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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven Review

Ok, went and saw the movie yesterday, in which what i have to say was a crowded theater. That movie is garnering a lot of interest and hitting a lot of nerves, probably because of the topic it deals with ( christian & muslim conflict over middle-eastern land). I wanted to see it cause 1) It looked awesome visually, 2) I felt Ridley Scott owed me an apology for the over-hyped shitty B movie that was Gladiator (no one still can explain to me why the emperor didn't just send some people to kill maximus) and 3) Eva Green is HOT HOT HOT and her hotness is multiplied by a 100x in her arabian night seductress outfits that she kept wearing in the movie. So, yeah, had to go see it and i am glad to say that i am not disappointed, well , for the most part anyway. The movie is pretty good, and the Battle scenes are excellent, so that's good, but the acting was a mixed bag. Orlando Bloom is playing someone who is equal parts of his Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean Characters ( Blacksmith, badass in battle), if you can manage to take all the humor out of them and make them just sneer 99% of the time. I am kind of annoyed that this is his like 6th historical epic in a row, and I wonder if I can ever see him in a movie wearing a suit or something and be OK with it. Eva Green is just beautiful to look at, although I can’t figure out her character or her motives or why she describes herself as “unpredictable”. The only unpredictable thing she did was going over Bloom’s character’s house to sleep with him after only talking 4 sentences with him previously, and last time I checked that was just plain slutty behavior, u know? Maybe she is unpredictable cause she is a slutty princess? Hmm… But the person that steals the movie hands down is Ghassan Massoud, who plays Salaheldeen. The man has clint-eastwood-like badass presence and steals every scene he is in and for once it was nice to have a good Arab muslim character on screen, you know, someone who isn’t a terrorist. Massoud’s only competition is Edward Norton who plays the Leper King of Jerusalem. They are both incredibly unpredictable and entertaining when they are on screen and you can’t help but like them. Jeremy Irons is also awesome, because he gives his character – who is a peacekeeper in the movie- a rough subtext that is not reflected in the dialogue. You kind of get the feeling that you did not want to mess with his character when he was a little younger. He is the old and weary warrior that prefers peace but can still whoop your ass if you piss him off. So the acting was good, the directing was good, so what was bad? Ahh, the politics. Let’s talk about the politics of the movie for a minute shall we? The politics of the movie make the movie funny, because in a movie that tackles a historical subject like the viscious religious war that the crusades were, it literally walks away from talking about the religions , what they stand for or the reasons that cause them to fight one another. The movie is about a crusade fought by liberal humanists for the most part, which you have to say is kind of wack , and where religion is shown to be nothing but a tool to start wars and seize power then anything else. The men of religion in this movie- who are all Christians by the way- are either 1) vicious assholes like the priest in Bloom’s village, 2) Priests who make fun of religion like Bloom’s father’s priest, or 3) Two-faced, opportunist and cowardly, like the representative of the Catholic church who when the city is under siege asks to be escorted out cause “It’s god’s will” or when it’s time for negotiations between Bloom’s character and Salaheldeen he tells Bloom to “convert to Islam and repent later”. The whole theme: Religion- especially Christianity- is bad, we should all just be moral instead, clergymen are not good representatives for their religions, Muslim and Christians have more in common then they think and if we just weed out the fanatics- or anyone who takes religion too seriously- we would all live in peace, and finally Jerusalem probably should be destroyed- they actually joke about it- so that people should stop going crazy and fighting over it. That’s the moral of the movie in a nutshell. Either way, go see it. It’s a beautifully shot movie and quite enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously. The movie is bound to make strict Christians mad and moderate Muslims happy, while the Jews will wonder how come they are not represented at all in the movie or in the city ( They suffer the same fate black people suffered in Friends’ New York City, they vanish from the city completely). Don’t try to read too much into it, enjoy the beauty that is Eva Green and poetic fireball destruction that only Ridley Scott can deliver instead. Ok?


At 5/07/2005 05:38:00 AM, Blogger BP said...

