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287 of 303 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too bad it didn't do better at the box office
I really enjoyed the theatrical cut, and now, get ready for all the nice storylines that were deleted. What you'll see on the director's cut (referenced from AICN) SPOILERS AHEAD!!:

- did you realize that the priest at the beginning is actually the half-brother of Balian (Orlando Bloom)? Their relationship is much more complicated and unpleasant in this...
Published on April 10, 2006 by Senor Zoidbergo

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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair acting....inaccurate history
Hollywood movies have never had the reputation to be historically accurate, and this movie, portraying the events surrounding the retaking of Jerusalem by the armies of Saladin, is no different. If one reads in some detail the many historical works on the Crusades (specifically the English translations) one easily sees these inaccuracies. However, the movie does respect...
Published on October 23, 2005 by Dr. Lee D. Carlson


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287 of 303 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too bad it didn't do better at the box office, April 10, 2006
This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
I really enjoyed the theatrical cut, and now, get ready for all the nice storylines that were deleted. What you'll see on the director's cut (referenced from AICN) SPOILERS AHEAD!!:

- did you realize that the priest at the beginning is actually the half-brother of Balian (Orlando Bloom)? Their relationship is much more complicated and unpleasant in this version, and we learn that Balian is in jail following his wife's death, thanks to his brother's claim that he is possessed by the devil.

- We also learn that Balian was an engineer before he became a blacksmith, that he built war machines when he was part of an army, and he's released from prison because the local lord needs Balian's help. So much more work is put into the establishment of Balian's character that by the time we actually meet him in the film now, we have a sense of who he is.

- The lord that Balian works for? Turns out, he's Neeson's brother, and when Godfrey shows up in the village, he's coming home. There's an entire scene that takes place at the castle where it's clear that his absence made it possible for his brother to take over, something that his brother doesn't want to see change. Since Godfrey has no heir, if he dies, then his new lands also become the property of the brother, something that makes more sense of the battle scenes involving Neeson and his group of soldiers.

- When Neeson goes to talk to Balian the first time, he stops at the door to the smith's shop, looking out at a particular spot. He flashes back to when he was younger, to when he was with Balian's mother, and that one moment says all we need to know about the particular paradise that Godfrey seeks and that he knows he'll never find again. It explains so much about why he would want to come and make amends and reach out to Balian. He's looking for absolution, and he figures he can find it this way, and the film shows us instead of just telling us.

- Baldwin IV is shown refusing the last sacrament from Patriarch Heraclius.

- Another major change is the re-insertion of the character of Baldwin V (who was shown in some of the trailers), here depicted as the son of Sibylla by Guy. He is portrayed as suffering from leprosy, like his uncle. His death is depicted as an act of euthanasia by his mother, using poison.

- Balian also fights a climactic duel with Guy.

- Additionally, Eva Green's role as the Queen has been expanded, and she's not there just for Orland Bloom's sexual interest.

- More insight into absolution, forgiveness, and politics in this time period.
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233 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional presentation for an exceptional film that was butchered previously, May 24, 2006
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This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
(Please note: This is for the 4 disc director's cut--for some reason this is combined with ALL versions of the movie including the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray features ONLY the first two discs of this set on one Blu-ray disc. None of the discs with extras are included as part of the package).

Sometimes longer is better particularly when you have a complex story. The theatrical version of "Kingdom of Heaven" was flawed from the beginning with significant narrative gaps that undermine the character development and the smooth momentum of the story. That's because Fox had Scott cut the film by nearly an hour deleted significant and important character development at the expense of trying to fit in more showings per theater. The result was a sprawling ambitious project that had the epic scope of "Lawrence of Arabia" without the narrative strength. Thank God for DVD. "Kingdom of Heaven: The Director's Cut" restores the material demonstrating that the original 3 hour cut was a brilliant film that played theatrical late last year after the film had bombed at the box office. The reason the film bombed was the idiotic decision to cut the film and make it shorter reducing the film's impact. While it might not have made a huge amount of money it would have done well at the box office as a prestige film AND would have deservedly been nominated for Oscars. Much of the background story is fleshed out and the relationships between the various characters are more clearly defined. "Kingdom of Heaven" is a magnificent epic film that recalls the power of David Lean's epics and allows Scott's historical drama to breath. If you've seen the theatrical cut you owe it to yourself to see this major film from a major talent.

