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The 12th century – Jerusalem is a Christian kingdom and there is a fragile peace between King Baldwin (Edward Norton) and Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). A young blacksmith, Balian (Orlando Bloom), illegitimate son of Godfrey Of Ibelin (Liam Neeson) travels to Jerusalem to find forgiveness for his wife who committed suicide and for his murdering of a priest.
Before his father dies, he knights Balian and tells him what it is that makes a good man – and knight: be without fear in the face of the enemy, uphold the truth and defend the helpless even if it costs his own life.
When king Baldwin dies, the hardliners come into power and war with the saracens breaks out. The Christian army is destroyed, and there is only Balian to defend the hopelessly outnumbered people of Jerusalem against Saladins army.

Can Ridley Scott save the genre that he revived with GLADIATOR and that suffered badly from movies like KING ARTHUR, TROY, and ALEXANDER? KINGDOM OF HEAVEN tries to be historically ‘accurate’ with some success, and it’s better than the others – but GLADIATOR it ain’t.
The battle scenes – so enthusiastically praised in advance – pale before those of LORD OF THE RINGS and GLADIATOR, and while Orlando Bloom does his best, it’s not enough. He’s supposed to grief about his dead wife and child but you don’t buy it. And you would rather follow Maximus into battle – or King Theoden – than Orlando Bloom.
The script doesn’t help much, either. Balian strictly follows his father’s advice and is so brave and good it hurts – but he seems not to have the slightest moral problem with sleeping with another man’s woman (Sibylla, sister of king Baldwin – Eva Green, looking exotic) who throws herself into his arms the moment he arrives in Jerusalem. And that so shortly after his child died and his wife committed suicide.
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN may be better than the recent epics – but it lacks a heart and a soul and won’t do for the great historic epic movie genre what GLADIATOR did.

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