Denver critic: $150 million can’t buy Kingdom of Heaven a decent plot

.- Billed as what was to be one of the summer’s major blockbusters, Ridley Scott’s new big-dollar action film, Kingdom of Heaven, is, at best, drawing mixed reviews from film critics.

Francis X. Maier, a Fellow at the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies and chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver, likened the movie to “a Monty Python film with big stars, much better production values and no humor.”

He called the film, which follows a young man during the Crusades of the Middle Ages, a “secularist daydream about organized Western religion as the engine of warfare and intolerance, with literally every priest and bishop (except maybe one) a scoundrel, psychotic, thief or coward.”

Maier chided Scott, who directed such films as “Alien”, “Blade Runner” and “Gladiator” for making something that he called “silly and bigoted.”

“This could have been a compelling, even if a false, story,” he said, “but it's mainly just wooden and ridiculous.” He said that Scott fails to understand “history or the factual human dramas behind it, and the shallowness of [his] story telling illustrates that.”

The chancellor cited scholars like Cambridge’s Jonathan Riley-Smith and the University of London’s Jonathan Phillips, who, he said, “have already savaged “Kingdom of Heaven” for its lack of historical accuracy.” 

“And while the filmmaker’s bourgeois, agnostic fatigue may appeal to movie critics,” he added, “it would draw blank stares, or worse, from real Muslims and Christians of the period.  Orlando Bloom’s baffling speech before the defense of Jerusalem – a kind of postmodern St. Crispin’s Day monologue that never rises above Rodney King’s line, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ – would have triggered a popular riot.”

Director Scott has defended the film, saying, “when you see the film, you see balance”, claiming that both sides-Christians and Muslims-had been portrayed fairly.

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