Posts Tagged ‘ Liam Neeson ’

Kingdom Of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven Movie Poster

Baliam, a blacksmith, is approached by crusaders (one being his father) to join them in their quest. After first refusing to do so, certain immediate events after that refusal force him to change his mind.

He joins his father, who eventually knights him to take his place, in the few crusaders who were loyal to the king. These men’s focus is peace and honor. Something other knights, led by an evil lord, do not have or wish at all.

Baliam finds himself in the middle of feuding knights, confusing loyalties, and Jerusalem on the brink of a war with the muslims. He must choose and decide for himself, what God’s will truly is and then, stand against the men who are against God.

Things I liked

Baliam, played by Orlando Bloom, has all the qualities one would expect from a good lord and knight. He despises injustice, desires peace, is honest to the point of admitting murder, is humble and asks for forgiveness, and speaks his thoughts in a simple way. He has flaws, like all well developed characters. When a decision came that was extremely utilitarian in its purpose, he choose the one that was biblical, not otherwise. Baliam is a hero in this movie I felt good rooting for. Ultimately he is selfless in his actions and patient in his example. A true model of a good knight and lord.

The king of Jerusalem has an extreme illness that is killing him, and early on in the movie, has has a conversation with Baliam. The quotes regarding faith versus religion, convictions, and God’s will are incredibly artistic and spot on. One time the King says “You see, none of us choose are end really. A king, may move a man. A father, claim a son. But remember even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say but I was told by others to do thus. Or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice.” Baliam holds true to this quote throughout the movie.

Another instance Baliam is talking to a priest, as jerusalem is about to be invaded:

Priest: “we must flee the city on horse”

Baliam: “And what about the people?”

Priest: “It is unfortunate but it is God’s will.”

Baliam: “You’ve taught me a lot about religion priest.”

All throughout the movie we see the evil crusaders using “God’s will” as an excuse to serve their selfish desires, and ultimately, like proverbs says, they are themselves destroyed by their evil passions. We also see a clear distinction between faith in God and practicing religion, and how religion is something to be avoided and despised.

Things I didn’t like

The king has a sister, Sybilla, who likes Baliam and Baliam likes her. She is promised to marry the lead antagonist, a rude, arrogant, and generally unlikeable lord who is set to become king. She is against this, and in one scene, we see her come to baliam’s house. They kiss, and she spends the night at his house. Much is implied through that scene. While there is some remorse afterwards, it is more because of they fact they cannot marry, as opposed to the actual sin.

For those of you who don’t know, Ridley Scott directed this movie, and he is known for a violence in films that is not at all appealing. It is bloody, dirty, and at times, horrific. He does this to show the glory in war is not all that it is cracked up to be. How much we are reminded of that in this movie. I cannot begin to tell you how many people die in this movie. There is an epic battle scene near the end of the movie, much like you would see in Lord of the Rings. Blood flows, splashes, and squirts freely.

Perhaps even more disturbing however are the individual killings seen in 2-3 minute clips early on in the movie. In just anger, Baliam slaughters a preist, running a sword through the man and pushing him into the smithy where he burns to death. In a forest ambush, we see a group of a dozen men shot in the chest, neck, and heads with arrows. Some keep fighting however, while looking like bloody pincushions. We see blood flow freely here as well. In the aftermath, we see the corpses, awaiting to be buried.

Other violence includes men being hanged, heads mounted on pikes after a battle, and in one battle, a slow motion sword hack that gets a man in the neck. A peaceful Arab emissary is knifed in the head as a response to war. The evil knights kill innocent civilians…. and more. Never is this violence glorified or approved of. Much like in Lord of the Rings, it is present because evil men wish it to be and are using people to serve their purposes. It is there though, and not at all enjoyable.

Words such as B—–d, H–l (out of context) are used, and God’s name in vain are used a few times.

Closing Thoughts

“What man is a man that does not leave the world a better place?”

This is a question the Baliam asks early on in the movie. Indeed, it seems all his actions revolve around this quote, and wanting to leave the world a better place. Not because he has something to gain, but because it appears, he values his conscience being right with God.

This movie shows, in my opinion, a man who rises above the worldly and petty bickering, stands against (for the most part unless it involves girls) temptation for selfish desires, and uses his title to work in a way that will make peace. Even when everyone else turns against him. Evil, is shown for what it is, and then justly punished… And a pretty solid worldview on what God is, what people make him out to be, and a positive view on faith in God rather than religion is shown. It is a war movie with a commendable hero and a just ending.

So if you can handle the bloody and gruesome violence of war brought by the antagonist, and want a full and satisfying story… Check this one out.

