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REVIEW: Kingdom Of Heaven

Those of you who actually pay attention to this site (Note: At last count 2 of you) may remember the greatness of DVD Critic Irene Ferris. Irene dropped off our reviewing charts some time ago, but today she’s back, and sent me an early look at Kingdom of Heaven, a screening I missed so that I can catch Star Wars Episode III. Sorry Irene, in my world lightsabers trump Orlando Bloom. I’ll have a review of Kingdom of Heaven later this week, but for now here’s what Cinema Blend’s much beloved Orlando Bloom superfan Irene has to say:

I've just returned from a critic's screening of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven and I'm exhausted.

Don't believe the commercials. This is not your typical sword and sandals type epic. This isn't just blood and guts and action and sweaty men rolling around armor (although I'm perfectly fine with sweaty, grimy Orlando Bloom--more on that later).

For a period of 100 years, there was a time of peace in Jerusalem. It was a tenuous peace but it was peace. Jerusalem was open to all, be they Jew, Muslim or Christian. Kingdom of Heaven takes place at the end of this period.

The movie opens in France where group of crusaders pass a burial at a village crossroads.

Balian (Orlando Bloom) has lost everything. The burial was his young wife, who committed suicide after the death of their child. He's in such deep mourning that it seems as though he's barely aware of the world around him.

Into this comes Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). He's been searching for Balian--his illegitimate son--to ask for forgiveness and to offer to take him to the Holy Land.

Balian at first numbly refuses but then commits a horrific crime and rides off after his father. His goal: In the Holy Land he can find redemption not only for his sins, but those of his wife. By his deeds, he can save her from Hell.

Ambushed by men wanting to take Balian back to justice, Godfrey is mortally wounded but makes Balian a knight before he dies, passes his estate and title on. He also charges his son to "be a good knight", something Balian takes to heart.

Travel with a Knight-Hospitaler (David Thewlis) and several plot advancements later he arrives in Jerusalem where he is charged by King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) and Tiberus (Jeremy Irons) the Marshall to protect the road to Jerusalem for everyone.

Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas) and Reynald de Chatillon (Brendan Gleeson) want war with the Muslims. God, after all is on their side. How can they lose? Their extremist counterparts on the Muslim side of the divide believe the same thing, because Allah is on their side. Baldwin and Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) have held a peace together by sheer strength of will, but Baldwin is dying of leprosy--his disfigurment is so profound he wears a silver mask at all times. And Guy is married to Balwin's sister, Sibylla (Eva Green). This means that Guy will be the next king. And that spells trouble.

Into this Balian comes into his own as a knight who has embraced everything that a knight should be and become a man of great personal integrity. He is literally offered the kingdom, but turns it down because the moral price is too high. At what price peace? Is it enough to condone murder?

Guy becomes King of Jerusalem, angers Saladin, and touches off a war that leads to the tragic Battle of Hattin and the seige of Jerusalem. Guy, in his stalwart belief that God's favor would make them the victors, left the city defenseless except for one knight--Balian.

Balian must defend the city, not for the rocks and stones and holy places, but for the people who live there.

This is is a deep, thoughtful movie full of sterling performances--and yes, I include Orlando Bloom in that statement.

It's a complicated performance, this one. When Balian comes to Jerusalem, he goes straight to the hill where Christ was crucified and sits. And waits. The movie goes to complete silence while he waits. But nothing happens. He then tells the Hospitaller that God has stopped talking to him. God no longer hears him. He has lost his faith. The Hospitaller tells him that God is not about voices or praying, but how one acts and conducts himself. At the end of the day, you'll be a good man... or you won't.

Balian evolves through the movie. For the first half of the movie events flow over and around Balian like a stream. Events move him, he doesn't move events. In a way, I didn't see him as the main character but more as a bystander to everything, and we were watching it happen through his eyes. He starts out so immersed in his own grief he can barely speak, but by the time he is called upon to defend the innocent people at Kerak he has become a force to be reckoned with.

