This one had all the makings of a great epic movie: Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, a new IT girl of the moment for the obligatory romance, Ridley Scott. It just didn’t quite pull it all together.
Kingdom of Heaven is about the Crusades, and the war for Jerusalem fought between the Christians and the Muslims. As loaded and powerful that topic can be, even today, it was all sacrificed to be a “becoming the hero” vehicle for Orlando Bloom. And that’s the films major failing. Orlando does a decent job in the part, but there was not enough to his character to drive the movie.
The whole time you wonder what makes him so special, why is he the big hero, when he’s done nothing to prove it much less earn it. He goes from murderous peasant to wise, courageous nobleman in the blink of an eye.
Liam is wasted as his father-come-lately, really just there to pluck Orlando from obscurity and send him off to the Middle East. The other characters are not that memorable, as they were all there as second fiddle to Orlando: the girl, the worthy Muslim opponent, the manipulative Christian bad guy, the masked Prince leper, and even Jeremy Irons as the Prince’s top military advisor.
We get battles and battles, maneuvers and what not from the various players. Ridley tries to show both the Christian and Muslim sides as noble, with the more devious characters being the Christians. And somehow it’s all up to Orlando to save Jerusalem.
It just lacks heart, soul, a defining story arc and “that certain something” that are hallmarks of the true epic. Without these it was a just very loud, long Orlando Bloom movie. Not all that bad, but certainly not all that good either.
Final Snark: a Blockbuster night. Cheap beer and bad pizza belches.