Kingdom of Heaven / Boogeyman

movie review:

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Taking into account the epic films that have come onto the screen recently:

There is the Battle, The Siege, the brief love interest, and these days there has to be Orlando Bloom.

Watching the trailers of Kingdom of Heaven you’d wonder how a guy built like a matchbox could bear the burden of being the hero of an epic war movie…but here, Orlando just about manages.

Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith in France, is acknowledged as son and knighted by his dying father Godfrey (Liam Neeson). He makes his way to Jerusalem, the holy city of the title to serve King Baldwin (Edward Norton) and claim his fathers land. He meets the king and the leaders of the knight orders who had known his father. He witnesses the hanging of several knights Templars, punished for killing Arab lords and disturbing the uneasy truce between the Christians and the Moslems. There is also strife within the walls of Jerusalem. The leper king hasn’t much time left. The war-thirsty Templar knights are eagerly awaiting his death so their leader Guy de Lusignan (Marton Csokas), husband of the kings’ sister, can access the throne and wage war on the Moslems in the name of God and Glory. On the other side is the king’s military advisor, Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), who is trying to avoid the battle that might obliterate their armed forces. On his deathbed King Baldwin proposes Balian marry his sister Sibylla and become king. Balian refuses the offer because it would be a matter of “selling his soul”. If he had accepted the entire mess could have been avoided, but then there would be no story to tell.

So the king does pop off, and the bloodthirsty knights slaughter enough of Saladin’s people to goad him into battle, which they lose miserably. This leaves Balian and a bunch of knights to defend the city of Jerusalem.

Sibylla (Eva Green), is of as much use as were the women in Gladiator, Troy, Alexander..lets face it, that’s about all the presence they’ll ever have in historical dramas. She blames herself for the battle and the siege; even chops off her hair towards the end. Stress I guess. You know she and Balian are going to get together because they’re making eyes at each other in the beginning itself.

For obvious reasons, this movie has run into its own share of trouble. If you might ask anyone with a fair amount of knowledge of the Crusades about a blacksmiths’ role in the middle of all this, you’d probably be greeted with an expression of perplexity. But that’s precisely what is Ridley Scott’s intention, to bring to light the deeds of a man who wanted little to do with fame or glory, and regarded saving the lives of innocents within the walls of the city a greater victory than winning the battle, and hold up an ideal that hadn’t been explored in Crusade renditions before. Orlando is even offered a princess on a plate, but he refuses. Here's to treading the long and narrow.

Some critics have said that the movie shows the Moslems in bad light, which is a load of rubbish. The enemy Saracen leader, Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) is shown as a very reasonable guy. You’ve got enemy leaders sizing each other up and there are shows of mutual respect. Saladin even offers to send King Baldwin his own physicians to treat his leprosy. All in all very politically correct.Zz.

The Crusades is praised as a time of heroic battles (11th to 13th century), the most romanticized stories would be of Richard the Lionheart, who makes an appearance towards the end, to establish continuity to the battle. The third crusade was a sincere effort to retrieve Jerusalem from the Moslems, before the excuse for plundering and murder that the crusades eventually became.

The epilogue says that the same area is as strife ridden as it was then, an attempt on Scott’s part to imply that we haven’t learnt from history and the east and west are still fighting tooth and nail over their religious dogmas, besides wealth and power.

The movie is full of philosophical one-liners and rejoinders. The siege scene is quite beautifully done and worth watching the movie for. Too bad Edward Norton had to hide behind a mask. Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons make their presence felt, their brief roles regardless. Orlando, well, his expressionless face at the worst of times could be mistaken for maturity and hardiness, and I believe it’s the one thing that saves him here.


Boogeyman (2005)

Directed by Stephen T. Kay

Produced by Sam Raimi

Possibly every kid has grown up with a Monster Under the Bed Syndrome. Afraid of being left alone in the night incase a creepy-crawly drags him into the darkest recesses of the room and whisks him off to the hell dimension from whence it came, or may be just chomps him up and spits out his guts; to be seen early next morning by parents who should have known better than to leave their kid in the dark with the door shut.

Well, parents use these irrational fears to encourage good behaviour in their children; except little Timmy took Dads story so seriously that his imagination actually took form and swallowed Dad into the closet, right in front of his eyes.

After years of therapy to convince him that these events never took place, Timmy (Barry Watson) is now a young adult and still afraid of dark enclosed spaces. He has a girlfriend who is trying to convince her family that he’s not the messed up loser he looks like. He spends the night at her place, where he gets the second scare of his life. You would too if you thought the girlfriend who you were going to make out with is actually the corpse of your mom. Anyways, it’s only a nightmare (whew). He then receives a phone call that informs him his mom is actually dead. Apt reason to go back to his hometown and face his childhood fears. He never actually recovered from them, his apartment in town had all the internal doors removed and stacked up. Even his refrigerator door was made of glass.

On the drive to his old home, a raven crashes into Timmy’s windshield, possibly an Omen that predicts Impending Doom. After spending sometime in the house Timmy is haunted by the ghosts of the Boogeyman’s victims, he realizes that the Boogeyman is still out there and out to get those dear to him, his girlfriend Jessica (Tory Mussett), his Uncle Mike (Philip Gordon) and his childhood friend Kate (Emily Deschanel). All of whom would be of as much use to the plot if they were 70’s Bond girls in thongs.

Meanwhile we catch glimpses of the blue-tinged, red-eyed boogeyman. Horror film directors had figured a long time ago the more obscure the monster is the better it inspires fear in the audience. Unfortunately here it is combined with the sort of soundtrack that jolts you out of your seat instead of really getting you to squirm in it and build terror. In the end when the Boogeyman is finally revealed and he looks like a gangrenous, skeletal version of one of the Blue Man Group, combined with whirlwinds and hurling detritus. Did he look like he was capable of tossing around a matchbox and chewing it up?-Yes, definitely.

What is sad is that the material was great to begin with, because of the myths that have been lodged inside people’s minds over generations about the mystery and evil that represents the Boogeyman. What is even sadder is, that the movie is produced by Sam Raimi who is the man behind Spiderman 2 (2004), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) (co-writer) and the Army of Darkness (1993). Sam Raimi as a director has proved to have a wicked sense of humour. Well, the Boogeyman is laughable, but only because of how lame it is. The camera acrobatics was appreciated, though.

-rhea daniel


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