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Miami Herald Review of Director's Cut

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This is another glowing review from the Miami Herald (LINK). It's such a shame this isn't what was released in the theatres.

DVD SCANS

Now it all adds up with scenes restoredBY RENE RODRIGUEZ

rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

Too often, the phrase ''Director's cut'' on the jacket of a DVD is nothing more than a marketing gimmick -- a way for a studio to splice some previously deleted footage back into a film, adding to its running time but contributing little, if anything, to its overall impact.

The extraordinary Kingdom of Heaven: Four-Disc Director's Cut (Fox Home Entertainment, $35, in stores Tuesday), however, is a radically different story. Running 191 minutes -- or 47 minutes longer than the version released to theaters in May 2005 -- Ridley Scott's lavish epic about the Crusades now feels like a complete movie, suffused with the emotional gravity and character development that was noticeably lacking from the theatrical cut. Where the original version felt like a hollow spectacle, this version is close to a masterpiece.

Played by Orlando Bloom, the protagonist -- the French blacksmith Balian, who winds up defending Jerusalem from a siege by a vast Muslim army in 1184 -- is no longer swallowed up by the larger-than-life scenery around him. Thanks to added scenes that contribute small but crucial details and texture, Balian is now a conflicted hero struggling with his lost faith in the midst of a religious war, and Bloom's performance now strikes the right note of melancholy and determination.

It's not just Balian who benefits from this longer version: Every single character in the film now seems richer and more complex, and their overlapping storylines are no longer muddled by desperate editing choices. As the bewitching Sibyla, the sister of King Baldwin IV, Eva Green has a lot more to do than play the token love interest, and the addition of a major subplot involving her son (who was completely excised from the theatrical version) not only explains her previously baffling descent into isolation in the story's third act, but also provides one of the movie's most heartbreaking sequences.

In an introduction preceding the film, Scott mentions that subplot as one of the elements he hated losing the most: Watching Kingdom of Heaven the way it was intended to be seen, it's impossible to understand why executives at 20th Century Fox would sabotage their own movie, after it was filmed at a great cost, by imposing a mandatory running time that would truncate the far superior version. The movie deservedly grossed a disappointing $47 million last summer and might have gone down as one of Scott's major failures. But thanks to DVD and the filmmakers' persistence, Kingdom of Heaven can now be seen the way it was intended, and it easily ranks among Scott's very best works.

Presented in a razor-sharp widescreen format with DTS sound, Kingdom of Heaven is spread across two discs, complete with old-school overture, intermission and entréacte music. The movie is accompanied by informative commentary tracks by Scott, Bloom and editor Dody Dorn, among others, who point out the differences in the new version and share anecdotes about the film's production. The remaining two discs answer any conceivable question one could have about the picture, tracking its creation from the writing stage (Scott decided to make the film after he had begun preproduction on another project, Tripoli, which fell apart) all the way to its theatrical release and, now, this final incarnation.

Running several hours, the exhaustive (and exhausting) supplements provide lots of unusually candid moments, such as Scott's initial read-throughs of the scripts with his cast (you get to watch as the actors meet for the first time) and the filmmakers' honest disappointment at the movie's box-office fate. There is also a collection of deleted and extended scenes, all accompanied by commentary from Scott and Dorn, a fascinating collection of proposed posters and promotional art work, and an assortment of trailers and TV commercials. This impressive DVD package celebrates the immense amount of work that went into Kingdom of Heaven -- and ensures all that effort did not go to waste.

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Thanks, MI. The praise keeps pouring in. :cheer: :cheer: I couldn't be more delighted.

:hug:

WW

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Thank you MI for bringing us this wonderful review. :hug: I am so glad that Orlando, Ridley and the rest are finally getting the recognition they deserved, its about time. :cheer: When I read that part about Orlando's performance I got tears in my eyes.

Kim

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Thanks for sharing this great review with us, MovieImp. :hug: This is how it should have been the first time around with the theatrical release, but better late than never! :) It's about time that all the actors and Ridley Scott get the credit and praise they deserve.

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Watching Kingdom of Heaven the way it was intended to be seen, it's impossible to understand why executives at 20th Century Fox would sabotage their own movie

Exactly.

This is another great review, and I have no doubt the DVD will forever be ranked among the highest sellers for a long time to come if the preorders by us lot are anything to go by. Now fans of Sir Ridley, or Eva or Liam Neeson and the rest of the cast can see the true hard work and emotional performances put into this movie.

Thanks to added scenes that contribute small but crucial details and texture, Balian is now a conflicted hero struggling with his lost faith in the midst of a religious war, and Bloom's performance now strikes the right note of melancholy and determination.

:yess:

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Wow, I am just unbelievably happy to read all these wonderful reviews about KOH Director's Cut. This part in particular is making me so happy ( the part highlighted by me for emphasis ).

Balian is now a conflicted hero struggling with his lost faith in the midst of a religious war, and Bloom's performance now strikes the right note of melancholy and determination.

I guess it's better late than never, but I wish we had all these wonderful reviews last year, instead of having to wait another year. But how good it is that Orlando is finally getting the recognition he deserved and still deserves for this wonderful portrayal of Balian. Thank you, Julia.

