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I hope you guys aren't tired of these great reviews yet, and I think there will be many more to come.

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

Review by Brian Tallerico, contributing editor

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 Balian 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, Balian 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 Balian. 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 Balian, 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.

Show: A

Look: A

Sound: A

Extras: A

Overall: A

:cheer:

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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.

Another glowing review! :cheer: Yes, only if KOH could be re-released this year, and even have a shot at the Oscars. A girl can dream, right? Two more days to go! Can't wait, can't wait! And thank you, KLSMom.

ETA - Oops, I forgot. I saw a commercial for KOH Director's Version last night while watching TV. My heart jumped! It said, "finally, the movie as it was MEANT to be seen." WOW. I can't wait! Be prepared, all you nay-sayers! And vindication has never been sweeter. :smoke:

Edited by Suzie

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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.

I took the the day off. Oh, I can't wait to see this! Is it tuesday yet!?

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:towel:

Nope, Christine not tired of these glowing reviews at all. Keep 'em coming.

Thank you.

Aliza

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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.

Another great review ! :cheer:

Ridley Scott, Orlando and the rest of the cast and crew can finally reap the rewards of their hard work. :2thumbs:

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I don't think I'll ever get tired of reading all the good reviews this movie will reap. I am praying that somewhere, somehow this movie will be re-released and have a fair chance at the Oscars.

Bev :crusader:

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Thank you, Christine!

:cheer: :cheer:

These reviews are music to our collective ears.

WW

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Nope, never get tired of reading these great reviews. Keep 'em coming. :clap:

Suzie, you lucky gal you. You got to see a commercial for the Director's Cut? I haven't had time for much tv lately so I guess I am missing out. I get more and more excited as the hours tick by. :cheer:

Luv ya,:heart:

Cherie

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