Went to see "Kingdom of Heaven' tonight and enjoyed it quite a bit. Orlando did pretty good and the Syrian Actor who played Saladin was very good . It was also good to see Siddig el Fadil (now Alexander Siddig) from DS9 get a decent role. In fact there were many good smaller rolls in the film.
The movie certainly plays fast and loose with history. But people don't have the attention span to learn the details of this conflict. Of course, it doesn't help that the crusades took place over something like 200 years. Lots of details there. If you want some fact about the movie here you go. I also found a few interresting facts at the site of a person who certainly did not enjoy the movie.
The simple fact is that most if not all the parties concerned in the affair were cruel, bloodthirsty, powerhungry bastards. We already know that the Knights and pilgrims had various reasons for wanting Jerusalem ranging from drooling fanaticism to cold and calculating economics. But the Arabs were not all poets and sagely well-dressed men of wisdom. In listening to Amin Maaloufs 'A history of the Crusades through Muslim eyes' I learned that the Muslims could easily have repelled/defeated the first crusading armies but were too busy screwing each other over, or paying them off. At the time they were a group of individual kingdoms fighting for power and land. United under Saladin they were not always sagely and magnanymous. They did in fact wipe out everyone during a battle just 3 months before the events in the movie took place and although Jews and Christians could pray in Jerusalem they were often treated quite badly. These were men who were products of their timer though. And they were brutal times. I wonder what our excuse is now?
What I enjoyed most about the film was its visual style, its very natural feel. The costumes were simply amazing. This film didn't cut one corner or substitute more flashy looking armoror. Everything down to the shoes looked right. I even saw a European carrying a falchion (single edge) sword, which you never see in a movie even though it was a very popular style at the time. The battles looked absolutlely real. It makes you understand why you would want to surrender a city rather than withstand a prolonged siege.
Overall, I give it a "C-" for history and an "A" for style. Go check it out.