Kingdom of Heaven is a film I have been anticipating for a long time. It was released on Friday and I made it a priority to see on its release date. Maryann, Ann, Tracy, and Lynn went with me.
Balian (Orlando Bloom) is a blacksmith who finds out that he is the illegitimate son of a knight who comes to recruit him for the Crusades. Balian ends up in Jerusalem, taking a stand to protect the people of the city.
I often found myself making Lord of the Rings comparisons, not least because of Orlando Bloom's presence in both films. Unbeknownst to me until after viewing was that Marton Csokas was also in both films - playing the evil character Guy (husband of Sybilla) in KOH and Celeborn (husband of Galadriel) in LOTR. Many lines and scenes reminded me of LOTR as well. At one point, I thought Balian would shout, "What say you!" One reviewer pointed out that the viewer nearly expects ents and elves to come to the rescue! (http://www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk/05/kingheav.htm)
Although the movie has some stunning cinematography, I was exceedingly annoyed by the battle scenes. The filming was intentionally shaky or blurred during the fighting and the blood spattering was overkill.
I felt that Orlando Bloom was able to carry the weight of the movie well, his first turn at being the main character. I was also impressed at how well he has grown up. I sat in front of a few drooling fangirls, who let out audible sighs at Balian's shirtless scenes. Maryann and I kept our drooling silent. ;-) Many excellent actors - Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewliss, and Edward Norton among them - rounded out the cast.
The plot, on the other hand, was ragged and confusing. The fates of some characters was left ambiguous (such as Guy). Other plot points, such as the shipwreck and Balian's time with his father, were skimmed over so quickly that I had a bit of trouble following the storyline. Two and a half hours were not enough to tell this whole story clearly. However, I have heard rumors of an additional 80 minutes on the DVD, so I look forward to that.
The politically correct anti-war theme of the movie nearly beat the viewer over the head. For such a nonviolent theme, I found the battle gore of the movie to be a contradiction. However, I do agree that peace is a worthy goal and there is much in the movie to admire. Balian was a mostly admirable character, refusing to compromise his values in many ways (although his love for a married woman, despite her unhappiness in marriage, was certainly not something to emulate).
The movie is rated "R". In my opinion, this is solely due to the overly bloody battle scenes. If some of the gore had been eliminated, the movie could have received a PG-13 rating. I was disappointed in that, because this is a movie that my ten-year-old son could have enjoyed, if the bloodiness had been less overwhelming.
I'd like to see it in the theatre again, if only to examine Balian's character a little more closely! :-)