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I found this while wandering through the internet. Isn't it great? I haven't seen any bad reviews of the DVD. :cheer:

It's by Chad Varnadore, their senior editor.

Home Theater Spot

My Two Cents (for what it’s worth):

If you remember my review of the first DVD you know I had some reservations with the film. I touched on how I felt the production and story was a notch above Peterson’s and Stone’s epics of the previous year. How Scott took a wonderfully humanizing story with its compressed look at history to an almost spiritual level of grand scale and depth. Yet as adventurous, as provocative, and as deserving the story, its theatrical incarnation still wasn’t as filling as fans had come to expect from the director, and endured much of the same critical regard and audience withdrawal as Troy and Alexander. We hoped for another Gladiator and were given another Kong – full of promise and potential, but while captivating to behold, delivery was ultimately incomplete. And everybody knew it. But on the horizon there was hope. Speculation of a longer cut circulated on webzines across the net and was fueled by talk on the forums. Finally, less than a year later, it’s time to see what could have been.

Ridley Scott’s third epic period piece is finally presented in all its majesty and glory -worthy of heralding full blast with a louder trumpet. Adding an extra 50 minutes the new cut (admittedly preferred by the director) is extensive, rivaling even Lord of the Rings in promise and even greater in magnitude of impact to the story. New plotlines are revealed that explain a lot. And though a couple edits seemed a little abrupt, the new cut flows even better than before. But, the film was always long, so action-packed may not be the very best way to describe it, even though there is more action and more blood. In fact this cut is a good deal more graphic than the first, leaving reason for uncertainty whether or not it could also garner an R. And those looking for something completely different need not look any further either. Rather the story is finally whole – more complete in plot and structure, but it’s not an alternate ending, it’s an extended one. And I do hope that Scott will never again let naysayers influence his judgment or his art. But, I know there is more to it.

The new cut of the film adds far more than mere filler. There are several new plotlines that qualify events much better. The changes better explain the small army that seemed to pursue Balian for arrest. Balian’s relationship with Sibylla is better fleshed out, as is the whole changing of the crown after the leper king’s death. The opening delves further into Balians background – the death of his wife, his relationship with the man he murders. But, I won’t spoil it for you. Yet, there’s still some magic and mystery left to the film - an unspecified hint of divinity even. And, while I think this cut embraces even more of an atmosphere of understanding and peace among cultures, it’s surely to be just as controversial as before for the same and related reasons.

Appreciation for Scott’s mastery of his art lies in the details. Like any great director he always pays attention to everything. No stone is left unturned as it were. And this new cut proves his commitment has not wavered. Whether the subject is your cup of tea or not, gone is the need to criticize. The storytelling is now just as well rounded and thorough as you will find this side of heaven.

Parental Warnings (hope this helps):

The theatrical cut was rated R for strong wartime violence. This cut is even more savage, bloodier and expresses more sexuality.

VIDEO:

Fox has virtually eliminated my primary criticism of the first release. Ringing has all but disappeared in this presentation. How that is possible if indeed its root is of a necessary scaling artifact is beyond me. Regardless, from the very opening the skyline, the onscreen text, the cross, all showed a near dramatic reduction in edge halos, lending to heightened image clarity. The video is not completely without artifact. But, it’s about as near so as you’ll find on this format.

The reduction in ringing also reveals some subtle detail that was not as apparent before. But, despite a two disc encoding, a sense of softness still prevails. In fact in places the image appeared ever so slightly sharper in the previous release; even though I was able to find more real detail in this one. But, it was somewhat of a tradeoff in regard to resolution. Both leave something to be desired in that respect. Once you’ve seen HD DVD, and I suspect the same to be true of Blu-ray when it streets for the first time next month, it’s hard not to long for the same eye opening experience in everything.

