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Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

Alternate Title: My God's Better than Your God

Story: It's 1186 and the third Crusade is ongoing. Young Balian the blacksmith, is forlorn because his child has died and his wife committed suicide. Coincidently his long lost father happens to pass thru his small town on the way to defend King Baldwin of Jerusalem. Cut to the chase, he joins his father in order to save his dead wife's soul in Jerusalem.

Director Ridley Scott presents a down to earth blood and guts depiction of the Crusades. Lots of big battle scenes, honor, betrayal, bad guys, good guys, lepers, Muslims, Christians (a mention of Jews), a bit of sex thrown in the mix, vignettes of heroism, castle intrigue and did I mention big, bloody battles?

There were no surprises. The visual impact of the film carries it along through the belabored human interest scenes (which were not very interesting). Director Scott attempts to draw parallels to today's ongoing chaos in the very same part of the world. You would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that many have died in the name of religion and we have not gotten very far in the last 1000 years. Oy!

But if you like big action films with absolutely no surprises, don't mind stories with some HUGE plot holes and are interested in that period in time, this film is for you.

Acting: Orlando Bloom is a good actor. I am not sure that his stature carries the weight of his role, but he sure is nice to look at. Liam Neeson is always good but does play this same part often. Jeremy Irons was fine as Tiberius. Ghasson Massoud was impressive as the Islamic leader. It was good to see Alexander Siddig (the doctor in Deep Space Nine) again. Eva Green (The Dreamers) as Sybilla the love interest was forgettable and King Baldwin's face was covered the entire time because he was a leper but his voice was very familiar. It sounded like a young Marlon Brando. When I stayed for the credits I saw that it was Edward Norton. That was a surprise.

Predilection: I find that period in time very fascinating and I like epic films.

Critters: Many, many horses.

Food: Crusading does not leave much time for food.

Blatant Product Placement: Religion

Soundtrack: Soaring

Opening Titles: Simple explanatory notes as to where we are in history before the film begins.

Theater Audience: About twenty people, mostly men,

Squirm Scale: Decapitation, impaling, hanging, blood spurting and hand to hand combat is pretty squirmy stuff. I found myself closing my eyes often and flinching quite a bit.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch a lot when I realized the film was definitely going over the two hour rule.

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: There is much to say about the state of religion today. Most of you out there already know my opinion about the separation of church and state, politics in the Middle East, the current administration in Washington and the state of the world so I won't go into a diatribe just now.

Nit Picking: It was too long (but so were the Crusades). It needed to be edited.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Ridley Scott's other films try renting: Matchstick Men, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator,White Squall,Thelma and Louise, Black Rain, Someone to Watch Over Me, Blade Runner and Alien.

Length: Two hours and thirty minutes.