DVD Tuesday: Bloom's 'Kingdom' Astin's 'West' & Lee's 'Dracula'
- Xoanon @ 22:05 PST Into the West Dracula A.D. 1972
Kingdom of Heaven
It's hard to believe Ridley Scott's handsome epic won't become the cinematic touchstone of the Crusades for years to come. Kingdom of Heaven is greater than the sum of its parts, delivering a vital, mostly engrossing tale following Balian (Orlando Bloom), a lonely French blacksmith who discovers he's a noble heir and takes his father's (Liam Neeson) place in the center of the universe circa 1184: Jerusalem. Here, grand battles and backdoor politics are key as Scott and first-time screenwriter William Monahan fashion an excellent storyline to tackle the centuries-long conflict. Two forward-thinking kings, Baldwin (Edward Norton in an uncredited yet substantial role) and Saladin (Ghassan Massoud), hold an uneasy truce between Christians (who hold the city) and Muslims while factions champ at the bit for blood. There are good and evildoers on both sides, with the Knights Templar taking the brunt of the blame; Balian plans to find his soul while protecting Baldwin and the people. The look of the film, as nearly everything is from Scott, is impressive: his CGI-infused battle scenes rival the LOTR series and, with cinematographer John Mathieson, create postcard beauty with snowy French forests and the vast desert (filmed in Morocco and Spain). An excellent supporting cast, including Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and David Thewlis, also help make the head and heart of the film work. Many critics pointed out that Bloom doesn't have the gravitas of Russell Crowe in the lead (then again, who does?), but it's the underdeveloped character and not the actor that hurts the film and impacts its power. Balian isn't given much more to do than be sullen and give an occasional big speech, alongside his perplexing abilities for warfare tactics and his wandering moral compass (whose sole purpose seems to be to put a love scene in the movie). Note: all the major characters except Neeson's are based on fact, but many are heavily fictionalized. [Order 'Kingdom of Heaven (Widescreen Edition)' on Amazon.com Today!] [Order 'Kingdom of Heaven (Full Screen Edition)' on Amazon.com Today!] [Order 'Kingdom of Heaven (UMD Mini For PSP)' on Amazon.com Today!]
Experience one of the most definitive and triumphant chapters in American history by journeying Into the West with this powerful 4-disc DVD set. Presented by TNT in association with DreamWorks Television and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this 12-TV-hour event contains all 6 timeless episodes of the action-packed mini-series and boasts an entire disc of exclusive bonus features. Chronicling the struggles, heartache and conquests of two inspiring families, Into the West captures the hopes and perseverance of both the explorers who risked everything to fulfill their dreams and the land's indigenous people forced to watch their way of life disappear. Featuring an ensemble cast of Hollywood's brightest stars, including Beau Bridges, Graham Greene, Matthew Modine and Keri Russell, Into the West is an American Dream saga that Entertainment Weekly calls "epic in scope and cast." [Order 'Into the West' on Amazon.com Today!]
London's become a small town for a handful of jaded psychedelic-era hipsters. But Johnny Alucard has a groovy new way for his pals to get their kicks. A certain ritual will be the living end, he insists. And if you still wonder where Johnny's coming from, try spelling his last name backwards. Dracula is raised into the modern era in this Hammer Studios shocker that's "quite well done" (John Stanley, Creature Features). Christopher Lee dons the cape for the sixth time and seeks out fresh victims. As archnemesis Van Helsing, fellow horror legend Peter Cushing clutches a vial of holy water and edges within throwing distance. Their harrowing battle royale is not to be missed. In fact, it's the living end. Director: Alan Gibson Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Stephanie Beacham [Order 'Dracula A.D. 1972' on Amazon.com Today!]
Into the West
Dracula A.D. 1972