Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Knight, Bad Plot; Ridley Scott's Battle Scenes Save Epic - Just

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Knight, Bad Plot; Ridley Scott's Battle Scenes Save Epic - Just

Article excerpt

Byline: DEREK MALCOLM

Kingdom Of Heaven

Cert 15, 145 mins ***

SIR RIDLEY SCOTT is a brilliant filmmaker, capable of turning many a sow's ear into a beautiful silk purse.

He's also very good at battle scenes. But you do sometimes wonder what, if anything, he's got on his mind.

This time, he concerns himself with the fight for the kingdom of heaven, as exemplified by Jerusalem during the crusades.

He presents it as a simple tale of good and evil, in which Christians comfortably outdo Muslims as Satan's helpmeets.

But there is a complication.

The biggest battle is between two goodies: the Christian knight Balian (Orlando Bloom), who believes God has deserted him because he killed a priest who mocked the memory of his dead wife, and the impossibly noble Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), the Muslim leader who fights him for the control of Jerusalem.

Between them, the pair manage to kill hundreds, if not thousands, before coming to a merciful arrangement whereby the Muslims get the city and the Christians go free. It is clear that Scott does not think a lot of religion, especially of the fundamentalist variety.

He has peppered his quasihistorical tale with all sorts of signals that the crusades were a formidably wasteful way of pleasing God.

In this sense, Kingdom Of Heaven is a rather upmarket epic, trying to see both sides of the argument while giving us as much blood and thunder as possible on the way.

The result is undoubtedly better than Troy, Arthur or Alexander, but one does question whether the plot twists and turns will be appreciated by those who like a more obvious storyline with their spectacle.

Gladiator this is not.

SHORT FLICKS

Palindromes

Cert 15, 100mins .....

Todd Solondz films are always about the worm in the bud of American society.

He's consistently pessimistic but cheerful with it. Palindromes is about Aviva (played by Rachel Korr, pictured with John Gemberling), a New Jersey girl forced by her parents into an abortion. She then goes on a road trip that ends up at a community for rescued children. Solondz casts eight different actors of contrasting ages, genders and races to play Aviva. …

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