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Friday, May 06, 2005
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVE

The good news is, the Kingdom of God has nothing to fear from Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. Probing new depths in tedium, Kingdom is an over-produced piece of pretentious politically-correct pablum.

Honestly, the first time I looked at my watch, it was only about fifteen minutes into the movie. "Allah forbid," I groaned, as a character we had just met a couple minutes before and didn't care about, got an arrow shot through his forehead.

About ten minutes later, as the main character was being insulted for no discernible reason by an obnoxious French guy named Guy, I looked at my watch for the second time and, then, a minatar went off in my brain, "Why not depart this Kingdom and set out on a crusade throughout the other theaters seeking out some good filmmaking?"

Ah! Infidel Scott! How dare you expect to create sympathy for your main character by having him murder a priest, even a bad one? And the stupid speech-making! I remembered, as the leper king with the tin transvestite mask was making a long boring speech to Orlando I'm So Bloomin' Earnest, that Ridley Scott always puts long boring speeches in his films because he is a baaaaaaaaaaad director who can't achieve real emotion no matter how much budget he has to spend. Even in his best film, Blade Runner the sociopathic android pauses in his dying to devolve into a ten-minute seminar on personhood and property law.

You know it's a bad movie, when you see saracens praying on their prayer rugs, and you start wishing you had one to sprawl out on somewhere on the theater floor...I ended up on a pilgrimage to parking garage Mecca at about the one hour point. After the first 20 minutes, I was only hanging around so that I could proclaim to the far winds with authority, "Behold, my brethren! The Kingdom doth sucketh with inglorious awfulness!" Then, I decided, wasting another 125 minutes of my life in this cause would be inflicting fatwa on myself. So, I commited the mother of all theater exits.

But, let's cutteth to the quicketh... The underlying theme of Kingdom of Heaven is that religions are fine - as long as they are personal coping devices that do not invade the parameters of the polis. The bad guys in the film are religious "fanatics". The problem is that fanaticism is defined as being anyone who thinks that God is engaged in what men do together as a society. Against the rallying cry of the Crusaders "God Wills It!" (and, I suppose, the un-voiced rallying cry of the people of the religion of peace: "To the Airplanes!") ridley Scott et al, respond with their own manic shout, "Religion is a Private Matter!"

There was so much wrong with this movie, it won't take any kind of outraged crusade by the People of God to have it purged. This film will fall under its own self-righteous, badly written weight.

Pass. The God of good cinema wills it.