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Kingdom of Heaven

Title: Kingdom of Heaven

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, et al.

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 6


With Gladiator and its attendant Oscar success, Ridley Scott seemed to resurrect a genre defined by Ben Hur and Spartacus, two classic “swords-and-sandals” epics made over forty years ago. With Kingdom Of Heaven, which depicts a young man’s calling to the Crusades, Scott again deals with an individual‘s rise to prominence against a palette of violent territorial dispute. On this occasion, however, there are obvious parallels to the world’s present volatile political and religious climate.

Whether or not they had seen this movie, less moderate Christian and Muslim commentators predictably knee-jerked at the depictions of their respective forebears. But this only highlighted that the film remains stubbornly and laudably neutral, and, if it tries to give any message, it is one of reconciliation. The major problem here is as regrettable as it is obvious: the film is cut to ribbons.

Being a Ridley Scott movie, this has stunning cinematography, dizzying battle choreography - and obviously cost a fortune. It is a shame, then, that the avarice of the studio seemed to have got the better of it all: the running time has been slashed by an hour to 145 minutes - still lengthy, yet evidently not long enough to do justice to this story. There are further flaws in its historical inaccuracies and a lead performance from Orlando Bloom which doesn‘t convince much amongst far more accomplished turns from supporting players such as Ghassan Massoud, as Muslim leader Saladin, and Jeremy Irons, as level-headed Tiberias.

Perhaps the promised DVD’s uncut version will do Kingdom Of Heaven more favours. Until then, watching this opulent would-be epic will likely seem an incomplete and unsatisfying experience.

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