Tuesday, 2 September 2008

"Kingdom Of Heaven". A Review Of The 4DVD 'DEFINITIVE EDITION'.





This Extended Ridley Scott Approved Cut of his movie is far better than the released version and is now re-issued out of its 4DVD Card Box (£30 or more) and into this collector's metal tin. This "Definitive Edition" places all discs (4 in this case) in a shiny metallic embossed tin (later issues are in a card wrap) and at £10 or under - is an absolute steal. Unfortunately there's no booklet - a shame that.

The film itself is split across Discs 1 and 2, beginning with an Overture and continued on Disc 2 with an Interval - like an old style epic. In some places it's way more uncomfortable in the bloody department. When Brendan Gleeson (part mad, part catalyst for other people's evil) is unleashed on the Muslim King's village and family - it's not pretty. It's a ruse to deliberately goad him and his armies into war - and it works. There is a superb extension of the Eva Green scenes which fleshes out the story so much more (speaking of flesh - hers is quite lovely!). And right from the opening shot of men around the suicide grave of Orlando's wife, as it's a RS movie, every shot is lovingly framed. There are snowflakes wafting through the air, engrained dirt on hands and under fingernails, sweaty horses heaving under blood-stained chainmail above, swords dripping red stuff like it was the Meat Counter at Tescos. The attention to detail is fabulous. The battle sequences are awesome - thousands of extras - war machines, flaming balls smashing through turrets - unbelievable stuff. The cast - especially Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Eva Green, Martin Csokas and Jeremy Irons - all surround Orlando with superb back-up. Liam Neeson in particular is fantastic.

On the downside though, and this may seem odd after all the praise, somehow Kingdom of Heaven just doesn't float the boat so much like Gladiator did. It's difficult to describe why, but something is missing. Unfairly Bloom got blamed for this - I don't think so - he's very, very good in it. It's just a shame it somehow doesn't grab the heart like Maximus did when clearly so much effort went into it.

The “making-of” documentaries on Disc 3 and 4 go on for hours - and are fascinating and in-depth – they make so many thrown-together DVD extras look like the utter filler crap they are. But the best bit is called “THE DOCUMENTARY” which is so long that it spreads from Disc 3 to Disc 4. It goes through the entire production of this gargantuan project – right from initial script discussions to Ridley in the editing room putting it all together. He even suggests the dialogue from the movie to go over the trailer (a suggestion they stupidly ignore). It goes into the music; the casting, the costumes, the effects, screenings of the initial cut... everything! In fact the whole process seems draining - and the people and money logistics of the production alone are mind-blowing. Then he brings it all in on budget! Unbelievable!

Is it any wonder this Director is held in such affection and awe in the industry. Ridley Scott loves film - and it shows - giving his loyal punters the goods on this exemplary 4DVD set. This is how an issue of a film should be done.

PS: How about unleashing this great film-maker on a remake of “Forbidden Planet” anyone??

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