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Another Kingdom of Heaven: CrusaderS...


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#1 of 1 frank manrique

frank manrique

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Posted June 03 2006 - 08:44 PM

CrusaderS…the movie…

Having just read two books related to medieval times and the crusades: The Knights Templar (Barns & Noble Books) by Stephen Howarth (a superb accurate account of the history of this much maligned and misunderstood Christian warring knights/monks Order) and The Second Messiah (Barnes & Noble Books) by Christopher & Robert Lomas (a Freemasons’ version of the Knights Templar, the Shroud of Turin, and their so-called secrets of Freemasonry-talking about where Brown must to have derived his rather un-original ideas for his decidedly idiotic book: The Da Vinci Codes!), I wanted to keep the ball rolling, sort of speak, by watching films with a similar theme…

I never heard of, or seen the movie CrusaderS before…until I happened to see it available at DVD Empire.com when I recently placed an order for the new Director’s cut DVD of The Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scott; I also ordered it.

It appears that CrusaderS might have been filmed intended for television broadcasting by the producers of another two unknown movies (to me anyway): Augustus and Nero.
The CrusaderS cast is composed of fairly unknown actors, with the exception of Franco Nero, the famed Italian actor; the rest of the cast seems to be composed of Italian, Greek or Macedonian, Bosnian or Croatian and perhaps Albanian actors as well.

Synopsis…

The plot line, unlike Ridley Scott’s The Kingdom of Heaven, which took place in the 12th Century in the Holy Land and when Jerusalem was taken back by the saracen forces headed by Saladin, is centered around and during the First Crusade effort by “crusaders” from Western Christian countries (circa late11th Century) and the ensuing siege and eventual fall of the Holy city of Jerusalem.

Overall I found this film to be far more balanced and accurate in the portrayal of Western and Eastern Christians, Jews, and Muslims of that period than I do with The Kingdom of Heaven for there definitely is far more religious fervor, romantic and brotherly love, as well as atheistic displaying in the story of the CrusaderS than in Scott’s epic tale, but still there is a great deal of physical violence shown, yet nowhere as bloody graphical as in the latter film.

The production is not’t as beautifully photographed and lush looking as Scott’s film, but still manages to convey a fairly realistic sense of what might have been like to exist in those days. No doubt the budget was definitely much lower than what had to cost to make The Kingdom of Heaven…

The DVD…

Incredibly, the transfer (1:78:1 aspect ratio; the DVD assert it to be 1:66:1) is not’t anomorphically enhanced spite of being or very recent vintage. Argh!
The image looks very good on the 40” Sony XBR CRT-based display upconverted to 1080i via an Oppo DVD player…but it should look better had it been enhanced.

Colors run the gamut and are not’t oversaturated looking. Skin tones appear to be accurate.
Contrast dynamics are very good, but could be better; night shots and dark scenes seem to be a bit “plugged,” affecting shadow detail to some negative degree.
I did not’t see digital-sourced artifacts as the image seems to be free of visible over compression effects, line twitter, mosquito noise, etc.
Unfortunately, our old nemesis, “EE,” makes itself present to some degree, although not as bad as I have seen it even of very recent DVD transfers (like in The Chronicles of Narnia no less! What can one expect out of Fox Video anyway?). Par for the course, I guess (I’ve totally given up the hope that someday DVD transfers would be free of this visual anomaly. That damned MPEG-2 processing!).

The Soundtrack…

The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1 channels format and its sonics are excellent overall, only lacking real low, deep bass and somewhat wider dynamics, yet the surround elements manage to convey a decent amount of directional environmental envelopment.
Dialog is quite audible and crisp; nothing detracts from it being clearly heard.

In my estimation, CrusaderS is a very good and highly entertaining movie spite of its rather low budget production and lack of “better” (read: well known) actors.
Love scenes are relegated to subtle displays of romantic passion, and other than a very brief display of full frontal female nudity and rather graphical violence, this movie is quite suitable even for underage family members…

-THTS




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