As a guy it is very easy to “hate on” Orlando Bloom, simply because he seems like a pretty boy that all the girls love because of roles like Balian that he plays here. This tale of a man who has lost his wife and child, joining up with the Crusades in Jerusalem is ripe with parallels and lessons for today’s world. During his journey he has many personal awakenings, and seems to find himself “reborn” in the Holy City. Yet, there is someone (as there always is in tales like this) in the form of Guy de Lusignan, who has other ideas about what kind of person Balian is. This is where this enormous Ridley Scott (who better to handle the material?) movie chooses to hang it’s hat. While I sometimes find films like Kingdom of Heaven to a little too big for my tastes, overall I think this movie works, and I’ll be darned if Bloom doesn’t even make me like him a little bit more.
When I first saw the trailers for Kingdom of Heaven, it was movie I didn’t really want to see in the theater; so I didn’t. I know everyone talks about the “big screen” and how film is a visual medium, but I would much rather see a small movie on the big screen, and then watch an epic on my little TV. Why do I feel this way? I just think there is something inherently uncomfortable about sitting in a movie theater. We are forced to sit upright, without really moving for a considerable length of time. Add to this that we have no control over the sound (or anything else for that matter) and you have an unpleasant experience that it seems we are paying for? As I really put some thought into this, it just doesn’t make much sense anymore.
Inside Look - Tristan & Isolde and The Pilgrim's Guide
This look at Tristan & Isolde focuses on a romance, that before screening this movie, I really knew nothing about. Apparently, there was a love triangle between these people, and as usually happens in love triangles, the person who ends up being the third party loses out. “The Pilgrim’s Guide” is a really interesting way to bolster the viewing experience. Basically, you can run production notes and historical documentation with the film, thereby checking fact with fiction. I applaud the creators of this movie with being so open and confident of their work.
Interactive Production Grid; A&E “Movie Real - Kingdom of Heaven"; The History Channel's "History vs Hollywood"
This “Interactive Production Grid” is unlike anything I have ever experienced since I started watching DVDs. It gives viewers the ability to watch the “making of” portion of this movie in any way they desire. You can make it long, you can make it short but the best part is you can skip around without having to mess with too many menus or buttons. The “A&E” movie and “The History Channel” piece were similar in that they look the history of what Director Ridley Scott is putting across on screen. A&E’s take is to basically just tell the story, whereas The History Channel takes more of a compare and contrast type stance. Depending on your tastes, both of these extras have their merits. Personally, I was partially to The History Channel’s approach.
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes: Ridley Scott; Production Featurette; Wardrobe Featurette and Orlando Bloom
After screening the above listed extras, these featurettes were a bit of a let down. Not that they were badly done, they were just done in a “paint by numbers” way that the majority of the supplemental materials on this DVD set steered away from. I liked the piece on Ridley Scott the most, mainly because I find him to be a fascinating character study. He seems to handle these enormous projects with ease, and there is something really admirable about that. The “Wardrobe Featurette” was more informative than anything else, as they explain their decisions and reasons for why certain clothing and wardrobe props appear in the movie.
2.35:1 - Widescreen. The look of this movie is incredible as most Ridley Scott films are. Everything about this movie is big, but like such films as Ben-Hur, it is an epic that at it’s heart has a very small story. Watching this film, I really got engaged by Balian and his surroundings. Seeing this world recreated and not being able to tell what was real, and what was CGI was also a feather in this film’s cap. While I have to think that artistic license was taken here and there, overall I felt that based on the pictures I have seen this movie really go it right. Also, even on my small TV, the look of this movie came across. I can only imagine what someone with a home theater system will think of this two disc set.
5.1 Dolby Digital - DTS. This movie can be watched in English, French and Spanish. It is also subtitled in English and Spanish. I am really glad that my first experience with Kingdom of Heaven was on my own TV. The audio of this movie is HUGE. It’s not a overwhelming as Tony Scott’s movies are, but it is big enough to certainly test the limits of my crummy TV. Overall, the sound on this movie was the only thing that played how I thought it would. I expected it to be large in terms of expanding the movie, and it certainly fulfilled that expectation. The way this subject matter was dealt with was what surprised me the most. Kingdom of Heaven is only typical in the sound department, but I don’t know that that will bother too many people.
The cover of this DVD set is, from what I recall, the same as the poster used when this movie was first released. Orlando Bloom, shedding the man-boy image for the long haired, bearded look seems ready to take on the world. Underneath his pictures are horses making their way into battle. This cover uses the bronze color of a sunset, to underscore these photos and give them depth. The back features some more shots from the movie, a description of what Kingdom of Heaven is about, an extras listing, cast list and some technical specs. The look and style of this DVD cover retains the largeness of this film, while allowing it to easily slide into any DVD collectors collection.
Why didn’t this movie do better in the US? Made for $110 million, it only did $48 million on our shores, but worldwide it did $210 million. Still, with all the advertising costs the profits don’t seem like they would be that much. Me thinks that DVD and other ancillary markets are where this movie will probably start showing the black ink. I am just surprised that we didn’t embrace this movie more? Perhaps we want escapism and this movie too closely resembles what we see on TV every night? The box office seems to be in a weird time of transition, where even playing against type, or giving people movies to shake them up doesn’t seem to be working.
Something tells me that it may take a few years, but eventually Kingdom of Heaven will be seen as one of best epic movies ever made.
Kingdom Of Heaven was released May 3, 2005.