Intermission: Ridley Scott’s Movies

With my review of Prometheus I have concluded my retrospective of all of Ridley Scott’s movies. Some of them I had not seen before, some of them multiple times, some I had not seen in a while. It was good to watch them all in a short time span to get a feeling for Mr. Scott’s work and why people seem to think he is such a good filmmaker.

With twenty movies behind me I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Scott is a flawed filmmaker. A man who desperately wants to tell stories and certainly has an eye for the way to tell those stories visually. His movies are always gorgeous. Even Thelma & Louise and Matchstick Men, which are considered to be his most toned down movies, are a sight to behold and the product of a true cinematic eye.

Unfortunately, Mr. Scott doesn’t really know how to tell a story that connects with his audience. Sometimes he lucks out, like with Alien or Gladiator, and then the audience just eats his movies up and they come back for seconds. Most of the time, however, Mr. Scott does what he wants. He often takes a known property and decides to go the other way with it. Great examples of these are 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Robin Hood. Instead of showing what everybody wants to see, he decides to tell a story that just doesn’t interest anybody. He also often doesn’t know when to quit. The majority of his movies are more than two hours long and a lot of them would be better if cut down a little.

Next to being a very stubborn director who gets what he wants he is also a very sly businessman. He tends to strike deals with studio executives, although he would never admit that, to produce a theatrical version of a movie that is serviceable to be able to get the chance to create his ultimate version on DVD. Naming Blade Runner in this category isn’t right, because that was just inexperience in his dealing with the studio. But a movie like Kingdom of Heaven and the recent Prometheus seem to fit perfectly in that category. These movies are missing chunks of logic and plot, which makes watching them a chore.

Overall, I have enjoyed watching the movies of Ridley Scott. As I said, not all of them are equally good. My favorites are Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk DownMatchstick Men, Kingdom of Heaven Director’s Cut and American Gangster. I found a pleasant surprise in The Duellists, White SquallG.I. Jane and Body of Lies. The rest I didn’t really care for. Prometheus is still under review until the DVD comes out in the fall with the extra material.

The Duellists (1977)
Alien (1979)
Blade Runner (1982)
Legend (1985)
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
Black Rain (1989)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
White Squall (1996)
G.I. Jane (1997)
Gladiator (2000)
Hannibal (2001)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Matchstick Men (2003)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
A Good Year (2006)
American Gangster (2007)
Body of Lies (2008)
Robin Hood (2010)
Prometheus (2012)

Next director: Jim Jarmusch.