Kingdom of Heaven Ridley Scott

In the 12th Century, blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) is approached by his estranged father Godfrey (Liam Neeson) to leave his home in France and join with the European crusaders in Jerusalem. Balian’s interest is in redeeming the soul of his wife, who has committed suicide, but in bonding with his father he takes up the man’s cause, eventually leading the people of Jerusalem in defending their home against a siege perpetrated by the city’s former Muslim occupants, led by Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). Along the way, he becomes embroiled in a love triangle with Sibylla (Eva Green) and Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas), as well as a minor civil war between Lusignan’s fanatical Knights Templar and the king (Edward Norton). If it wasn’t long enough before, Fox has released a four-disc director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s latest opus, sporting an additional 45 minutes. Are the restored sequences compelling enough to justify this? Surprisingly, yes. This is not the first time that Ridley Scott has released a director’s cut, and as with Blade Runner, it is a marginally better movie for these inclusions. What was good before (supporting performances from Norton, Neeson, and Csokas, the battle sequences) remains and what had been mediocre before (the leads, the love story, the incomprehensible night photography) also remains. Ridley Scott has made a number of period pieces: The Duellists, 1492: The Conquest of Paradise, and Gladiator, with which this film will draw inevitable comparisons. With this brand of pop cinema, he has displayed a certain understanding of narrative universality, but there is no grasp of subtlety and no control of analogy. What one has is a film about contemporary Euro-Arab relations, though set in the 12th Century, suffering from an irreparable self-righteous bent. As for features, there are four discs, two holding the film and two holding bonuses (such as a feature-length "making of” documentary — where’s the director’s cut of that?). All one need know is that even the trailers feature commentary. (Fox)