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KOH Directors Cut: IGN REVIEW

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A great review from IGN.com. Full article is here.

Kingdom of Heaven: The Director's Cut

IGN previews the forthcoming Director's Cut of Ridley Scott's religious epic.

by Todd Gilchrist

April 6, 2006 - Last year Ridley Scott returned to the world of period epics with Kingdom of Heaven, his chronicle of Christian forces' defeat in Jerusalem at the hands of Muslims during the 12th Century. The theatrical cut, a truncated and no-doubt studio-mandated 145-minute version, was released May 8, 2005 to underwhelming critical acclaim and disappointing box office returns. Subsequently, Fox Home Entertainment announced that Scott's Director's Cut, featuring at least 45 minutes of additional footage, will be released May 23, 2006, in no less than a four-disc set.

Having seen the original version, attended press interviews on its behalf and suffered through endless justifications of its seemingly superficial complexities, I was perhaps understandably nonplused at the prospect of an even longer interpretation of William Monahan's screenplay. But a recent Los Angeles screening of the Director's Cut revealed not only that my doubts were unfounded, but that Scott has lost none of his talent for telling stories; because Kingdom of Heaven:The Director's Cut is not just a 2 ½ star movie that earned itself two more stars, but one of Ridley Scott's best, and moreover, a film that deserves its place in cinema history - even if that place could only be located on DVD.

My first and most distinct memories of the theatrical cut go back to the ten-minute mark, when I mentioned to a companion that "I don't care about this already." Not so with the Director's Cut, which sucked me in almost immediately. Perhaps appropriately, the little details reinserted into this longer version create a different sort of interest, personal rather than plot-driven.

<<spoilers cut since I can't find the spoiler tag>>

Indeed, the sociopolitical jockeying is drawn out far more effectively, transforming the cinematic equivalent of a game of Risk into a compelling, articulate film. Lest the Director's Cut be misinterpreted as dry and dramatically uncompelling, however, the emotional dimension of the characters is strengthened as well; instead of watching the characters as chess pieces manipulated languorously by Scott and screenwriter William Monahan, we come to care for them, and more importantly, understand their motivations, be they reluctant malice, inadvertent nobility, or anything in between. But Kingdom of Heaven's great strength is its intelligence, and these 45 minutes restore its IQ to genius levels after its predecessor drooled its way to a paltry $47 million in receipts.

Other notable changes made in the Director's Cut include a bolstering of the film's religious undertones, creating not only philosophical underpinnings for each character but striking, palpable relevance to today. Meanwhile, Godfrey's extended convalescence creates time for him and Balian to bond and develop a real relationship. And the extended material regarding Sibylla (Eva Green), whose coupling in the theatrical cut seemed a product of some executive's demand that the film have some sex to go with the violence, creates a real, romantic courtship instead of just some unprovoked humping. (Not to mention the fact that the love scene is as tender and erotic as any I've seen in movies in several years.)

Both chaste and graphic, understated and gratuitous, this version is far more subjective in its depiction of the events, and because of that far more compelling. And while this is truly the film which by all rights should have been Bloom's coming out as a leading-man (emphasis on man), the greater accomplishment than restoring his evolution as an actor is the affirmation of Scott's authority as an auteur, and the reminder that directors do indeed sometimes (frequently, in fact) have a vision for their film that extends beyond the first week of its release.

So if you, like I once was, are skeptical about the merits of 45 more minutes of this film - one which I warned you will get bored, you may fall asleep - give it the benefit of the doubt; great movies are few and far between, particularly when we think we know all there is about them. But sometimes, as in the case of Kingdom of Heaven, truly memorable and significant artistic achievements cannot merely be made; they have to be found, re-forged and re-released. From a box office perspective, Kingdom of Heaven may well be dead and gone; but the Director's Cut DVD assures that its true legacy - as a restored classic and great modern epic - lives on for years to come.