The film is presented like the "Lord of the Rings" deluxe sets with the film spread over two discs. Featuring a beautiful anamorphic transfer this version of the film actually looks superior with less issues with digital artifacts when compared to the previous edition of the film. The 5.1 audio presentation sounds wonderful with both a 5.1 and 5.1DTS track that makes exceptional use of the format. You'll feel like you've put plopped down into the middle of the battle sequences in the action sequences and there's wonderful ambient sound effects sprinkled throughout the film even during sequences that are dialogue driven.

Special features are terrific in this set. We start off with an introduction by Scott discussing the "Director's Cut" compared to the theatrical version of the film. Featuring Scott, writer William Monahan and actor Orlando Bloom the first commentary track (it was recorded separately and pieced together) becomes a rich resource of trivia beginning with the origin of the project and how Scott and Monahan ended up working together. The second commentary track has visual effects director Wes Sewell, assistant director Adam Somner and producer Lisa Elizey discussing the technical aspects of the shoot and the challenges they faced covering everything from the use of digital and on set effects to second unit photography. The last commentary has editor Dody Dorn discussing the two different versions of the film. We also have production notes and information about the shooting of the film provided as text commentary.

The third and fourth discs have most of the supplements. Unfortunately neither has the excellent A&E documentary that was part of the two disc set so you may want to hold on to your other set if you haven't sold it already. We have "The Path to Redemption" presented in six separate parts with each running anywhere from a half hour to twenty minutes a piece covering the making of the film. The first of the three parts include text, images, early screenplay drafts and notes on the shooting of the movie. The second part has cast rehearsals covering everything from the training with the weapons to costume tests. The third of the three parts has storyboards as well as a short documentary featuring scholars discussing the accuracy of the film.

The fourth disc features the last three parts on the film and includes video shot on location, storyboard galleries and photo galleries as well as deleted/extended/alternate scenes with optional commentary by Scott and editor Dorn. There's also a section on the visual effects of the film as well as various sound elements to create the unique sound mix of the film presented in various stages. The last section features trailers, TV spots, the Showest presentation. There's also footage from various premieres around the world, poster galleries, footage of the press junket shot on video, image and poster galleries as well as a brief featurette similar to the one done for "Gladiator: The Extended Version" that discussed the creation of this special edition.

An exceptional film that was badly butchered by Fox prior to its premiere due to skittish leadership at Fox, the film has finally been presented the way it should have been in the first place. Fox DVD has done an exceptional job in putting together this package and has made amends for the way it handled the film when it was released theatrical last year. Highly recommended.
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268 of 312 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wait for it, September 16, 2005
By 
UPDATE: I originally wrote the following because of the notice that there would be an eventual extended edition of the movie. The update is that Amazon.com now has a listing for said extended edition that comes in at 191 minutes and is to be released on 23 May 2006.

I wrote a review for the theatrical release of this film which I will post below if you are curious what I think. I really wanted to just point out that if you enjoyed this film, you might not want to purchase this version. Back when the movie was first released in theatres, Ridley Scott was interviewed and stated that there was almost an hour taken from the movie. He also said there would be a director's cut that would have that material restored. Its not being released now, presumably, so that the studios can get their double dip. Look at Sin City (the "longer extended cut" comes out in December 3 months from its original release date) or Saw which is coming unrated this month to support the sequel. It happens all the time.