I loved the movie too. I agree with your political analysis. I couldn't help but think how people who think that they have the "religious" high ground manipulate others for their own political self interests. And how forcing your own interpretation of religion on others is not a very cool thing to do. This sheds light on what we are facing today.
I was expecting an epic full of blood and swords. It turned out to be a movie for peace even if it was about one of the church's most darkest periods.

At 5/07/2005 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Rosebuds said...

"The whole theme: Religion- especially Christianity- is bad, we should all just be moral instead, clergymen are not good representatives for their religions, Muslim and Christians have more in common then they think and if we just weed out the fanatics- or anyone who takes religion too seriously- we would all live in peace, and finally Jerusalem probably should be destroyed- they actually joke about it- so that people should stop going crazy and fighting over it."

Well if this is the theme of the movie then I am going to love it...theorectically at least I have always believed nuking Jerusalem so no one can go there for thousands of years and that all religious fanatics are the root of most of the evil on this planet. Can't wait to see it.

At 5/07/2005 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

I'll see it eventually because it is supposed to visually stunning. I know not to get my history from the movies but I do like it when there is some semblance of accuracy, and from what I've heard this has none.

At 5/07/2005 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Hey, Sandmonkey. I thought Saladin was a Kurd, not an Arab.

Ya, I know. Picky. Picky.

I like historical movies too but only if they are reasonably accurate and make a reasonable attempt to leave 20th/21st century values out of it. If it deals with the middle ages, it should attempt to show how folks back then thought about things.

This sounds like revisionist history with a little bit of PC thrown in for good measure.

At 5/07/2005 12:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Khaled El Naboui's role. I heard he is in the cast. I haven't seen the movie yet but Know that Khaled (El masir) is a great actor.


At 5/07/2005 12:48:00 PM, Blogger egyptiansally said...

this is a really good summation of the movie. i couldn't stop laughing when the corrupt priest said "convert to islam, repent later."
but eva green hot? seriously?

louise, what specific historical movies have you seen that are not revisionist?

FK: i thought khaled el naboui was okay, but not stellar. that could just be because he only appeared with ghassan massoud who is such a presence on-screen.... i guess perhaps orlando bloom's failure is also due to the fact that he was cast with liam neeson, jeremy irons, and edward norton.

At 5/07/2005 02:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw the movie last night, too. I found it entertaining. (I like history & war movies, so for a girl I can say I liked the fighting and all.)

But the more I thought about it I felt like there was still so much that wasn't captured in the movie. I mean, its a movie so they can only do so much with such a huge topic. But the one part that super bugged me was when Orlando Bloom (sorry cant remember the character's name) asks Saladeem what Jerusalem is worth. Ok that is a lame question to begin with. Then Saladeem say's "nothing." As if! I was sitting in my seat saying "it's worth EVERYTHING!" Then he said it. I dunno what that was about. Other than that I enjoyed it.

At 5/07/2005 03:21:00 PM, Blogger Louise said...

egyptiansally: "louise, what specific historical movies have you seen that are not revisionist?"

Good question. I can think of a few based on real historical characters or events that I've seen that may have taken some creative license, but were still pretty accurate.

Then there are some based on historical fiction, rather than real people and real events, but nonetheless accurate portray the times they depict.

For example:

The Agony and the Ecstacy
Black Robe
Bridge on the River Kwai
Dr. Zhivago
Elephant Man
Fat Man and Little Boy
Gone With the Wind
Inherit the Wind
In the Name of the Father
The Killing Fields
The Lion in Winter
Miss Evers' Boys
Mississippi Burning
The Miracle Worker
Mrs. Miniver
A Passage to India
Schindler's List
Voyage of the Damned

These are ones that I have seen, anyway. There may be others. I've also seen ones that are just revisionist, PC propaganda or "Rah! Rah! Aren't We the Perfect Ones" heroics.

Well, you asked, didn't you. :-)

At 5/07/2005 03:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is off topic but I was wondering if people in the "Middle East" call it the Middle East? Also, is there any relationship between the country Turkey and the bird?


At 5/07/2005 06:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, it was the Catholic Crusades if people want to be accurate, especially considering all the Christians the Catholic Crusades slaughtered. Sorry, my pet peeve for the day; okay, fine, everyday.