[Editor's Note: Special thanks to Frosty and Mr. Beaks at Collider.com for alerting yours truly to the screening. We will be coordinating a massive attack in the coming weeks to further support this spectacular release, but hop on over to their site to check out some other reviews and equally enthusiastic coverage of Mr. Scott's opus.]

ETA: Collider.com's audio coverage of the Q&A following the recent showing in LA is here

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I hate to say it, I don't like being negative - but all these wonderful reviews of the Director's Cut that we've read just break my heart. It's the movie that should have been, for both Ridley Scott and Orlando, as well as all the others who participated in the making. It's what we expected to see, fully knew that Orlando was capable of delivering, and didn't.

I'm just grateful that we're going to be able to see it in this format. We all should be.

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I just cannot help feeling bitter. We all know at who. :cry: I am still stumped as to the why this wasn't the version that did the rounds of the movie theatre. The length of the movie just isn't a good excuse. Sorry for moaning again. :zip:

Thanks KLSMom for this great review. I am grateful for the invention of the old DVD player. Thank God for small mercies.

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Thanks for that KLSMom! What a wonerful, glowing review. I keep telling myself that what's done is done, and cannot be undone. And to be thankful that at least the true film is getting a release on DVD, and that the word is getting out there. But at the same time, it is so monstrously unfair that the film didn't get these reviews on the world stage when it should've done. :huh:

Please lord, let someone be eating some humble pie right about now.

Cheers

CC :meow:

PS Two words : Shawshank Redemption. It almost disappeared on circuit. True, it got nominated for 7 Oscars but it won none. And now, in the March edition of Empire magazine, it's just been voted (by the readers) as no.1 in the 201 Greatest Movies of all Time. It just goes to show that a film can come out on top, post box office.

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Sigh. Yes, it's breaking my heart. BIG time. :blow: That's all I can say right now.

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A reminder:

I know I 'started it' - but let's be kind and not dwell on who is to blame for what was released to the theatres. Let's celebrate that there is a 'second chance', albeit on DVD!

Thanks. :)

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I am overwhelmed by this one review. It makes me so sad and mad at the same time that this version wasn't what was released in theatres, especially since we won't ever get to see it on the big screen outside the US, and so few saw it even then. I sincerely hope that all studios will learn that cutting out the heart of a movie in favour of action is counter-productive. I am over the moon at the recognition of the depth of Balian's character and thus of Orlando.

On a more shallow note, I particluarly loved this part :

(Not to mention the fact that the love scene is as tender and erotic as any I've seen in movies in several years.)
I don't need to say more, I'm sure.

Eta: Sorry, Jan. I was pondering the words of my post for so long I missed yours. I must say that I am really looking forward to more of these second-look reviews. I am quite sure that through this dvd this film will eventually attain the status it deserves.

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I hate to say it, I don't like being negative - but all these wonderful reviews of the Director's Cut that we've read just break my heart. It's the movie that should have been, for both Ridley Scott and Orlando, as well as all the others who participated in the making. It's what we expected to see, fully knew that Orlando was capable of delivering, and didn't.

I'm just grateful that we're going to be able to see it in this format. We all should be.

I am with you Jan and I agree with everything you said here. It breaks my heart too, if only they had released this version last year, Orlando and Ridley Scott might not have received those negative reviews and it would have shown audiences just how talented an actor Orlando is.

Kim

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Christine, thank you for bringing this review to us. I am more eager than ever to see the Director's Cut, the movie as it should have originally been shown. It's a second chance, a second coming. Sadly not in theatres, but we'll have the DVD, and KOH will live on in beauty, majesty and power.

WW

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Thanks for bringing that over here, Christine.

:cry: It does break my heart too, but I am still proud of Orlando. It's great to read so many positive reviews of the Director's Cut, and again, by male reviewers!

