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miss_L

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Review Of KOH from The Daily Telegraph, Aussie paper. Pretty good review, it gave it 4/5 stars.

Great Scott: all hail king of the epic

Orlando Bloom successfully makes the transition from spineless adulterer to honourable warrior in Ridley Scott's epic Crusade saga, set during the 12th century. After seeing his weasely Paris in Troy, I doubted whether the 28 year old British actor could carry a film like Kingdom of Heaven, which tells the story of a blacksmith who becomes first a knight and then a leader among men. He seemed too slight, and well, effeminate.

But unlike Colin Farrell's not-so-good Alexander, Bloom plays his part with a quiet authority.

When an actor plays against a backdrop as sweeping as this one, he is wise not to compete. Instead, Bloom positions himself as the eye of the religious storm raging around him- and thus channels its full force.

It's perhaps fitting that Ridley Scott, the director whose sword and sandal epic Gladiator spawned a series of similarly historicals dramas, has returned to show us how it's done.

The battle scenes in Kingdom of Heaven are as bloody and realistic as Gladiator's opening sequence might have led us to expect.

The character of Balian, bastard son of the great knight and Crusader Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), isn't as deep or complex as Russell Crowe's Maximus. But deperate times like these may well require a different kind of cinematic hero.

At no point during Kingdom of Heaven- in which Christian and Muslims forces fight ferociously for the right to occupy the Holy City of Jerusalem- are we able to forget current events in the MIddle East.

Balian represents an ideal.

This is a man who still believes in decency, honour, integrity.

"There'll be a day when you wish you'd done a little evil to do a great good" his great love, the princess Sibylla (Eva Green) tells him.

But pure-hearted Balian knows this is not true; that one "little evil" act usually leads to another.

Sibylla's words hang in the air like an accusation- condemning those who have declared war in the name of peace or prosperity.

The real world might not be nearly so black and white but King Baldwin's (Edward Norton) commitment to religious co-existance strikes a chord. As does the military restraint of his adversary, legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud).

Kingdom of Heaven does cheat a bit.. for a blacksmith, Balian's knowledge of war is as sophisticated as a WEstpoint-educated officer.

But this is a Hollywood feature film, not an historical documentary. And as such, it's a triumph.

Review by Vicky

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