What I need to know is, "Are any of the guys in the movie hot?" Seems to me, this should have been your first prioritized topic in your movie screening - what about your female audience, eh! Geeze!


At 5/07/2005 09:18:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

This movie shows the golden age of Islam and the dark age of the church. Salah El Din stole every scene he was in. Bravo Ghassan Massoud!.

I find Salaheldin in this movie is the exact Salaheldin in history. The respectful, forgiving and peaceful.

Khaled El Nabawy's role was small but done very well. Key lines like "Bring back Jerusalem" and "Allah We Akbar" was forceful.

Now for Orland Bloom, I actually like his role because I'm sick and tired of those big men with huge body muscles that seem so unreal. The role of Bloom stems from intellect and wisdom not king kong kind of power.

Eva's role is terrible I would rate her F- I would like to see Cate Blanchett in this role.

Also I find the script not as good as expected

At 5/07/2005 09:23:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

Mike and Joanne,

You sound like a perfect couple :)

At 5/08/2005 12:30:00 AM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

I like that review Sam.

I think I'll wait for a week or so till the theaters are less crowded to go see it.

At 5/08/2005 07:07:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Rancher: I wish everyone was like you. I personally know some egyptian kids who totally believe that the pyramids was built by aliens after watching Stargate.

Louise: you couldn't let a poor arab boy have his moment of joy could u?

FK: Khaled el Nabawy was useless in that movie. Useless. you could've removed him and it wouldn't have matterd at all.They didn;t give him much to work with mind you, and he did share all his screen time with massoud, so maybe it's not his fault. maybe..

Sally: Have you seen her in the dreamers? Goddamn she is hot. However, she wasn't very hot-looking in the end of the movie, after her hair was cut and she looked like a wet poodle. Hotness may be subjective, but at least you can say this: She is not- by any definition- ugly!

Kelli: Think about it. Jerusalem as a place that may be technically important to all 3 monethithic (spell??) religions, but it's more what it stands for and not the actual city.If you remove the holy sites that city is useless, and acquiring it is done for its religious and spirtual value, not for whatever riches it may have or whatever. So yeah, it may mean in some sense nothing to a conquering army- there is no added material benefit in seizing it, but it could also mean everything in terms of the spiritual value of the place. Salaheldeen was more interested in having it as a spot where all people from all religious beliefs prayed in peace and that's why- when confronted by the agression towards muslims- he had to seize it in order to keep it a place where no one gets harassed for his religious beliefs. That's my take on it anyway.

Mike: the answers to your questions are 1) yes we do and 2) NOPE. NO RELATION AT ALL!

Joanne: I understand what you mean about the diff between catholics and christians. I can see how it might irk you, since every historical injustice done in the name of christianity was committed by the catholic church in a way. me gets it.
As for the hot guys question, well, hmm. That's a tough one. I am not sure we have the same taste in men :P! But i am guessing if you don't think that Orlado Bloom, liam neeson, jeremy irons or ed norton to be hot, well, just don't go see the movie then.

Twosret: huh?

At 5/08/2005 08:12:00 AM, Blogger Twosret said...

Eih Sandmonkey? Can't say my opinion wallah eih? you don't have to agree with me :) since when we agree lol

I know that you found Eva very whatever! I didn't think so sorry lol!

At 5/08/2005 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Highlander said...

Will go and see it at the theater in London sometime in the next ten days I hope. I don't want to spoil it by watching the pirated CD (yes we already have it in Libya - unbelievable).

At 5/08/2005 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandmonkey, I was just kidding about the hot guy thing - just bugging you a little in fun.


At 5/08/2005 08:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't recall asking that question before on this blog, but if I did, I didn't read the response. If I have asked that question more than once I did not do it just to annoy you. (still though, something is lost in translation, the chance of a bird that tastes bad and makes you fall asleep and a country sharing the same name has got to be one in a million.)


At 5/09/2005 09:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is jerusalem worth to you?

Jerusalem is the kingdom of consciousness.

My very best lines.


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