And so has Orlando Bloom. Some people might call the performance weak, but I'd call it nuanced and understated. And excellent. In fight scenes, he commands the screen. His intensity is amazing. (and I'm not talking just as the woman who wants to wrestle with the man in a kiddie pool of sugar-free lime jello--I'm being all kinds of serious.). The woman next to me was in tears at the Rise a Knight speech.

Liam Neeson was amazing, as usual. He dies early in the movie, but I'd grown so attached to him that I wept.

Jeremy Irons as Tiberious exudes the weariness that comes from fighting a losing battle for so long. When he surveys the carnage after the Battle of Hattin and remarks that at first he fought for faith and God, but then realized that they were fighting for land and riches--the self-loathing and disgust in his voice just reached into me and made me want to cry for this man and his lost idealism.

Edward Norton does an amazing job with just his voice. You can never see his face except for the barest glimpse of his eyes but his voice evokes such sadness, weariness and hope.

The weak link in the cast for me was Eva Green. Sibylla starts off as strong-willed woman, seduces Balian and offers him a kingdom. But then during the last half she easily turns over the crown to Guy, spends the seige hacking off her hair and ends up looking like one of those extremely frightening big-eyed, depressed waif paintings from an episode of "Night Gallery".

Ridley Scott has done an amazing job with this movie. Visually rich and stunning, the costumes, armor and weapons are spot on for the time period. The attention to detail is outstanding. The battle scenes... well, there really aren't enough ways to say "incredible", are there?

But the most important part of the movie isn't the fighting or the violence or the romance or any of that. The most important part and most recurring theme is redemption. Godfrey's redemption by finding his lost son and saving him. Balian's redemption not only of himself, but his dead wife. Sibylla's redemption in the end. And redemption isn't from words or prayers or chanting, but by actions.

Ridley Scott has said the original cut of this movie was over three hours, and that cut will be on the DVD version. He had to sacrifice character building and several subplots in the meantime. Knowing this, I can see where he cut characterizations and subplots out of the theatrical version. But I don't care. I'll be seeing this one again.

And not just for the Orlando love.

Not much, anyways.

Irene “Crevette” Ferris

Visit Crevette’s Live Journal!

Alright, that was her serious take… and it sounds great. I’m ready to see it. But folks, that’s not the real Crevette. I’m here to tell you it gets a lot better. Here’s Crevette with a second Kingdom of Heaven review for those of you in love with Orlando Bloom... I believe you’re called “women”.

3 1/2 hours of sleep and working in insurance just do not mix.

I throw that down merely as a statement of fact, not for any particular reason.

I'm bushed. I'm exhausted. My uterus aches. Thank you, Orlando Bloom. Hell, thank you Sonia Bloom and Colin Stone for having an affair and conceiving Orlando Bloom. Thank you, respective parents and grandparents of aforementioned parents. Thank you, general collective gene pool that spawned Orlando Bloom. Your contribution to the sublime creature that is Orlando Bloom is herewith noted and appreciated.

I know that my first review of "Kingdom of Heaven" was perhaps a tad too serious for some. I'm sure you thought that I'd be putting up an expletive-laced, detailed, extremely imaginative masturbation fantasy that would require superhuman stamina and flexibility on Orlando's part.

Well, yeah. You guys know me too, too well. But I had to be all scholarly and stuff first. Because... well, I don't know... but I thought I should. Also because that's the review I showed Thom. Heh.

I attended a critic's screening in which there were maybe 25 people in that theater, tops. My teacher friend has a student who does reviews for the high school paper, and he had an in.

So yes, I watched this movie sitting next to a 17 year old male high school student.

No, I did not offer him candy or a G.I. Joe doll with a Kung-Fu grip, nor did I tell him I had a puppy for him to play with out in the van. My fascination with younger men begins and ends with Das Bloom.

Thank God. I don't think I could handle the ankle bracelet or the constant wearing of orange. Plus the stripes go the wrong way on prison wear and no matter how much weight I lose or how much I work out in the weight room, it'll still just be tragically wrong. But I digress...

I know that I did squeal, writhe and whimper quietly at certain scenes in this movie. I know this because the seventeen year old male next to me would either recoil in terror or try to cover my eyes.

