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Kingdom of Heaven (R)

Release Date: May 6th, by 20th Century Fox.
The Cast: Orland Bloom, Liam Neeson,Edward Norton.

BASIC PREMISE: Set during the 12th Century Crusades, a blacksmith named Balian (Bloom) rises to power and must protect Jerusalem from Muslim invaders.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The very well-shot, heart-pounding battle scenes are what make this film very exciting to watch. There are a lot of beautiful, slow-motion shots. Also, this is the kind of film that has to be watched with surround sound because the sound effects are very good. Unlike the last history-based epic of a leader, Alexander, this film's plot is much easier to follow. There is also a good amount of necessary violence. The costume design is superb--clearly there was a lot of time spent on production design. The real question, though, is how well does Orlando Bloom carry the film, especially since this is his first leading role? Unfortunately, he does not make a very convincing leader with his stale acting. He looks tired and even timid at times. Granted, he does have good looks, but his stale acting is what drags down the film during the dramatic scenes.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There is an interesting, timely message about striving for peace with the Muslims. Even though Balian does not really want to go into war, he is forced into it. However, because of Bloom's poor acting abilities, his emotional complexities are not drawn out well enough for one to care about his character.



THE BOTTOM LINE: An action-packed film with beautiful costume design, great sound effects and cinematography, especially during the battles scenes, but Orlando Bloom does not make a convincing leader and thus weakens the emotional impact. With all that aside, it still makes for a good popcorn film.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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