As much as I was engrossed by the masterful storytelling, I couldn’t help but think how absolutely stunning it will someday be to behold Scotts amazing, atmospheric storytelling in high def. Like Gladiator, Kingdom is a story told visually, as much as it is anything else. From the calmness of an infant snowfall to the ferocious rush of battle, the photography exudes a hypnotic sense of depth that is only hinted at here and can’t be fully appreciated shy of the utter transparency of high def.

Through the films stylish bending of light, chroma and luma escape real world ambitions, but are exquisitely produced nonetheless. The cold cast of Europe trails Orlando to Jerusalem, for a stark change in climate, but not a fundamentally heeded one. Saturation rarely shows its glory, but the sophisticated balance looks wonderful in the altered light. Blacks are usually quite revealing and rendered with a sophistication of their own. But, there are spots of crushed shadows that still stand out just as before.

AUDIO:

As with the previous release, Fox has optioned both Dolby and DTS codecs for this one. Both preserve the original, mostly English, 5.1 mix. However, like the previous release, switching between the two on the fly is disabled, so unless the difference is dramatic, a comparison would be a challenge. The French and Spanish dubs of the first release are not offered again here.

As usual, I defaulted to DTS during my initial audition. DTS is what I preferred in the first release and what I heard of this one impressed enough to suspect the same would be true again. I had planned on going back and at least give the DD mix a listen. But due to the enormous amount of time involved going through the large volume of extras I forgot and ended up hitting the sack instead. I don’t think those sleeping in the next room would have appreciated me loading up the subs at 2 a.m. either.

The epic sound design is as atmospheric as the photography and stays true to the same basic fidelity I remember from the first release. There were no obvious changes, to me anyway, outside of the opening overture of the first disc and the intermission that opens the second. Harry Gregson-Williams’ majestic, sometimes angelic, composition is dramatic and full of power and scope that overplays the effects at times – even in the heat of battle. Though the priority afforded the score is well earned and no part of the sound design or the stage itself is unrealized. An all enveloping surround maintains a mostly ambient pace, but a bold one that floods the room with an almost deafening, indistinct rush.

The low end starts on a musical note, a permeating drumbeat followed by a deep electrical acoustic, and builds into the thunderously explosive final battle. Low frequencies are both foreboding and often intimidating. In fact I was left wondering if the encoding might be a little hot. But, I don’t think that is the case. Low frequencies are controlled and well articulated. Rather, having experienced some of the high resolution audio of HD, I’m more inclined to think there may be some loss of detail in the mid and upper range. Nothing atypical for DVD though. It’s a minor gripe, but there does appear some room for improvement in regards to clarity that should be achievable even on this format.

BONUS MATERIALS:

As if the previous 2-disc release wasn’t extensive enough, this new 4-disc set divides an exhaustive complement of extras over as many discs as the feature presentation itself. All appear to be newly created just for this DVD and all are worthwhile IMO, giving an interesting look at the movie making process and Scotts approach in particular. I know I learned a thing or two. However, if you liked any of the extras on the first release, which were quite educational themselves, you’ll want to keep it too rather than selling it off to help pay for this one, as from what I could tell, mostly from memory, both are pretty independent in what they offer with maybe a few shared excerpts here and there. Surprisingly all of the documentaries in this set are encoded in anamorphic widescreen and of fairly decent quality for extras.

The set comes in an attractive and well thought out case, the first of its kind from what I have seen. Similar in fashion to the clear plastic jewel on cardstock cases of the Ringu Anthology and some television sets from Buena Vista as of late, but rather than layer one disc on top of the other, annoyingly forcing you to remove the top one to get to the disc behind, the top two discs are held in clear plastic pages all their own that fold out when you want to get to the bottom two discs, which is much better. The discs still fasten through ring and hub, for scratch free storage, unlike the sleeves of the Pearl Harbor bible. There is also a pocket on one of the cardstock foldouts in the set, but no insert was included in the copy we received for review. The inner fold out containing the discs slides into an attractive cardstock sleeve, with a flat parchment or stone-like background and a blued high gloss graphic that wraps around the case. The title lettering on the front is also deep glossy blue (almost black) and adds to the appearance.

