story confusing and difficult to follow. Given that many actors looked alike, and the excess of plot in such a movie, it became difficult to follow who was who and what they were doing and what their angle was, which made the movie a lot more boring. The movie actually starts with Balian as a random Blacksmith, he meets his father, goes to Jerusalem, Jerusalem's leadership falls, he takes over, he defends Jerusalem, surrenders on decent terms, returns to being a blacksmith. That is way too much plot. It's too ambitious... I could condone excess ambition if it had been implemented better.

When I got to the end of Disc 1, I had to force myself to watch Disc 2, and I may have done so the next day, because the first part was kind of boring.

There is also the issue that Orlando Bloom is not a very good actor, and even more so, not a very convincing alpha male. He was better cast as Paris in Troy, where he played the pretty boy immature little brother. In Kingdom of Heaven, the viewer had to believe that Bloom was the great alpha male of Jerusalem, the visionary tactician, et cetera, and I wasn't buying it. He just doesn't look like the sort of man that other men would follow, nor can I buy into the idea that he would have the mental or psychological gravitas to accrue followers, he comes off as very average.

Finally, there's a huge amount of nonsense in the movie (something Scott continued in Prometheus) which makes it hard to follow. Balian of Ibelin has been a blacksmith his whole life, and all of a sudden he is a master tactician who outsmarts Saladin. What? There's also the dumbest line of dialogue I have ever heard, in a movie:

"How do we get to Jerusalem from here?"
"Go to where the men no longer speak Italian, and then keep going."

I have not heard such horrible dialogue since, and I'd be fine to never hear such horrible dialogue again.

Altogether, this helps explain why Kingdom of Heaven has a mediocre 7.1/10 on IMDB, a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes (185 reviews) with a 53% among top critics (40 reviews), and a mediocre box office gross of 212 million (on a claimed budget of 130 million).

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