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Batman Begins

“Why do we fall, Bruce?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Bats.  Ever since he was attacked by bats as a child, Bruce Wayne has been afraid of the creatures.  When actors dressed as bats appear on-stage at an opera, Bruce begs his parents to leave early.  They exit through a back door into the alley–where Bruce’s parents are robbed and murdered by a thug.  Driven by guilt and anger, Bruce waits for 14 years for his chance to kill his parent’s murderer, but someone else gets there first.

Broken and shamed, Bruce abandons his estate and wanders the world, studying the criminal mind.  But “The world is too small a place for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear,” and Bruce is discovered by a mystical group that offers to train him to fight crime.  But when Bruce learns that the group’s plan for abolishing evil involves destroying Gothem City, he must decide for himself what is the right way to achieve justice–and determine just how far he’ll go to protect his hometown.

Batman Begins tells the enthralling tale of how the Dark Knight embarked on his journey to fight evil.  It was the first “grown up” superhero movie I ever watched, and my mind is still spinning from the onslaught of this new action-packed world.  Batman Begins is a complicated film on many levels–but in a good way.  Here’s why.

The Just

The story of how Bruce was inspired to join the fight against evil is not only engaging–with a realistic set-up and a very endearing young Bruce–it’s thought-provoking.  Bruce’s family is portrayed as loving and stable; Bruce’s father, in particular, is kind, caring, and generous.  It’s Bruce’s devotion to his father that plays perfectly into his transformation into Batman, making his character transition realistic and engaging–and it also incites a lot of questions about the nature of justice.  Throughout the film, the theme of justice is expounded–and contrasted with revenge–on many levels.  Although I didn’t necessarily agree with every thought presented, the film shed light on many angles of the subject and gave me much to ponder.  It’s a film that makes you think, which makes it an excellent piece for discerning audiences.

One particularly interesting element regarding the theme of justice is Bruce’s resistance to killing his enemies.  He staunchly refuses on several occasions, instead leaving them for the police to arrest and try lawfully.  While Bruce isn’t entirely consistent with this ideal, as I’ll discuss below, it does motivate him to make on crucial and very admirable decision.  [spoiler!]  When the mystical group reveals that they want to destroy Gothem City, a rat’s nest of evil, Bruce refuses.  No matter how much evil there is in the city, the people are still worth fighting for.  (Gen. 18:32)

Aside from the main plot of Bruce and his search for justice, there is a delightful cast of secondary characters, and I found several of them to be very endearing–and admirable.  Alfred is a wonderful example of loyalty; even though he is only a butler, he watches over Bruce like a father.  He doesn’t give up on Bruce, despite his mistakes, and he challenges Bruce to do something with his future–and begs him not to destroy the family name in the process.  Gordon, the police officer that Batman wins as an ally, shines as a just soul who is willing to go against an unjust system.  And Rachel, the district attorney and long-time friend of Bruce’s, is a rare and lovely example of femininity.  She fights for what is right and isn’t afraid to stand up to bad guys or Bruce.  She takes action and challenges Bruce to achieve a higher standard, yet she doesn’t run into danger or try to save the world on her own.  Her primary role in the final climactic battle is defending and comforting a small child, a very endearing and feminine moment.

On a related note, the developing romance between Rachel and Bruce is very subtle and tame.  For most of the film, their attraction manifests itself in their desire to take care of each other–Bruce protects Rachel, and Rachel supports and challenges Bruce (and Batman).  Near the end of the film they do exchange some romantic words and one kiss, but there is no flirting or sexual overtones.  In fact, Rachel is never shown flaunting herself or wearing noticeably immodest clothing, a very refreshing portrayal.

The Unjust

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the two girls Bruce takes out on a date.  In an attempt to conceal his secret identity, Bruce tries to fill the role of a millionaire playboy.  This results in a decadent evening out that ends with Bruce in a pool with two women who have evidently undressed.  While very little skin is shown, it is still worth noting.  What’s also worth noting, however, is that this behavior is not condoned.  Bruce runs into Rachel shortly after and feels the need to explain that “all this” is “not the real Bruce.”  Rachel replies with, “It’s not who you are underneath that defines you, but your actions.”  Although the scene was unnecessary, and certainly isn’t appropriate for children, I do think Rachel’s response shows good character.

Aside from that one scene, the adult content in the film is very mild.  A few men are shown shirtless briefly, but there is no other overt immodesty or sexual content.  There is a fairly generous dose of moderate language, in addition to at least one swear word and direct misuse of God’s name.  The mystical group has some quasi-religious rituals and claims to have supernatural influence; it mostly comes off as bizarre and is not explained in detail.

The main content concern is, of course, violence.  As is to be expected with an action movie, there’s ample amounts of flashy violence–explosions, car chases, etc.  There is also a substantial amount of gang violence and several gun/fistfights.  Gore is not excessive, but there is a moderate horror element to one bad guy’s methodology–he uses a toxin to induce panic in his victims, causing them to imagine the people around them as horrid creatures.  The disturbing nature of this, and the psychological implications of his weapon, provides interesting material for adults but may be a concern for younger audiences.

