From the director/producer who brought you the Oscar-winning Gladiator, as well as Black Hawk Down and Hannibal, comes the epic film, Kingdom of Heaven. The production of this film seems to be far and away the most intensive of anything that was filmed around that time. The cast, which is but a small part of this mega film, includes Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons and Edward Norton among many other talented actors.
The story begins with Balian (Orlando Bloom – Elizabethtown, Pirates of the Caribbean), a blacksmith living in France in the year 1184, is mourning the recent loss of his wife (Nathalie Cox – first feature film) and child, when an unexpected visitor pays him a visit. Turns out the visitor is not only a Crusader but is also Balian's father, Godfrey, played by Liam Neeson (Schindler's List, Rob Roy). Upon their reunification, Balian accompanies his father to Jerusalem in order to fend off the Muslims from recapturing the holy city.
From there a lot of fighting ensues providing a dramatic reproduction of the Siege of Jerusalem century – one of the key episodes in the Crusades. The battle scenes are really something to look at – Ridley Scott's got a reputation to maintain. Nifty siege towers, boiling oil, catapults flinging fireballs, menacing horsemen on the horizon as far as the eye can see. Flying forests of computer generated arrows are followed by flocks of vultures feasting on the fallen.
12th century Jerusalem is stunningly recreated with CGI much more seamless than the one used to do the Coliseum in Gladiator. Scott's latest film employs stunning set design by Sonja Klaus and the superb cinematography of John Mathieson (The Phantom of the Opera, Gladiator) to depict the dusty deserts, majestic throne rooms and forests full of floating ash.
Kingdom of Heaven's plot does not parallel its stunning cinematography, however historians and action fans will embrace this epic. An interesting addition for fans of the film is the 30 minutes of additional footage.