I can't help but feel that the day will come when all will finally recognize his talent and appreciate his work as much as we do. It just isn't his time yet, but I believe. :crusader:

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It just isn't his time yet

That is exactly what I believe. Stardom came a bit too easily for Orlando, almost overnight. Perhaps it is a blessing that the movie wasn't released in all of it's glory. I would rather see Orlando struggle a bit, and come out with longevity, than be some overnight sensation that has a few hit movies and than you never hear about him again. Like all of my Ka-Bloomie sistahs, I believe he is much more talented than critics have given him credit for. In time, they ("that collective they") will see it too. As for Ridley Scott, everyone knows that he knows how to make a movie, someone just didn't see the mistake they were making. I can't wait for the release of the extended edition. I look forward to seeing just what it was meant to be.

Whew! Where did all that come from?

Thanks Christine for the interview. I loved it!

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Thanks for bringing over the interview, Christine. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the Director's Cut DVD.

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Thanks for posting this Christine! It is such a great review.

I agree with what everybody has said. Heartache and pride in equal measure.

Here's another perspective: all this is vindication of us! We're the ones who knew from the beginning just how good this movie really is and just how good an actor Orlando is. We can say that we believed before it was fashionable.

I believe! :crusader:

I :heart: you guys big time.

Aliza

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The Italians have a saying that immediately springs to mind . "He who laughs last, laughs best. "

KLSMom, thanks for bringing that review over here. It was more thrilling than it should have been to read such effusive praise for the extended director's cut. I watched KOH last night on Cinemax and I was amazed at the flashing moments of brilliance that could be seen sprinkled throughout the film, and the surrounding sense that there was something else just there out of the audience's reach. Those moments would flare up quickly, brightly, then would be gone without delivering on their initial promise, and it kept happening over and over. There were a couple of scenes with Orlando that the energy cut from the screen was still resonating on it, palpable in his voice and his face. It left me feeling confused and really irritated, because it was apparent that the fullness of the story was not being told. I can't recall seeing a film that appeared so obviously hacked to pieces as much as KOH does. No wonder it fell so flat with theatre goers.

I'm just so thankful the opportunity is given for Ridley to correct this, and so quickly. (How long was it before the Director's Cut of Blade Runner came out? :wink:) This whole experience just might make some folks in Hollywood sit up and take further notice of what they do with the big screen. In fact, perhaps they will bring the EE back to it. Now that is a Crusade I could get behind.

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Thanks for posting this Christine! It is such a great review.

I agree with what everybody has said. Heartache and pride in equal measure.

Here's another perspective: all this is vindication of us! We're the ones who knew from the beginning just how good this movie really is and just how good an actor Orlando is. We can say that we believed before it was fashionable.

I believe! :crusader:

I :heart: you guys big time.

Aliza

Aliza, you are absolutely right. Everyone else is finally finding out what we knew all along that Orlando is someone special and talent like his can't be overlooked for very long and I think its finally happening for him. And the fact that he is so down-to-earth and with a big heart he will go a long way and like Oprah has said, his future is so bright it burns our eyes. :wub:

Kim

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I didn't think I could be any more impatient for the KOH EE, but after reading this review it's almost unbearable. Jan said don't be negative, so I'm going to be good. I'll just say this, I too am looking foward to seeing a lot of critics eat their words.

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I'll just say this, I too am looking foward to seeing a lot of critics eat their words.

That's a small consolation, if there was any. :cry:

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Well, you all know how I feel about this movie and its hack job. The main thing is that we will get to see it at some point. I'm just so glad all these glowing reviews have come out about Orlando. I think more people will take notice of him for the excellent actor he is and not just for his physical beauty. All I really hope for is that he gets the chance to do what he wants to do, and is not held back by typecasting or stereotypes. He's probably made enough money by now to live on for the rest of his life. It's the chances he needs, to have good directors think of him when they're casting their movies. With all these good reviews for KoH I think that will happen. And that's the most important thing. After all, according to the book about the movie, Ridley Scott remembered Orlando from Black Hawk Down and thought of him when he was casting for Balian. And how big was Orlando's role in that? Not very. But he didn't cast, for instance, Eric Bana as Balian, which I could see him doing after they'd worked together on that same movie - and Eric would probably have done it well, nothing against him at all! But Scott chose Orlando and I think that says a lot. Hopefully it says a lot to other directors as well.

