I’m never going to learn, I’m really never going to learn. Popular opinion means shit when it applies to music, television, and especially film. Yet, on rare occasions I always manage to fall prey to it, and pay for it. I was looking forward to “Kingdom of Heaven”, and one of the reasons for that is that I’ve heard so much praise about it, and I expected a film completely different from all the sword and sandal epics I’ve seen that were disappointing. After the tepid “Troy” and the awful “Alexander”, I was hoping “Kingdom of Heaven” would be a change in pace. And I was wrong. Even with Ridley Scott at the helm, I was just so disappointed with a film I couldn’t wait to get to.
“Kingdom of Heaven” is just another sword and sandal epic, except not as long as the aforementioned titles. And the reason for that is that it has the same elements all of the other films before it have possessed. Most times the elements of a film are so well done that I could care less if it was just another type of piece of the genre, but most of “Kingdom of Heaven” is too bogged down in the conventions of its genre to be anything more than mediocre. One thing you can’t really begrudge Scott’s rather ambitious epic for is its utterly appealing cast of talented actors from Orlando Bloom, and Liam Neeson.
But one of the stand outs is basically from Edward Norton who gives a very good and bittersweet performance as the leper King Baldwin who finds himself dying slowly while his kingdom rapidly fades. Though Norton’s face is covered the entire time, it’s still a memorable performance. But when you compare it to the empty experience of “Troy” or the painful journey of “Alexander”, it looks like a reasonable alternative, but standing alone, it’s just more of the same. A young man who is a skilled warrior but a mere peasant, rises to knighthood as a true warrior to defend his kingdom, while romancing the local beautiful girl, etc.
How many times can we see this same film based on a repetitive formula of storytelling consisting of battle, romance, battle, sub-plot, battle, conflict, battle, inspirational speech, lather, rinse, and repeat? “Kingdom of Heaven” is sadly an exhausting and bloated crusade’s film that really doesn’t rise above the rest and rambles on for too long accomplishing nothing except cashing in on the fad. While it’s not the vapid experience “Troy” was, or the utterly grueling experience “Alexander” was, “Kingdom of Heaven” even with its great cast and top notch directing is just a mediocre, stolid, and repetitive attempt to cash in on this weak fad.