Overall, I think the film is decent and I am curious to see what was cut out. I just don't want people who are interested to waste their hard-earned dollars because the studio wants to double dip. Take what I'm saying as a grain of salt because things can change and I'm no "insider" so I can't say for absolute certainty that they will release the director's cut, but there is an interview out there with Scott about the director's cut. So, my recommendation (take it for what you will)? If you enjoyed the movie but wanted more, wait for the inevitable directors cut :)

For those interested, my original review for the theatrical release is pasted below:

When epic films come out, people usually fall into two categories without even seeing the movie: they are excited to see it or they roll their eyes and yawn. I happen to fall into the first category. Epic historical war films like Gladiator, Troy and now Kingdom of Heaven (just to name a few) are a lot of fun to me. There's nothing like seeing boulders of flames lighting the night sky as they explode into castle towers, etc.

From what I've gathered through the media and through friends of mine who are history buffs, the film is pretty accurate as far as movie epics goes; I am not a history buff so I couldn't tell you. Ridley Scott does a good job of mixing fictional (Orlando Bloom's Balian) and historical (The leper king, played by Edward Norton in an excellently subdued role). Complimenting the battle sequences is a rousing score by Harry Gregson-Williams who has done everything from the video game Metal Gear Solid 2 to Shrek. They also sample a song from the Prayer Cycle by Johnathan Elias which is achingly beautiful. Overall the sound fits the theme and the time period admirably well.

The story is pretty standard epic film stuff. You have the unwitting hero, the possible love interest, the possible love interest's evil husband, all engulfed in the massive Crusades that are tearing apart Jerusalem. One thing I am glad for is that I feel Ridley Scott and screenwriter William Monahan did a more accurate portrayal of the Crusades by showing not only the religious side of events but also the socio-political and economical themes that pushed the war forward.

I think Orlando Bloom has been criticized perhaps too strongly in this movie. Most professional reviews comment that he is too "pretty boy" for the role. It's almost as if critics are trying to pigeon hole him and type cast him into that role. I'm not trying to defend Orlando Bloom, but it never really struck me as the "fish out of water" character casting that professional critics are demanding it is. Sure, he relied on the look of a puppy dog who's lost his best friend a little much, and yeah he has that "pretty boy" look I suppose but come on, if you don't allow someone to do something different, you're just reinforcing his type cast which leads to a vicious cycle.

You might feel that even though the movie is a good 2 hours and 25 minutes that it felt like something was missing. And, that's probably because something was missing, about 80 more minutes. In an interview with Ridley Scott, he mentioned that the theatrical cut is not his cut and that he was planning on releasing a directors cut on DVD that encompasses an amazing 220 minutes. I suppose the production company decided they didn't want to have an almost 4 hour movie in the theatres right now and so decided to chop sometime off, but according to reports with Ridley Scott that's not what he wanted to happen exactly.

Going with the cuts and the story, I think part of what was left out might have been more of Saladin's point of view. It seemed as if the movie wanted to show both sides as there were moments were we saw dissent on the Arab side as well as a hint of some motives. I'm hoping that this was something we'll see more of in the DVD cut because it creates a better picture of just what was going on.

I would like to say that it would be better to catch this on DVD so one could see the movie in its entirety, but fans of this genre know that the best place to see these movies is in the theatre. Just know that when it comes out on DVD it will be more complete. It's a pretty good epic film. There were some nice fighting sequences and the final siege of Jerusalem leading up to the climax was stunning. Personally I enjoyed it much more than Troy and Alexander of last year. It might not live up to Ridley Scott's Gladiator right now, but come DVD it has a chance I think.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Better Movie (a better world?), November 3, 2006
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This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
I believe that if this version of the movie had reached the theaters, it would have ranked with GLADIATOR (Scott's Academy Award Winning Movie). Other reviewers have said that it's a different movie and I absolutely agree so I won't belabor that. Read their reviews because they said it better than I will.

