Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 28th, 2008
On the surface, The Kingdom appears to be a good way for Americans to relieve some stress by watching the demise of some middle-eastern terrorists. But The Kingdom is actually quite different from your standard action movie shoot ’em up. Yes, there is a lot of action, most of it occurring in the film’s last half an hour, but the film asks some tough questions and is optimistic in its belief that Americans and Muslims can work towards one goal together.
Jamie Foxx plays Ronald Fleury, the leader of a FBI forensics team (Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner) called in to investigate the bombing of a Western-workers complex in Saudi Arabia. At first his team is not wanted there, as Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom) is leading the investigation and is determined to find those responsible himself. But when the two men realize that they are better off combining their efforts, a friendship develops between Fleury and Al Ghazi. And that is where The Kingdom works best. It gives us hope that people from different backgrounds can defeat a common enemy.
Then, the action starts. Peter Berg knows how to blow up stuff, as evidenced in The Rundown, but the action here is not cartoony in any way. The filmmakers worked hard to make the action feel real, and while it does feel a little too well-staged, it does come off feeling believable. Plus, the set-up of the film makes the action feel more crucial. By coming to know the characters in the first half of the film, the stakes are raised when the crap hits the fan.
The Kingdom is a very good movie. The characters feel real, the relationships formed are genuine, some tough questions are raised, and the action is adrenaline pumping. If this movie has avoided you until now, don’t wait any longer to visit The Kingdom.
The Kingdom is filmed in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are clear and crisp, if not a little washed out to achieve a sun-burnt desert feel. No problems to mention at all.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is flawless. The first half of the film is mostly dialog driven, although it does contain some surprises that may make you jump. When the action starts at the end, cars whip by, gunshots crack from behind you and the explosions are filled with bass. Watch this one loud, folks.
First up are some Deleted Scenes that are mostly extended scenes that already exist in the film.
Then there’s a neat feature called Character by Character: The Apartment Shootout that allows you to follow each character as they make their way through the apartment shootout, without cutting back and forth between the different characters.
Constructing the Freeway Sequence follows the filmmakers as they create the first action sequence of the film, from computer renditions of the sequence to it’s evolution to film.
Creating the Kingdom is where most of the Special Feature meat is located. Divided into several chapters, and topping out at 35 minutes long, it serves as a timeline of the movie’s creation, from script to final product. Along the way, the actors attend FBI classes, sets are built in Arizona, the film crew travels to the United Arab Emirates for on-location shooting, and the Arab actors record home videos of their first time in America. Fans of TV’s Friday Night Lights, of which Berg is a producer, will smile when they see him proudly wearing his Dillon Panthers tee-shirt while barking out orders.
History of The Kingdom: An Interactive Timeline allows viewers to flip through a timeline, Wikipedia style, to learn more about American and Saudi Arabian relations as it pertains to oil.
Finally, a Commentary with Director Peter Berg is included, although redundant, as the viewer can simply watch the more engaging and informative special features to learn more about the filming process rather than listen to Berg go on in monotone about the shooting process.
The Kingdom does pretty much everything very well, from the film itself down to the A/V specs and special features. Single-disc releases don’t get much better than this. Put simply, The Kingdom is one of 2007’s best standard DVD releases.
Entertainment Weekly – Director Peter Berg and producer Michael Mann have crafted a slickly propulsive, eminently watchable action flick about an FBI team, led by Jamie Foxx, investigating a bombing in Saudi Arabia.
Bullz-Eye – Peter Berg’s “The Kingdom” is a lot like a caramel apple. The sugary outside is the reason everyone takes a bite of the teeth-decaying snack, but the inside offers a healthy balance that, while not entirely necessary, is good for the consumer.