2005 Running time: 144 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Ridley Scott's brings his trademark visual flair to this historical blockbuster based around the Crusades and gives Orlando Bloom his first major leading role as a blacksmith who becomes a battling defender of Jerusalem. Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson bring old school gravitas and Eva Green the romantic interest, but the epic battle scenes are the movie's dominant driving force.

Director

  • Ridley Scott

Cast

  • Orlando Bloom

  • Liam Neeson

  • Jeremy Irons

  • Eva Green

  • Brendan Gleeson

  • David Thewlis

  • Marton Csokas

Review

Director Ridley Scott turns his attention to the Crusades after dabbling in modern day Africa (Black Hawk Down) and ancient Rome (Gladiator).

Carrying the burden of the big-budget, high-end special effects extravaganza is Orlando Bloom, whose previous lead role was the low-budget Brit pic The Calcium Kid.

As you might expect from Scott, it's a visual treat, with the gore-splattered pitched battle setpieces an accomplished exercise in gore and lyricism.

But the raw emotion of the revenge story that fired Gladiator is missing from a movie that - although stirring - rarely engages the emotions.

Bloom plays a widowed French blacksmith - Balian - tempted out his empty home with the appearance of his father, Godfrey of Ibelin (Neeson).

He's no pushover - "I once fought for two days with an arrow through my testicle" - and gets sterling support from sword-wielding priest, David Thewlis.

A highly regarded ally of the king of Jerusalem, Godfrey tempts Balian - an honourable man of almost saintly conscience - to join him on a trip to the Holy Land.

Trouble is brewing with the devious leader of the Templar Knights - Guy de Lusignan (Marton Czokas) - determined to provoke all-out war with the Saracens.

Just to complicate matters, Guy's wife, Princess Sybilla, (Eva Green) only has (heavily kohled) eyes for goody two swords, Balian.

Bloom - although a rougher, tougher prospect than his Legolas the elf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy - doesn't have the brooding macho of Russell Crowe.

It also seems a remarkably tolerant time - Christians, Muslims and Jews live happily together in Jerusalem despite the best efforts of dodgy Guy. And he's French.

Indeed, all creeds and races seem happy to give each other the benefit of the doubt and fight shy of plunging a broadsword into your head just for the hell of it.

Where Scott does score highly is the distinctly un-Hollywood direction the plot takes, neatly sidestepping the sort of flag-waving nonsense that has marred other historical sagas.

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