Interestingly, while Batman claims to be against killing his enemies, he does not appear to have any qualms against causing destruction and chaos.  He blows up the monastery where the mystical group resides, supposedly killing many of them.  He wreaks havoc during some of his escapades, damaging buildings and crashing police cars.  And during the climax [spoiler!] he intentionally leaves the villain in a doomed train.  He’s statement of “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you” makes one wonder just how deep his devotion to saving lives really is.

In the end

The superhero genre was a new experience for me, and I’m still trying to process my reaction to the film.  I was expecting ample violence and also hoping for deep themes to ponder.  I got both, and thankfully the objectionable content in the film was not high enough to muddy it.  I’m not sure yet whether Batman Begins will be a film I enjoy watching repeatedly, or whether it will be a film I watch only a few times and ponder.  But I have decided on one thing–superhero movies may just be worth my time.

Krull

Krull posterWhen the world of Krull is invaded by a powerful creature known as “The Beast” and his army of “Slayers,” the kingdoms know it is time to bury their differences and unite against the attackers.  In the hopes of joining their two rival kingdoms, Princess Lyssa and Prince Colwyn decide to marry to form an alliance.  But on their wedding night, the castle is raided, and Lyssa is stolen away to the Beast’s Black Fortress.

Colwyn sets off to find her, with the help of an aged prophet.  Along the way he meets a clumsy, shape-shifting magician, a band of robbers, a seer, and a cyclops, and comes up against the Widow of the Web, the murderous Slayers, quicksand, evil creatures, the Black Fortress itself, and eventually, the mighty Beast.

Can Colwyn claim victory over the forces of evil and rescue his bride?  Can Krull be freed from the clutches of the Beast?  And in the face of fear and danger, can faithful love prevail?

The Good

There is a great deal of good in this fun and delightful film, which I’ve heard was the first live-action epic fantasy.  For one thing, it is very clean.  There is no sexual content, graphic violence, language, or crude humor.

Many excellent themes are presented also.  The love story is an unusual one, as the couple has decided to marry as a political alliance rather than romantic feelings, but later find that they love and admire each other.  The marriage ceremony that is begun is an interesting one, featuring a flame that the woman gives “only to the man she chooses as her husband.”  Through all the pressure and danger, she refuses to give in to the Beast’s pressure to choose him as her husband, remaining faithful to her vows.

Colwyn also shows great faithfulness and true love.  When Lyssa begs him to let her fight alongside him in the raid, he refuses, saying that if she loves him she will protect herself as best she can.  And then when she is in danger, he risks his life and all that he has to rescue her and bring her safely home.

Courage, loyalty, honor, kindness, and self-sacrifice are virtues that are extolled throughout the story.  Lyssa and Colwyn are loyal to each other, Ergo shows small kindnesses to little Titch, Rell is willing to die for the others.  They are all willing to lay down their lives in any way they can to free their land from tyranny.

The Bad

While there is no goriness, there is a great deal of violence.  A large castle raid at the beginning kills everyone inside except Colwyn.  Nearly all the characters have died by the end, some of them in rather disturbing ways.  One character is crushed to death by a large stone door closing, while another is stabbed by a slowly extending spike in the terrible Black Fortress.  A giant white spider chases a character across a web, another character is sucked under and killed by quicksand, and still another is poisoned by the fingers of a very evil looking shapeshifter.  Plus there are some things, such as the Beast and his terrifying fortress, that are just plain scary.

There is some mild kissing in a couple places, and at one point Colwyn is tempted by a beautiful woman to “keep her company for one night,” but he refuses to betray his bride.  One robber is said to have several different wives, one in each city he visits, which is portrayed as somewhat humorous.  A character who is said to have loved Ynyr, the Old One, long ago, admits to having borne his child, and later killed it.

There is a great deal of magic throughout the film, which is not ever explained.  There are prophets, enchantresses, shapeshifters with evil powers, magic fire, curses, magic artifacts, and more.  It is neither mentioned as coming from a demonic source nor a divine source, but simply exists naturally in the world, so viewers should weigh that against their own view of magic in fiction before deciding to watch the film.

The Art

James Horner’s score is magnificent, though admittedly extremely reminiscent of his score for The Wrath of Khan.  The film’s design is breathtaking, especially the surrealistic and disturbing interior of the Black Fortress, and it is well cast and well acted.  While the story wanders about from time to time and has some elements that are not fully explained or set up, it is an overall compelling narrative that is enjoyable from beginning to end.

I enjoyed this film immensely, not only for its considerable place in film and fantasy history, but also for its delightful tale of epic adventure and faithful love.

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