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Thanks, Movie Imp, for posting this great review. It looks like it's going to be one of many that this Director's Cut will receive. :clap:

Unlike the tepid review of Orlando's acting in KOH that the threatrical release received, these reviews heap praise on his interpretation of the role and Balian will be remembered as one of his finest roles. :2thumbs: I was impressed from the beginning with his acting in the theatrical release (never mind that we only got to see l/2 of his performance) so I know that I will be thrilled with the Director's Cut.

Hopefully, after the lighthearted POTC2 & 3 wind up, Orlando will again get a chance to do as full and dramatic a role as Balian, and take his rightful place among Hollywood's leading actors. No one deserves it more. :wub:

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Hopefully, after the lighthearted POTC2 & 3 wind up, Orlando will again get a chance to do as full and dramatic a role as Balian, and take his rightful place among Hollywood's leading actors. No one deserves it more. :wub:

Amen, sistah. :) I am hoping that Dan Eldon Story will come to fruition very soon. If it does, it will be the role of the lifetime for Orlando, one that will finally get Orlando recognized as a SERIOUS actor, and not just a pretty boy.

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Wow! MovieImp, thank you for sharing this with us. Just keep these wonderful reviews coming! I am just so darn happy for Sir Ridley, Orlando, Eva and the other terrific cast members.

:hug:

Charlie

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Wow! With one critic after another having nothing but high praise for this director's cut, as well as Orlando's performance, it really does make you wonder what on God's green earth Fox was thinking. :blink:

Thanks MI!

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Brava! Now I can't wait until Tuesday!!!

I loved the theatrical, yes, but I had to agree with some of the critics that it was definitely missing something. Unlike most unfortunate movie-goers, however, I *knew* what some of those things were, though not all.

*dances around happily* Now I get to see all of it!

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Thanks for the review, found a few more :clap:

On DVD: Scott creates a true 'director's cut'

"Kingdom of Heaven" has gotten an artistic makeover in a lavish four-disc set. Now, the once-disjointed film is actually quite fine.

Randy Salas, Star TribuneLast update: May 19, 2006 – 3:04 PM

Director Ridley Scott knows what he wants in a film, but he didn't get it when "Kingdom of Heaven" hit theaters a year ago.

Tuesday finally brings his wish with the DVD release of his original vision for the Crusades drama. The four-disc set (Fox, $35), larded with extras, contains his 194-minute director's cut -- and it's a stunning film. Comparing it with the theatrical version of "Kingdom of Heaven," which runs almost an hour shorter, it's easy to see why the latter was criticized as being choppy and incoherent.

The film stars Orlando Bloom as a French blacksmith who journeys to Jerusalem to fight in the Crusades to redeem his soul after losing his family and committing murder. He ends up leading the defense of the holy city against a massive attack.

The major addition to the director's cut is a subplot -- "which I still think shouldn't have come out," a bitter Scott says -- involving the ascension of a child king who rules the city briefly before chaos ensues. Filled with political intrigue and heart-rending emotion, it is among several plot points that the skittish studio ordered trimmed after similar period films "Troy" and "King Arthur" bombed at the box office.

"This isn't just adding a couple of shots at the beginning and a couple of shots at the end and doing an elongated version of a lot of entries and exits of scenes," Scott explains about restoring the footage on the DVD. "This is organic characterization that I've put back into the movie."

The additional scenes better justify and explain people's actions, give the characters more depth and lend gravitas to the proceedings.

"There are some elements that some people might argue as being too long or take too long to get there," concedes the director of "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner,"but I think you see what it is and judge for yourself."

The overriding impression of the new cut, helped by the plot's Shakespearean machinations, is to create the feel of a classic 1950s epic. This is reinforced by the DVD's throwback "road show" presentation, which adds an intermission as well as an overture and entr'acte music.

Other highlights of the lavish four-disc set:

• Three commentary tracks, one with Scott and Bloom.

• Optional on-screen text during the film with production info.

• A half-hour's worth of more deleted scenes.

• An exhaustive two-hour documentary about the production.

• Several featurettes about specific aspects of the filming, such as depicting the siege.

• Cast rehearsals.

• Storyboard and other galleries.

• Four trailers and 50 TV ads.

There is much more.

Remarkably, a history-oriented text track, two 45-minute historical documentaries and other extras from October's two-disc release of the theatrical version of the film are not included on the new set. You need all six discs to get the complete picture, literally.

But with the deluxe set, Scott accomplishes everything he wanted, including forcing a reevaluation of "Kingdom of Heaven" as one compelling film.

Kingdom of Heaven: 4-Disc Director's Cut DVD

Review by Brian Tallerico, contributing editor UnderGround on Line

The words "director's cut" get thrown around loosely sometimes in the world of DVD. We have dozens of unrated or director's editions that are barely different from the original release and some where even fans of the film weren't really asking for that much more footage. There are also dozens of films where all the cutting-room-floor footage in the world isn't going to improve it or, on the other side, really change our positive opinion of a film. But there are a few REAL "director's cuts" (Blade Runner, Alien) and now we have perhaps the most substantial one of all time - Kingdom of Heaven.

