Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Marton Csokas, Brendan Gleeson, Edward Norton, David Thewlis, Alexander Siddig, Ghassan Massoud and Liam Neeson

Ridley Scott

Running Time:
145 mins

Out to buy on DVD 07/10/05

"Rise a Knight"

1158, Godfrey of Ibelin (Neeson) returns home from the Crusades to seek his son, Balian (Bloom). On finding him, he takes Balian under his wing and travels back to Jerusalem but when he is fatally wounded in battle, his title and responsibility pass to his son. It is now up to Balian to protect the people of the Holy City, as he is sworn to be a knight.

Director Ridley Scott returns to the genre that gave him Oscar success but can his new historical drama be as good as 'Gladiator'?

After the huge success of his last historical epic and the unprecedented critical and financial failure of ones that followed like 'Troy' and 'Alexander', it was up to Ridley Scott to reinvigorate the genre and with 'Kingdom of Heaven' he almost succeeds.

The subject matter and the historical backdrop are instantly interesting and made for great source material. The epic battles and power mongering of the Crusades easily makes epic cinema and Scott takes this and runs with it with his usual visual flair and gift for grandeur.

The look of the film is quite simply stunning and one of the most realistic looking films ever created for the genre. With 'Troy', 'Alexander' and even 'The Lord of the Rings' there was a computer animated look to the battle sequences. While most of these still looked good, especially 'The Lord of the Rings', nothing comes close to this film for pure realism. The siege of Jerusalem is quite simply stunning. Ridley Scott and his creative team take you into the heart of the battle, as if you were one of the knights or soldiers involved but then he will pan out to reveal the full extent of the confrontation and never at any point do you think 'this is the computer generated bit then'. It is this realism that makes 'Kingdom of Heaven' a visual spectacle and a treat to watch.

The visuals of the piece do not hide the film's major shortcoming however, the final cut. At 145 minutes, the film is a decent length but you can't help feel it should be longer. You would think that you are watching the TV edit of the movie, as the storyline doesn't feel as complete as it should have been. The film raises too many questions that are not answered or suitably resolved. Why did Balian instantly become close to his father? How did he learn to fight so well in such a short time? How did he become such a good military tactician? All these questions and more are not answered and you feel that they could be on the cutting room floor waiting for their inclusion on the director's cut DVD. They should have been included in the theatrical release however as it would have made for a more complete story.

The performances from the cast do try and make up for the shortcomings and plot holes in the story however. While some may argue that Orlando Bloom is too much of a pretty boy for a role like this, he does rise to challenge of such a commanding leading role. A slightly older and bigger actor would have given the part more screen presence but the character and the film is more about the ideal of a knight than the man in the armour. Orlando Bloom grows into the role as the film progresses, mirroring his experience in battle and his observations of what is going on around him, and it proves that he might actually have what it takes to be a leading man.

Orlando is supported by some of the best in the business. Jeremy Irons and David Thewlis are exceptional as Tiberias, the leader of the King's knights and Hospitaler, Godfrey's priest and advisor to Balian. Marton Csokas plays the power hungry, warmonger Guy de Lusignan with great skill because you instantly hate him. The same can be said about Brendan Gleeson as Reynald, the Templar Knight with a thirst for war. Ghassan Massoud is excellent as the Muslim King Saladin, portraying with an heir of dignity. The beautiful Eva Green is exceptional as Princess Sibylla, even though her part could do with more screen time. Liam Neeson makes his presence known in a relatively small role. It is Edward Norton almost steals show however as the leprosy riddled King Baldwin. He has more screen presence behind a mask than most actors could ever dream of.

'Kingdom of Heaven' might not be in the same league as 'Gladiator' but it is still one of the best historical dramas since the Oscar winner. A visual treat with an interesting story, this is a film that is still riveting even though you will be thinking that this should be a lot longer.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts soundtracks, the movie is presented extremely well, highlighting the brilliant cinematography and visual effects.


Disc 1

The Pilgrims Guide
A historical reference track that provides background information on the real people and true events that are depicted in the film.

Inside Look
Director Kevin Reynolds and stars Sophia Myles and James Franco take you behind the scenes of the upcoming 'Tristan and Isolde'.

Previews of 'Titanic: Special Edition', '24: Season 4', 'Mr & Mrs Smith', 'Fantastic Four' and 'Night Watch'

Disc 2

Interactive Production Grid (1hr 23.06 mins)
With the option to watch the whole documentary or split it into sections covering Directing, Crew and Cast during pre-production, production and post-production, which can be viewed as one documentary or be selected as individual featurettes. Director Ridley Scott, writer William Monahan, executive producer Lisa Ellzey, first assistant director Adam Sommer, production designer Arthur Max, costume designer Janty Yates, composer Harry Gregson-Williams, visual effects supervisor Wesley Sewell, supervising sound editor Per Hallberg and stars Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleason, Ghassan Massoud, Eva Green and Marton Csokas take you through the entire production of 'Kingdom of Heaven'. From the development of the script, through pre-production, location scouting, set construction and costume design to production and post-production special effects. This is a comprehensive look at the making of the movie, as you'd expect from a Ridley Scott movie.


History vs. Hollywood A & E Movie Reel (42.57 mins)
History Channel host Geoff Wawro introduces a look at how historically accurate 'Kingdom of Heaven' actually is. Looking at the historical record of the period between the 1st and 2nd Crusades, the programme highlights the castles, Jerusalem, Saladin, siege warfare, the crusaders and the Templar Knights. It also features interviews with history scholars and director Ridley Scott, Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and Eva Green.

Internet Featurettes (8.57 mins)
Entitled 'Ridley Scott: Creating Worlds', 'Orlando Bloom: The Adventure of a Life Time', 'Production Design: Bringing an Old City back to life' and 'Costume Design: Creating characters through wardrobe', these short featurettes include interviews with director Ridley Scott, production designer Arthur Max, costume designer Janty Yates, visual effects supervisor Wesley Swell and stars Orlando Bloom, David Thewlis and Liam Neeson.

Promotional Material

Theatrical Trailer
Watch the trailer used to promote the movie in cinemas


As you might expect from a Ridley Scott movie, the DVD package is as exceptional as always. With a comprehensive documentary on the making of the film and featurettes that cover everything else, the only thing missing from this package is a commentary track. With an extended version of the film coming soon, fans may want to hold off to see the complete 'Kingdom of Heaven' but for those who loved the theatrical version, this is an excellent package.



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