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Ridley Scott

Alien: Covenant (2017)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup

REVIEW:

In 2012, Ridley Scott returned to the universe of his 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien with the ambitious, sporadically compelling, but in some ways unwieldy and half-formed Prometheus, but those who went to the theater expecting more traditional xenomorph action were disappointed.  Originally, Scott intended to follow up Prometheus with a follow-up tentatively titled Paradise which would have gone even further afield from Alien, but in the wake of Prometheus‘ lukewarm reception, Fox decided to play it safe and explored other options for getting back to the aliens as we know them, including with Neill Blomkamp’s proposed sequel to James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens which would have reunited Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn and potentially wiped all other sequels out in favor of an alternate storyline (which, given the declining quality level of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrectionmany fans would have been okay with).  However, when the grandfather of the franchise Ridley Scott himself expressed willingness to make an Alien movie that was less like Prometheus and more like the traditional films, Fox gave him the green light and Blomkamp’s project became indefinitely dead in the water.  The result bears all the hallmarks of a movie stuck in some netherworld between being a follow-up to Prometheus and a more conventional Alien movie, but serves up enough of what fans liked about the series in the first place to be an engaging diversion, even if it doesn’t approach the franchise at its height. Continue reading

The Martian (2015)

martianDIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover

REVIEW:

Following in the footsteps of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Christopher Nolan’s InterstellarRidley Scott’s The Martian, an adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, is the latest in a trend of “hard sci-fi” movies that make serious attempts to give a reasonably realistic portrayal of space and the challenges that come with it (like the earlier films, the filmmakers consulted experts, with NASA involved as technical advisers during The Martian‘s script writing and production).  For Scott, whose prestigious name has taken a hit in recent years with unimpressive entries on an uneven filmography, this is a welcome return to form, and raises the argument that perhaps Scott is most comfortable with sci-fi Continue reading

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

exodusDIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde

REVIEW:

Previously in his sometimes acclaimed but uneven career, Ridley Scott has directed two other lengthy historical epics in a desert setting.  The first, 2000’s Gladiator, was a rollicking throwback to the likes of Spartacus and other sword-and-sandal epics from Hollywood’s glory days.  The second, 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven, did not live up to the same standards, likewise epically-mounted but narratively fragmented (apparently due to large chunks of the movie ending up on the cutting room floor, which Scott attempted to rectify in a reportedly superior director’s cut, but feeling so underwhelmed by what I saw gave me no motivation to seek out more).  Unfortunately, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Scott’s take on the Biblical story of Moses (with a healthy helping of “dramatic license”), bears more resemblance to Kingdom of Heaven than Gladiator.  In fact, 1998’s animated movie The Prince of Egypt is a better version.  Exodus, while not quite as much of a scattershot mess as Heaven, bears the same hallmarks; visually epic but narratively disjointed, sporting some stirring scenes but not enough to consistently maintain interest over its 2 1/2 hour runtime.  Considering this is actually too short to tell the whole Exodus story (various elements are truncated or left out here), that’s even more telling of Scott again showing his troubling recurring issues with narrative focus and cohesion. Continue reading

Prometheus (2012)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Benedict Wong, Patrick Wilson

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

One’s appreciation of Prometheus might be heavily-influenced by what one goes in expecting.  Despite Ridley Scott’s attempts to downplay Prometheus‘ description as a prequel to his 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien and have it viewed as a stand-alone story, many were disappointed by its loose connections and markedly different aims to its predecessor.  While it does contain elements of horror, Prometheus is less single-minded in its intentions than Alien and has far broader themes it’s trying to tackle.  Chief among Prometheus‘ flaws is that it bites off more than it can chew, but it’s still an intriguing sci-fi entry for those not expecting too much xenomorph action. Continue reading

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Marton Csokas, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Ghassan Massoud, Alexander Siddig, David Thewlis, John Finch, Edward Norton

REVIEW:

In a number of his previous films, Ridley Scott has proven he knows how to make an epic.  With its desert landscape and ancient setting, Kingdom of Heaven bears the closest resemblance to 2000’s Oscar-winning Gladiatorbut in some ways is an even more technically ambitious production.  Unfortunately, it’s a far less engaging motion picture. Continue reading

Hannibal (2001)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman, Frankie Faison, Zeljko Ivanek, David Andrews

REVIEW:

As a follow-up to 1991’s Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal was one of the most anticipated movies of 2001, but its journey from Thomas Harris’ page to the screen was a tumultuous one. Continue reading

Gladiator (2000)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Tomas Arana, Tommy Flanagan, Ralf Moeller, David Schofield, Spencer Treat Clark, Sven-Ole Thorsen

REVIEW:

Gladiator is the first sword-and-sandals epic in four decades, and harkens back to epic spectacle on a scale seldom mounted while updating the Roman epic with modern effects (and modern violence). Gladiator is a ferocious epic of sand and blood that might attract those who appreciated Rob Roy, The Last of the Mohicans, or Braveheart, but in some ways is on a more epic scale than all of them, and combines spectacle, red-blooded action, and narrative prowess into a rousing and dynamic film.

Continue reading

Alien (1979)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt

REVIEW:

In some ways, Alien could be seen as moving the Halloween-style slasher horror movie into outer space, but its achievement was more than that. While the best-known sci-fi at the time was the fairly lightweight Star Wars and Star Trek, with Alien Ridley Scott looked through the glass darkly. Continue reading

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