When it was released last year, Ridley Scott's epic take on the Crusades was largely mocked and rightly so. It was a mess of a film and now we know why - they cut the story out of the movie. The reason you felt no personal connection to the characters in Kingdom of Heaven is because they cut out the characters. Sure, Orlando Bloom as Bailian was there, swashbuckling his way through Jerusalem, but audiences never had a reason to connect with him. You'll notice the returned threads that hold this version of Kingdom of Heaven together immediately. In the opening scenes, Bailian has a significant conflict with a priest, who played only as a local religious zealot in the theatrical version. He's not. He's related to Bailian. Immediately, you have more interest in what's happening to your lead. And it's just one small example. That opening act, in which Liam Neeson finds Bailian, is where Kingdom of Heaven lost most people in theaters but it's where the director's cut grabs them and doesn't let go for the entire 191-minute running time.

If you've seen the theatrical release, forget it, and if you've never seen it, don't bother, this is the only edition that ever needs to exist in filmmaking history. And it will. It will stand next to Ridley Scott's other great works as a truly impressive piece of filmmaking. It's only a shame that more people probably won't see the film. It should be re-released in theaters and maybe someday it will, but, until then, seek out the director's cut on DVD.

When you do, you'll not only be treated to an excellent film, but one of the best DVD packages of the year all-around. The video is stunningly good as the film is split up on to two discs to preserve a high bit rate - even the picture quality is better than the original release. Scott and cinematographer John Mathieson's gorgeous visuals look amazing in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There were no color problems and the picture quality was comparable to HD. The audio is just as good with a Dolby 5.1 track and a DTS track, both of which simply rock. Most of the second half of KOH is battle and the audio mix literally puts you in the middle of the action with warriors screaming on your right and the sounds of swords clashing on your left.

Like the equally excellent Gladiator DVD release from last year, Kingdom of Heaven comes with every extra you could ever imagine. Start with the movie itself, which comes with a trivia track and two excellent commentaries - one by Scott, Orlando Bloom and writer William Monahan and the other by executive producer Lisa Ellzey, visual effects supervisor Wesley Sewell, first assistant director Adam Somner and editor Dody Dorn. The meat of the special features are on two discs of their own entitled "The Path to Redemption." There's a feature-length documentary about the making of the film, split into six parts, thirty minutes of deleted/extended scenes, a featurette about the historical accuracy of the film, cast rehearsals, visual effects breakdowns, an interactive sound design suite, an early draft of the screenplay, several galleries, premiere footage, poster explorations and all the advertising. This is one of those exhaustive editions like the extended editions of the LOTR movies that you really need to clear a weekend or call in sick to fully experience.

Kingdom of Heaven came and went so fast last summer that most of us never thought we'd have to see or write much about it again. Even the original DVD release seemed kind of perfunctory and we could all move on to the next Scott project. Then rumors started to surface about how much the movie had been chopped and how different the director's cut would be. Luckily, Fox gave Scott the freedom to do whatever he wanted to bring his version to light and packed it with an amazing set of extras and perfect transfer. As you peruse the DVD shelves the next time you're at the store, you'll see dozens of director's cuts, unrated editions and special-collector-anniversary-whatever editions, but very few are as impressive and essential as this one.

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It is so exhilarating to read all these positive and glowing reviews, they are like balm to wounded souls. Since these started trickling in, I don't think I've seen a single negative critique. And I've been almost smug when all these guys are eating crow like there's no tomorrow. :smoke:

I'm praying for a miracle that the DVD's European release date be forwarded. Waiting till September is like Chinese torture.

Thank you to all of you who have found these reviews for us. :samooch:

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Each positive and down right glowing review I read about this Director's Cut DVD just increases my amazement at why this version was not released in theaters. Do you think there are some Fox higher ups somewhere who are sweating there jobs for making the decision to cut the hell out of this apparent masterpiece?

I will tell you though that it does my heart good to see all of these fabulous reviews of the Director's Cut DVD. We all knew that this film was going to be one of Orlando's best performances, and now we're being vindicated for that faith in him.

Oh, and the idea of this Director's Cut being re-released in theaters is a pretty dang good one in my book.

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Another glowing review! :w00t: I will keep it short, though. Vindication has never been sweeter. :smoke: Keep them coming, folks. And thank you for posting it, Julia A.

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I was flicking through the channels last night and guess what was on? KOH, yep you got it. :w00t: It was almost over so I got to watch only about 20 minutes of it. I so need to see this directors cut real bad.

Thanks for the updates MI. I am standing proud as being an Orlando supporter through thick and thin. Take that, :tomato: all you critics.

Luv ya, :heart:

Cherie

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Guest WinchesterCrazy

"Bloom's performance now strikes the right note of melancholy and determination".

FINALLY! There's actually someone who gives Orlando the praise he deserves! Unfortunately, Orlando had copped a lot of negativity re. the theatrical version of KOH, so it's finally great to hear some positives in regards to his performance. :cheer:

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