-----DISCS ONE AND TWO FEATURES INCLUDE:

-audio commentary with Ridley Scott, Orlando Bloom, and writer William Monahan

-audio commentary with executive producer Lisa Ellzey, visual effects supervisor Wesley Sewell, and first assistant director Adam Somner

-audio commentary with film editor Dody Dorn

-“Enginer’s Guide”- subtitled trivia track

-1 minute Ridley Scott intro.

-----DISC THREE FEATURES INCLUDE:

DEVELOPMENT:

-16 minute making of featurette on writing the story

-production notes and pre-production gallery for a previous Ridley Scott and William Monahan collaboration - “Tripoli”

-early draft screenplay by William Monahan

-3.5 story note cards used during production

-location scouting still gallery

PRE-PRODUCTION:

-20 minute making of featurette preparing for the movie

-13 minutes showing how Scott does cast rehearsals (documenting his process for the first time)

-32 minute featurette on costume design and props

-“Ridleygram” design gallery

-7 minute production design primer featurette

-production design gallery

-costume design gallery

PRODUCTION (Spain):

-19.5 minute making of featurette covering early filming, the start of the production in Spain

-26.5 minute featurette with history scholars on the films accuracy

-storyboard galleries with these themes: Balian’s village, forest ambush, pilgrim road

-unit photography/behind the scenes stills gallery

-----DISC FOUR FEATURES INCLUDE:

PRODUCTION (Morocco):

-31 minute making of featurette covering filming in Morocco

-17 minutes of production meeting segments

-storyboard galleries with these themes: Kerak, battle preparations, the siege

-unit photography/behind the scenes stills gallery

POST-PRODUCTION:

-37.5 minute making of featurette on editing, visual effects, scoring, etc

-15 additional deleted scenes with optional commentary with Ridley Scott and Dody Dorn (approx 30 minutes)

-interactive sound design suite that allows you to explore the different stages of the audio

-4 visual effects breakdowns

RELEASE:

-18 minute making of featurette on the reasons for the rhyme – why make this story and it’s significance now

-4 trailers and 50 (not a typo) TV spots

-6 minute press junket walkthrough looking at the set dressing, wardrobe, and weapons of the film

-3.5 minute premieres highlight reel (London, New York, and Tokyo)

-special shoot stills gallery

-poster gallery

-8.5 minute featurette on making the director’s cut

-director’s cut credits

Scene selection for the feature film has been very generously divided into 64 chapters over the first two discs.

Wrapping Things Up:

The holes have been filled and the story now told to a level of perfection that Ridley Scott does best. And the film is bigger and better for it than it first made out. Of that I am certain. This is a renewed vision that parallels that done for the extended cuts of Lord of the Rings. And that should speak volumes. Now the only thing wanting is a high definition presentation more faithful to the master than what DVD can afford. I only hope that Fox doesn’t follow Sony and release a lesser cut on Blu-ray when the time comes, as this is the version that most deserves to be seen. Until then Fox has given us an excellent DVD set that bests a very capable first release in just about every way.

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Thanks, serendipity and Home Theater Spot! I loved this part

Ridley Scott’s third epic period piece is finally presented in all its majesty and glory -worthy of heralding full blast with a louder trumpet. Adding an extra 50 minutes, the new cut (admittedly preferred by the director) is extensive, rivaling even Lord of the Rings in promise and even greater in magnitude of impact to the story.

I can't wait for International Balian Day.

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Thanks, serendipity, and Mr. Varnadore. :clap: The anticipation deepens.

:hug:

WW

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Thank you serendipity and Home Theater Spot for the great review! :2thumbs: I can't wait to see this. The anticipation just keeps growing every day. :jumpy:

Kim

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Thank you, Serendipity. It's SO wonderful to see others beginning to appreciate and love KOH. 6 more days! :cheer:

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