Only 39 more days! (or more if you're getting the English version - which I'm reconsidering after they changed the cover art :blush: )

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Please lord, let someone be eating some humble pie right about now.
Well, CC, the writer of this review is!

This whole experience just might make some folks in Hollywood sit up and take further notice of what they do with the big screen. In fact, perhaps they will bring the EE back to it. Now that is a Crusade I could get behind.
And I'll be right behind you, Ginger. I'm hoping that the DVD will be successful and the movie becomes more known and in a few years' time KOH EE will be shown in theatres (by popular demand) and eventually on the TV. Maybe it'll become another Ben Hur and will be shown regularly at certain holidays. But how ever many times it's seen on the TV nothing compares to the big screen.

Thank you, Christine, for finding this article, it made wonderful reading.

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It's the chances he needs, to have good directors think of him when they're casting their movies. With all these good reviews for KoH I think that will happen. And that's the most important thing.

You said it so well, Ganymede. Other directors are sure to see the director's version ( if they haven't already ), and notice what an incredible job Orlando did as Balian. That's the ultimate vindication, IMO. I am so happy this director's cut is being made available, albeit on DVD. And I smiled reading this person talking about the love scene. Yes, it's lovely and very sensual ( I don't know if that's the right word to use ). I can't wait to see your reactions. 39 more days to go! :cheer:

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And I smiled reading this person talking about the love scene. Yes, it's lovely and very sensual ( I don't know if that's the right word to use ). I can't wait to see your reactions. 39 more days to go! :cheer:

Suzie,

I can't wait to read the reactions to the love scene either! :wink: Although it might not be right away for me because I will probably need to recover first before I can find the right words. :throb:

Kim

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Let me start off by saying that I agree with you 150%, Jan.

I've thought a lot about what has transpired with this film and how those events have made all of us feel. I decided that I'm going to buy as many copies of the Director's cut as I can afford and give them to everyone I know as gifts. Maybe in some small way, I can help get the word out there that this is an excellent movie.

I want as many people as possible to see not only what I consider to be a very timely and important story but also what an amazing job of acting that Orlando did in this film. :wub: He deserves much more credit than he has gotten so far and I'm going to make sure that at least my friends and family get to see it for themselves (even though I've already told them all 100 times what a great job he did :blush: ).

Kathie

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Maybe in some small way, I can help get the word out there that this is an excellent movie.

I am doing my little bit too. I have put "Buy KOH Director's Cut DVD" in my signature at every other board I belong to, not necessarily all Orlando boards. We can but spread the word, Kathie. :)

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Parrot Lady and LenaLove, that's the ka-Bloomie spirit. :cheer: Stay positive, and do what we can to share this wonderful film with as many people as possible. (Or, get all your negative thoughts out now, so you can really enjoy this movie on May 23rd).

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From Ginger's post:

This whole experience just might make some folks in Hollywood sit up and take further notice of what they do with the big screen. In fact, perhaps they will bring the EE back to it. Now that is a Crusade I could get behind.

I'll be right there with you Ginger. Maybe Fox will see the light when they read the reviews of the EE DVD and schedule this EE version of KOH for a wide theatrical release. I'm trying to be optimistic here, cause I think that Ridley Scott, Monahan, Orlando, Eva and the rest of the superb cast deserve some recognition for their hard work -- like maybe Oscar consideration in 2007 !

And what a wonderful gift idea, Lenalove:

I decided that I'm going to buy as many copies of the Director's cut as I can afford and give them to everyone I know as gifts. Maybe in some small way, I can help get the word out there that this is an excellent movie.

If we all did this, what a difference that would make to the sales. I'm all for it ! :clap:

As for that "lovely and sensual love scene" -- oh, boy, I can't wait ! :w00t:

Is it May 23 yet ?

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