The movie moguls who carved up KINGDOM OF HEAVEN need to have their heads (metaphorically) put on a pike in front of the studio. The director's cut deserves very high marks. I own the theatrical release and it was good (maybe a B or a B+) The director's cut gets an A in my book.

Ok, I'm cheap. I didn't want to spend more money to buy another version of Kingdom of Heaven because I did enjoy the theatrical release and bought the movie. A friend recommended I buy this version (Director's Cut) and I have thanked him for the advice because I had the opportunity (after buying this version) of watching a balanced, developed, thoughtful movie where the characters were developed, where their actions made sense.

Very highly recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concerning the Director's Cut, May 24, 2006
This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Let me preface by saying that I enjoyed the original cut, but I sensed that there was something missing, and I ended up forcing myself to like it more than I really did. I read several reviews of the Director's Cut from several critics who did not like the theatrical cut, and these men agreed. The Director's cut is something special.

They are absolutely correct.

If the FOX executives hadn't run their ignorant fingers over this film, it would have gotten the production budget back plus some, and probably netted Ridley Scott at least another Oscar nomination. And the director's cut would've been my favorite film of 2005, hands down. It really is that wonderful.

The film reaches out and grabs you in a way the theatrical cut could not. The characters are now rich and full and several of the plot points carry more weight because they've been given greater context. Because the director's cut doesn't mean an extra 5 seconds of nudity and 3 minutes more of gore they had to cut out to get an R rating. In this case, it's an entire 45 minutes of subplots and characterization, because for whatever reason, FOX executives decided those weren't the reason people were going to see this movie. (And for the record, there is a bit more bloodspray, but nothing extravagantly violent. Still not a movie for the kiddies.)

In short, if you've seen the theatrical cut, at least give the director's cut a rental. If you liked the theatrical cut, then you must see this version to see what Ridley Scott truly wanted. And if you haven't seen this film yet, do not see any other version but the director's cut.

Oh, and the fact that it's a 4 disc set and the extras are also highly informative and entertaining helps quite a bit.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing authoring job, December 7, 2006
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As I've done for the other Blu-Ray discs I own, I'm going to skip writing a review of the movie myself and instead focus on the Blu-Ray disc and quality it brings to the table.

As far as the movie goes, I really enjoyed it. A well told story, great acting and scenery to die for, even on the DVD version.

It should be noted for those that are fans of one codec over another, this disc was done using MPEG-2 compression. The majority of the Blu-Ray discs I own are actually. This is easily the best authored of all the MPEG-2 discs I own.

The video quality is jaw dropping gorgeous. The HD content authored properly affords a level of clarity rivaled by nothing out there (probably goes for HD-DVD as well, though KoH isn't on HD-DVD). Fox has given us something that we can drop into the player and show off to friends and let them see the real difference between HD and SD. There are instances of film grain in things such as the sky, but this is minimal and given it's film origins, is acceptable for me at least. The only movies that shouldn't suffer this problem would be movies filmed/recorded on a digital medium. Colors are vibrant and gorgeous. Being able to see details on a horse that is running up from the far off distance when the same scene on DVD you can basically tell the horse's color and larger details, really makes the difference between HD and SD apparent.

The audio on this disc is nothing short of amazing. It's mastered in DTS-MA. I don't currently own a receiver that can decode this stream internally so my setup is converting to LPCM. It still sounds amazing and the level of clarity is miles above DTS from DVD.

Over all, while this particular Blu Ray disc is more expensive than similar releases from other studios, the authoring of the disc is of the highest quality. If you're looking for a good story and also something to show off the power of your HD setup, you can't go wrong with KoH.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Director's Cut: A Totally Different Film, October 25, 2006
By 
CGC (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Is this even the same film? It's criminal what was done in the theatrical cut. Add back in almost an hour of material and it goes from a choppy, fitfully introspective swords & sandals movie to a cohesive, deeply introspective, more historically accurate masterpiece. Well, almost a masterpiece. Give it about an A-.

