October 16, 2005

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Ridley Scott, 2005 .USA

5.5
a lavish, grittily shot little piece of epic filmmaking that starts out being about one man's redemption from his sins and a universal harmony of the world's major religions. actually, that all gets muddled by a mightily weak screenplay. this is one horrible little flick, half-heartedly directed by Ridley himself. i don't recognize the man anymore. i started noticing the descent with Black Hawk Down. then there was the spectacularly boring craptitude that was Gladiator (yeah, i said it). i actually liked Hannibal, and Matchstick Men had something interesting about it (despite the odd choice of portraying Nicolas Cage's ticks as "funny". then this -- Kingdom of Heaven. so the previous two were not return to form. you seem to be out of touch, my man. what can we do to help? take a vacation. travel around the world. anything to help you get back into that master director's chair you once had. i believe you still have it in you. you directed some of most solid modern day films - Blade Runner, Alien, and Thelma & Lousie come to mind. you are better than this! take a break. breathe a little. escape Hollywood. you need it. where were we? oh, yeah -- the weak-ass script. dressed as a generic spiritual quest, the story is so bland you can barely stay awake. there are some moments of interests (sadly, mostly during the battle scenes, though; not much of a spiritual film, is it now?) but definitely not enough for me to recommend this pretend film. i'm still not sure if the writer had an honest belief in his themes and story, or if it was just thrown up there in the hopes of eliciting some kind of illusion of depth. [ oh god - William Monahan, the film's sole writer wrote the screenplay for Scorsese's The Departed and Jurassic Park IV. help us. ] whatever the original intent was, the film simply abandons its honestly interesting themes (although too simple and earnest) after introducing them. it does bring them up from time to time to help us remember what the film is supposed to be about (because a film has to have substance to survive, otherwise it would crumble under its own stupid pretenses), but other than that it drops the ball right in front of your eyes, time and time again, completely unaware of its own lack of content. if you're looking for some reddemable quality, i would go with Ridley and John Mathieson's cold visuals. the film does look good and the dvd transfer is slick. (btw, Mathieson entered Ridley's professional life with 2000's Gladiator; although his style is incredibly similar to that of Scott's previous collaborators (i thought he had a single accomplice during that time, but no, he had different DP's), he seems to have become a regular contributor these past few years -- is he one of the reasons Scott's films have become so tired?). but i can easily dismiss this flick as there's just not enough meat on the bones to make it even a good film. leave it. you'll be better off without it.

ps. hey, lookie here -- my roommate loved it :P

Posted by Sam | 11:11 AM |