Wrong answer, both of those. One, I can smell fear. I'm just like a dog. Two, don't you DARE get in between me and The Pretty. (The Pretty being Bloom, of course.) If you come between me and The Pretty, you WILL be pulling back a stump.

Gah. Gah. GahgahGAHMother****ingGAH.

The man was freaking HAWT. He was beyond HAWT. He totally met and exceeded all my HAWT expectations. He is a HAWT overachiever. He is das uberHAWT. He is the GAWD of HAWT. I fall down at worship at the altar of his HAWTNESS.

And Lo, Irene did see "Kingdom of Heaven" and Lo, Irene did require a can of Resolve (tm) to restore the upholstered seat to its previously non-crusty condition. And Lo, it was good. At least for Irene, who wished for a moment that she still smoked.

Let's just say that Orlando Bloom looks damned good grimy. He looks damned good sweaty. In fact, I'd like to do a scientific experiment where I roll him in the dirt to find out how long it will take for him to not look so damned good. It's much like the "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop" question, but with the potential for more fun. Although, how many licks does it take to get to the creamy filling in the center of Orlando Bloom's p..... Nevermind... Baaaad thought there.

I watched this movie with two parts of my brain. I already gave you the review my forebrain gave. Now I will give you the review from my hindbrain--the reptile brain if you will.

Movie opens. Liam Neeson. He's hot in a tall gangly way. Hmm. There's the blacksmith! PRETTY !!! MAN PRETTY!

Hmmm. Angsty men are usually not my cup of tea but when they're this pretty and WEARING LEATHER!!!! ::SPLURT::

Oh! He killed someone! WHILE WEARING LEATHER!! ::SPLURT::

Oh! He's fighting with Liam! Liam just bitchslapped him! YES! YES! YES! ROLL HIM AROUND IN THE DIRT SOME MORE, JEDI MASTER!

OH NO! Liam is dying! How tragi... DEAR GOD! ORLANDO IS IN TIGHT PANTS! AH!

A knighting! GAH! He's on his knees! GAH! BITCHSLAP HIM AGAIN BEFORE YOU DIE, LIAM! Oh. Damn. I liked him.

Oh! A storm on the ship! Yay! THE PRETTY IS GRIMY *AND* WET!!! YAY!! I LOVE RIDLEY SCOTT!

Oh! A fight in the desert! And Jerusalem.

Hey. Orlando still has his clothes on and I'm an hour in. I'm feeling cheated here....


(The Pretty in a fine layer of grime, wearing armor, and weilding a sword is my Kryptonite. Damn Ridley Scott.)

Oh!!! He's digging a well. WORK THAT SHOVEL, BITCH! WORK IT!

Here's the Princess. I know what she wants. Bitch. Wait! He's got his shirt off!! ::SPLURT!!:: I CAN SEE THE SCAR FROM HIS BACK SURGERY!! ::SUPERSPLURT:: ::SPLURTISIMO FORTE:: Pecs and biceps and triceps, oh my! SPANK ME, ELFBOY!!! SPANK ME! FORGET THE PRINCESS, SHE'S A TRAMP AND SHE LOOKS LIKE AN ANOREXIC 'PRECIOUS MOMENTS' KID!!



Damn. Who bathed him? Who? Cause it sure wasn't me! Bitches.

FIGHTING! YAY! Damn. He gets knocked out more than Scully did during first season X-Files.

FIGHTING! YAY! Oh! Siege! He's all... commanding and stuff. Oh. I have a thing for commanding men... ::SQUISH::


::sigh:: I so need a kiddie pool full of sugar-free lime Jello (tm), 3 ferrets, a leaf blower, and a case of Extra-Thick Reddi-Whip to roll him around in.

Oh! It's over.

Ow. My uterus hurts. I wonder why?

Irene “Crevette” Ferris

Visit Crevette’s Live Journal!

On second thought, maybe I don’t want to see this. I fear a post-movie non-consensual um… attack by hordes of Orlandoed up women. Keep your heads down men!