Kingdom of Heaven movie review

As a fan of previous Scott’s previous movies Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, I was expecting a graphic depiction of the battles in the Crusades. In this regard, Ridley Scott tops himself in the gore-fest Kingdom of Heaven.

The battle scenes are as good as any war movie and twice as bloody. The R rating is deserved. Honeybun got more and more squeamish throughout the movie. Do not take children to this one. Artistically, Ridley Scott (as he did in Gladiator) was able to convincingly bring a historical place to life. Even so, the movie was visually impressive, the scenery of the middle ages, the city of Jerusalem and especially when showing the vast Muslim and Christian armies arrayed on the field of battle.

The movie had two main problems. The main character Balian – played by Orlando Bloom – was just not believable. The movie does not explain how a blacksmith (the illegitimate son of a nobleman) who inherits his father’s lands happens to be an expert in agriculture, engineering, and tactical warfare. A contributing factor was that the dialogue was sometimes hard to follow and as a result it sometimes became confusing on who new characters were and what motivated them.

The other issue is the historical portrayal of the Crusades. Scott points out every failing of the Christian armies. In contrast, Muslims are portrayed as entirely honorable and the spread of Islam by the sword is only briefly mentioned but discredited as the comment comes from a corrupt priest.

If you like battle scenes, this movie is for you if you are patient in getting through sometimes slow dialogue. If you want to see an accurate portrayal of the issues surrounding the crusades, you won’t find it here.

2 ½ stars.