***VERY MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW***

It isn't just that a few scenes were extended. This is a fundamentally different film. The most obvious change is that the theatrical cut chops out the entire presence of Baldwin V, a child who inherits Baldin IV's throne for a brief time before everything goes down the tubes. I remember being confused when I looked at my history books by the fact that there was a Baldwin V recorded, and then dismissing the entire film as make believe. Not so the Director's Cut. The DVD Special Features include material documenting the historical facts on which the film is based.

Baldwin V is key not just because the history is now approximately correct, but because it develops the character of Sibylla (Eva Green), whose actions make no sense whatsoever in the theatrical release. The Director's Cut now shows why she does what she does. It also gives us a little more Baldwin IV, who is by far the most interesting character in the film. And it establishes that Balian and Sibylla have a lot more than a one night stand. Hard as it may be to believe, this cut even rescues Orlando Bloom's performance (partially, anyway). He wasn't trying to be an action hero at all, and the movie now establishes at the beginning why he's a guy who doesn't speak much. (Balian's history is of course invented, other than the fact that there was a Balian who defended Jerusalem as you see in the film and under the circumstances you see in the film.)

Motivations make sense. Relationships make sense. Everything makes sense.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theatrical edits happen all the time..., August 1, 2007
By 
Tripp Lilley (Atlanta, GA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Theatrical edits happen all the time, the result often being that we feel a little lost. The story might make an abrupt jump from scene A to scene D, skipping B and C because those scenes just didn't make it into the time budget.

In most cases, I wait to buy the extended version or Director's Cut for that very reason. In this case, though, I'm glad I bought both. Together, they let me see what I believe is the most masterful theatrical edit ever done.

When you watch the Director's Cut, you'll discover a story arc completely left out in the theatrical release. It's not a trivial, throwaway story, either. It's absolutely critical to understanding the context and motivation for Guy de Lusignan's machinations and his obsession with marrying Sibylla.

That the story fell out in the edits does not surprise me. I am awed, though, by how surgically Scott handled things without leaving a glaring hole in the film. He stitched together dialogue, scenes, and transitions seamlessly, removing a line's original meaning while twisting it in the edit, bridging a gap so solidly that you don't notice its absence.

Even -after- watching the Director's Cut, I go back to the theatrical release and see it as its own movie, not just an incomplete, botched studio edit.

If you are only willing to buy one copy of this movie, buy the Director's Cut, by all means. It is worth every dime, and then some. If you're a student of film (amateur or professional, either one,) then I -urge- you to buy both and study them as an exemplar of the "graceful degradation" concept applied to cinema.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Extened Edition, the TRUE version of KoH, May 24, 2006
By 
This review is from: Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
The orginal version of Kingdom of Heaven was mabey a 3-star film with poor character devoplment, choppy pasing and numerous other problems.

The theatrical version was a good film.

The extened edition is a great film.

There were entire sub-plots in the extened editon that help the story and characters come alive. The drama is better, the romance is better, all of the major characters have more screen time and the pacing is MUCH better.

Don't judge the film by the theatrical version, THIS IS Kingdom of Heaven.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the modern epic SHOULD be!, October 14, 2005
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Kingdom of heaven comes from Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator and Blackhawk Down. The movie is a historic epic of the highest caliber filled with a fantastic score, breath-taking visuals, great acting, and a beautiful and very relevant story-line.

The film covers the fall of the Latin crusader kingdom of Jerusalem to the Saracens. The capture of Jerusalem by the legendary Muslim general Salah ad-Din; better known to the west as "Saladin". The backdrop of this tumultuous time in history serves well to produce a dramatic and passionate look at events that still affect us to this day. We are treated to fabulous recreations of the holy city as well as some of the biggest scenes (battles and otherwise) I've ever seen in a movie.

