Myself and about 20 friends from The Grey Company, a dark ages (800-1100AD) re-enactment group, were lucky enough to see Kingdom of Heaven last night at an advance screening. We got to put on some Crusader vs Saracen battles for the crowd's entertainment, then see the movie for free! Mind you, a 2hr 20min movie wearing 35lb of chainmail ain't too comfy Kingdom of Heaven is really good, a very impressive achievement. Ridley Scott's done a fine job of recreating an old city teeming with life. My dark ages re-enacting group, who portray a period only 80 years or so before this movie is set, were all REALLY impressed with the gorgeous costumes and armour and weapons. This stuff is amazing. Foot soldiers wear gambesons, lords wear chainmail and intricately acid etched helmets, and the Saracen armour is simply beautiful stuff. FYI, WETA workshop made the staggering amount of chainmail seen in this movie using their PVC pipe method, you can tell from the square edges on the rings. But closeup "hero" shots have rounded real metal link chain mail. The story revolves around Balian of Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), the illegitimate son of Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson). After losing his wife and child, he joins his newly discovered father on the road to Jerusalem, where they both seek peace and absolution for their sins. Along the way, Balian becomes a knight, becomes known to the Saracens (Muslims) as a good decent man, and ends up having to defend the city from the Saracen army of 200,000 lead by the great Saracen general Salah-Adin (Saladin) after the delicate peace between the leper king Baldwin and Saladin breaks down after Baldwin's death. Personally I'm not fond of battle scenes filmed so close up that you can't see what people are actually doing. But the army scenes were really well done, as were the siege scenes at Jerusalem. Orlando Bloom's character may seem like an amazingly gifted fighter and general after starting as a humble blacksmith, but keep in mind there's a 3 year gap between joining his father's troupe and the big final battle. One can assume that a noble's son, and then the noble himself, would be schooled in all the facets of warfare. And it very realistically shows him getting his ass kicked in some way in just about every fight. In big battles it's almost impossible to get up close and personal with the enemy and not gets a few scrapes and bruises. One minor gripe is that personally I don't think Orlando Bloom had quite enough screen oomph to deliver some of the stirring lines that were expected of him. But he still did a good job. The rest of the cast were great. It had a lot of big names but apart from Orlando, this wasn't a real "star vehicle" movie. It's rare to find a serious movie that remains serious and doesn't drop in a comic relief sidekick just for laughs. In fact I don't think I laughed once in this movie, except the priest's line near the end of the movie as he's trying to save his own skin. The CGI was seamless, I honestly couldn't pick anything that looked fake. Mind you, our free seats were at the very front row of the cinema Next time we see it I'd like to be a few rows back! For fans of catapaults and trebuchets, my god those things really shake the cinema as they're hurling huge stones at the city walls. Especially when they focus their fire on one point of the wall. This movie better than any other really shows trebuchets as the cannons of the age that they were. Apparently the conservative Christian element in America who've seen advanced screenings were up in arms about the negative portrayal of the Christians as bloodthirsty warmongers, and they're upset that Muslims are portrayed as the peacemakers. Rubbish. Leaving aside the fact that the Christian Crusaders acted like bloodthirsty barbarian animals during their crusades to capture Jerusalem, in this movie, both sides have generals and/or kings who want peace, both sides have stirrers who want war to claim more land and money and sley their godless enemies, both sides have religious leaders saying "This war is God's will!" And both sides have armies who have to follow orders and die when they're told. I felt it was less anti-western than, say, The Last Samurai. It's another movie in the recent trend of non-biased war movies. It's just a movie about what happened, viewed from both sides, albeit with some fictional elements for movie needs. And it was good to see ALL the Saracens being played by Muslims, and not western stars. Go see this movie. There's nothing I can think of that wasn't really good. And we're going to see it for free again tomorrow as well.