[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B000K14LTA][/pullquote] When Kingdom of Heaven was released in 2005, it was met with a thoroughly mixed reception from critics and the box office alike. A vast majority of criticism was levelled at the lack of depth in the story and the performance of the main lead Orlando Bloom. In 2006, Ridley Scott was allowed to release his ˜Director’s Cut’ on DVD. Boasting an extra 45 minutes on the running time, it dramatically changes the film and gives it a sense of purpose that it lacked in the studio edit.
Set in the 12th Century, the film follows the life of Balian (Orlando Bloom) who is troubled by the suicide of his wife and his murder of half-brother (Michael Sheen) embarks with his father Godfrey (Liam Neeson) into a life of a crusader. Whilst in Jerusalem he becomes accustomed to the political climate and finds himself a pawn in the games of King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton).
Scott is known for his attention to detail, and Kingdom of Heaven never disappoints, with the feeling that every item of clothing and weaponry has been meticulously researched and hand-crafted. The camera shots are rich and engrossing and no expense has been spared in the search of perfection from a technical standpoint. Add to this the stellar supporting cast, including David Thewlis and Eva Green and it has all the hallmarks of a classic for the ages.
Unfortunately, Kingdom of Heaven falls short with the lead character. It’s not that Orlando Bloom is bad, in fact he’s better in the Director’s Cut than he is in almost any other film. He just spends so much of the film looking like someone who is standing in for the big star. You can’t help but think he would be more comfortable sipping a latte in his Hollywood mansion than fighting down and dirty in the sands of Jerusalem. It is such a shame too, because this version of the film is so close to being a stand-out epic that to fall short with one piece of casting seems harsh.
This is clearly Scott’s vision for the film, and it seems such a terrible waste to have released the far inferior version in cinemas. In the end however it is a hairs-breadth away from reaching the highest acclaim and must settle for simply being a great film with a sub-par lead.