At its heart though, Kingdom of Heaven is a small personal story within the context of huge events. It is a very human tale, as Balian(Orlando Bloom), a young blacksmith who recently lost his wife struggles to find meaning, redemption, and a new beginning. His faith shattered, he decides to go to the holy land with his newfound father who shows up unexpectedly. In Jerusalem this one-time blacksmith finds the "kingdom of heaven" to be within himself in his own deeds and choices and plays a crucial role in events so much larger than himself.

Balian serves the King of Jerusalem, a wise and tolerant man who knows that peace with Saladin is not only practical (as they are outnumbered) but also his moral duty. The king struggles to control fanatics like the Knights Templar lead by Guy De Leon, a man hungry for glory, power, and riches; as well as renegades like the mad Raynold, who is bloodthirsty and genocidal. The movie depicts the sad truth of historical fact, such as catholic priests preaching that "to kill an infidel (Muslim) is not murder, it is the path to heaven".

Saladin, a wise and enlightened ruler has united the Arabs into a single force through his political and military prowess. Saladin himself is a quite tolerant man, and both him and the King of Jerusalem maintain an uneasy peace while religious zealots on both side cry out for blood. With the King's death, crusader renegades succeed in provoking war by attacking a Muslim caravan and killing Saladin's own sister (historically factual). Saladin marches his vast army against the outnumbered and surrounded Christians, who arrogantly and blindly march out to meet him and are annihilated. Balian now is left to defend Jerusalem against an army bent on revenge not just for this recent insult but for the slaughter of Jerusalem's Muslims by the army of the first crusade. Balian's only hope is to defend the city so fervently that magnanimous Saladin might be forced to terms, whereby he can negotiate for clemency.

I think they struck the balance between history and Hollywood perfect. The story is by and large, historically accurate. While some characters such as Balian, were fictionalized in trivial ways to fit with the storyline, the larger events as well as the atmosphere itself is wonderfully portrayed. The movie over-all tells a much greater truth, exploring the role of religion and symbolism in human conflict, the constant struggle between tolerance and intolerance, and how each of us can make a difference within all of it in our own choices and attitudes.

The special effects are top notch and the cinematography is absolutely excellent. Kingdom of heaven has some of the finest camera work of any movie, and adds to the terrific script and intelligent dialogue. Every dimension of this movie, from the source material, to the script, to the wardrobe and sets, to the special effects and score, to the acting is draped in excellence befitting such a complex tale. Some might not "get" this movie because there are no real "good guys". No one side is in the right, rather the forces of tolerance are at odds with fanaticism, and when the fanatics win out, it is up to good men of honor to try and protect the innocent bystanders in the wake of a war in which each side felt it was doing the will of God. But within that larger story is the story of one simple man, who on a pilgrimage to absolve his sins finds answers to questions about life and managed to do great things and find for himself a new beginning through helping the defenseless and seeing the world through clearer eyes. And at the end, even though the cycle of violence and tragedy to be only just beginning (and still is today), he is able to start his life anew, and presumably is able to live his life in peace with the knowledge that the kingdom of heaven is within us all. To any that love huge, passionate, explorative films that respect the complexities of the real world instead of giving in to the Hollywood urge to tell only one side of a story, give this movie a look! And to anyone looking for a wonderfully-crafted modern epic filled with action, intelligence, and a meaningful commentary on the motivations that drive men to fight, then this movie is also for you.

The DVD includes excellent features, including production notes, interviews, making of material, a trailer, and most importantly TWO documentaries pertaining to the historical accuracy of the film (History vs. Hollywood, and A&E Movie Real) which compliment the movie terrifically. In these times we now live, we more than ever need to look back to this period in order to better understand the continuation of conflict that persists not only in Jerusalem, but between western and Islamic culture in general. There is also a very nice feature that pops up information bubbles during the movie pointing out production decisions relevant to, and/or historical gripes and points about, that particular scene.
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Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut (Four-Disc Special Edition)
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