Kingdom of Heaven: The Four Disc Director’s Cut DVD

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Kingdom of Heaven
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons
Studio: Fox
Rating: 7/10

CORPORATE LINE: Set in 12th century Europe and the exotic East, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is an epic romantic action film about a young peasant (Orlando Bloom) who becomes a renowned knight, saves a kingdom, and falls in a love with a princess. From Ridley Scott, the master of the modern epic.

Kingdom of Heaven stars Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) as Balian, who undertakes the odyssey of his life for a just cause. Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York) also stars as Godfrey, Balian’s father, who passes on to him both his barony and his legacy of knightly honor. The accomplished ensemble cast includes Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune) as Tiberias, military advisor to King Baldwin; David Thewlis (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) as the Hospitaler, Godfrey’s spiritual counselor and military aide; and Brendan Gleeson (Troy) as the bloodthirsty Reynald of Chatillon.

In Jerusalem, Balian falls in love with the princess Sibylla, King Baldwin’s sister, played by Eva Green (The Dreamers). She is the reluctant wife of the power-hungry baron Guy de Lusignan, played by Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy). Syrian film star and director Ghassan Massoud (Haytham Hakky’s Memories of the Forthcoming Age) also stars as the great Saracen general Saladin.

THE GOOD: The battles are fantastic. Every aspect of Kingdom of Heaven is well designed, although not as well scripted. Kingdom is visually absorbing and when all else fails it is the scenery that keeps you interested.

There is no chink in the armor when it comes to this cast. Orlando Bloom proves he has the chops to be a lead man in a blockbuster. Bloom must carry Kingdom of Heaven on his shoulders and makes the best of it. Neeson is certainly brilliant however this is not his film.

THE BAD: As gorgeous as Kingdom of Heaven is it lacks soul. Balian is the hero and yet we never really get to know him. Sure there is an attempt to make him human and get us involved but what makes him tick? Why is he such a man with so much heart? What makes him a leader? Is it because his father was a leader? Isn’t part of that a learned trait and not just inherit? A film isn’t supposed to leave us with questions instead its objective should be to leave us with answers.

You want to get into Bloom’s character and yet there isn’t enough substance to do so. Ultimately the film could have been longer and given us more. Not only do we need more substance about these characters but of the issues and strife of the era. We don’t need a history lesson as much as we need an updated as to where in the world we are at the time.

THE EXTRAS:
· Disc 1:
· DIRECTOR’S CUT Part One
· Introduction by Sir Ridley Scott
· Commentaries featuring director Ridley Scott, writer William Monahan, actor Orlando Bloom, executive producer Lisa Ellzey, film editor Dody Dorn, visual effects supervisor Wes Sewell and first assistant director Adam Somner.
· “The Engineer’s Guide” – This is a subtitle track with production notes and trivia.
· Disc 2:
· DIRECTOR’S CUT Part Two
· Commentaries featuring director Ridley Scott, writer William Monahan, actor Orlando Bloom, executive producer Lisa Ellzey, film editor Dody Dorn, visual effects supervisor Wes Sewell and first assistant director Adam Somner.
· “The Engineer’s Guide” – This is another subtitle track with production notes and trivia.
· Story Notes – Both text and images.
· Disc 3:
· *THE PATH TO REDEMPTION DOCUMENTARY
Part I DEVELOPMENT
· Part I: Good Intentions (Featurette)
· “Tripoli” Overview & Gallery (Text & Images)
· First Draft Screenplay by William Monahan (Text)
· Story Notes (Text & Images)
· Location Scout Gallery (Images)
· *PRE-PRODUCTION
· Part II: Faith and Courage (Featurette)
· Screen Tests (Video and Commentary)
· Cast Rehearsals (Video)
· Costume & Weapon Design Featurette (Video)
· Production Design / Conceptual Art / Costume Galleries (Text & Images)
· *PRODUCTION: SPAIN
· Part III: The Pilgrimage Begins (Featurette)
· Creative Accuracy: The Scholars Speak (Video)
· Storyboard Comparisons (Multi-Angle Video & Images)
· Photo Galleries (Text & Images)
· Disc 4:
· *THE PATH TO REDEMPTION (Continued)
· *PRODUCTION: MOROCCO
· Part IV: Into The Promised Land (Featurette)
· Unholy War: Mounting The Siege (Video)
· Storyboard Comparisons (Multi-Angle Video & Images)
· Photo Galleries (Text & Images)
· *POST-PRODUCTION
· Part V: The Burning Bush (Featurette)
· Deleted & Alternate Scenes (Video & Commentary)
· Sound Design Suite (Video & Audio)
· Visual Effects Breakdowns (Video & Commentary)
· *RELEASE
· Part VI: Sins and Absolution (Featurette)
· Trailers & TV Spots (Video & Commentary)
· ShoWest Presentation (Video)
· Press Junket Walkthrough (Video)
· Japanese & London Premieres (Video)
· Poster Explorations: Domestic & International (Images)
· The Director’s Cut & DVD Campaign (Video & Images)

The documentaries on disc 3 and disc 4 are fabulous. The documentaries are worth the purchase price alone. The 4 disc Director’s Cut set will be a heartbreaker for anyone that has already purchased the 2 disc set.

FRANKLY: A brilliant battle and cast tries to make up for what Kingdom of Heaven lacks in soul. What’s lacking that keeps Kingdom from being a great. To compare it with Gladiator is ludicrous just as comparing it to Troy or Alexander would be—Kingdom is out of the league of latter. Anyone that’s seen the commercials for Kingdom of Heaven and thinks it looks good will like it.

+ Charlie Craine

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