Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven: A rags to riches to rags story


This movie had a heck of a beginning. The royal dad comes back from the crusade to pick up his really healthy looking blacksmith bastard son, Orlando. (He has some French name but I'll skip that). Orlando takes a pass, then changes his mind (I won't give away why, but it's chilling) and rides off to catch up with dad. Once he does, they reconcile and decide they're going to head back to the land of the crusades, Jerusalem. But here's the cool part: Dad is hooked up with this really cool band of knights, one of whom is this amazingly strapping looking German with braids in his blond hair. During a skirmish with another band of knights, he takes an arrow in the neck and continues to fight - an axe in one hand and a sword in the other. It was totally badass! Unfortunately he expires and is gone from the movie. I was sad to see him go. The remains of the crew head off to Messina. Before they can leave for Jerusalem, however, dad succumbs to his wounds and, in a bizarre ritual, makes Orlando a knight.

Here's where things get hinky. Orlando was presumably raised by his mom and somehow learns this blacksmith trade. That allows him to have these seriously beefy arms. (Nice) But his transformation to a knight somehow gives him the clarity of thought and education that a nobleman would (might) have had. There wasn't enough time to do a "becoming a nobleman" montage before dad kicked it. So where did he get so smart? Let's review the life of a serf in France in 1184: Live in a hovel, wear rags, toil from sunup to sundown, eat poor quality food (especially in winter), pay exorbitant taxes to the lord, repeat. Reading, writing and arithmetic weren't part of the package. Yet, once Orlando assumes his role as lord of his sandcastle, he is seen in his "home office" reviewing the accounts and WRITING things! Oh, and in his spare time, he woos the married princess and becomes an expert battle tactician. I find it hard to believe he would have the class for even being able to touch the bottom of her sandal. But hey, that's Hollywood.

The English dudes in this movie do a much better job at looking haggard and dirty. Even Liam Neeson was much more roadworn than Orlando as the blacksmith. I will NOT talk about Orlando's teeth, even though I really want to say how inappropriately white they were. No toothbrushes for serfs! No Crest! No dentists! I have an obsession with teeth.

You know who I liked in this movie? Jeremy Irons. He played Tiberius, the king's man-at-arms I think. He has this cool eye scar (not like in Alexander) that made him look fierce and authentic. I thought his name was odd, however. Tiberius is a good Roman name. I would have thought something Christian would be typical.

The best line in this movie was delivered by Liam. He says to his son: "I once fought for three days with an arrow through my testicle." That's good stuff. We chuckled.

This movie had a good start but petered off into a ho-hum boring, trite storyline of the boy who makes good. I couldn't buy his motivation or those of all who found him to be so compelling. Ridley, where's my Bladerunner?!


Paul McElligott said...

There is a longer director's cut due on DVD sometime this year. General consensus is that it's much better than the theatrical version

Annette said...

Maybe if they use a shovel they could fill some of those holes. Or they could just bury it.