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Re-thinking Ridley

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Tim Wilson
Re-thinking Ridley
on Dec 15, 2014 at 8:46:00 pm

[Scott Roberts] " I think about how bored and disappointed I was during Robin Hood, and how The Counselor was such a waste of time that it felt like Ridley Scott was slapping me in the face with my own money, and it just gives me a sense of satisfaction that I didn't pay money to kill my Saturday afternoon at Exodus."

If we're keeping score, and I'm always keeping score, Exodus sits at $74.3 million worldwide, a third of it from 3 days in the US.

This makes me wonder a couple of things.

First, what's the balance of the draw between "Ridley Scott, director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator," and "widescreen Biblical epic with famous-ish actors that we kinda know will stink but we'll see anyway"?

There's obviously a long heritage of assumed-to-stink-and-actually-DID-stink widescreen biblical epics. We talked about this a couple of years ago, but once you distance yourself from the entirely enjoyable kitsch aspects of them, there aren't really that many that are very good. And Ben-Hur is a reminder that the further you get from the source material, the better the chance your movie has of not biting.

That is, the weird and apparently arbitrary ways that the movies deviate from the source material isn't the problem...although it can be. (I'm looking at YOU, Noah.) It's that there are a lot of ways to make a good movie, and I can only barely think of a single widescreen Biblical epic that employs more than one or two of them (typically, good director and cast), and they're typically overwhelmed by all the things that make movies suck (a good director and cast with bad ideas).

Ridley really poses a dilemma. He started with Alien and Blade Runner. Can you imagine those as your first major 2 pictures after years of directing commercials? After that, the pickings get pretty thin. Legend came next, and was in some ways, his warm-up for a widescreen Biblical epic. Massive scale, weird, off-putting execution.

Yes, that's Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness. Pretty epic, right?

And yes, that's Tom Cruise giving him the stink face. Weird and off-putting, right?

There's Gladiator (great), American Gangster (pretty good - Denzel Washington and Chewitel Ejiofor need to do more movies together), Black Hawk Down, and Thelma and Louise (other people say they're great, but I didn't care for 'em)....and then....what?

I noted with a shudder that upcoming projects for him include a sequel to Prometheus (nooooo!!! In space, EVERYONE can hear me screaming THAT), a "killing of Jesus" movie, and one about David and Goliath. Yikes!

I so incredibly hate IMDb, which is the classic example of why "Let's make our website work kinda the same on every device!" is stupid, self-destructive, and an unspeakable evil that must be wiped from the earth if humanity is to be saved. Don't fgjking do this, EVER. If a client ever says to you that's what they want, shoot the client once in the face, once behind the ear, and walk away.

Still, take a look at Ridley's filmography, because I it's likely that you either don't remember or haven't heard of two-thirds of it. But you'll have to skip past his producer's filmography (although it's kind of insightful just to see where he's choosing to exercise his POWER, rather this ART, which you'll find under the Director heading, and which I of course can't link you directly.

(If I had the chance to shoot the IMDb desktop site once in the face and once behind the ear, I'd do it. Don't think I wouldn't. I would.)

I give Ridley all the credit in the world for not having much that counts as a "typical" Ridley Scott film but, typically, what are you thinking? Are the great ones the outliers, or are the stinkers? Or is he just a guy who makes okay movies with both great ones and stinkers as outliers?

Or....? What?

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Scott Roberts
Re: Re-thinking Ridley
on Dec 19, 2014 at 7:22:58 pm

Good points, Tim. I personally think he's kind of an overrated filmmaker who puts out pretty forgettable movies, but every once in a while can release a *really* good one (Gladiator) almost by chance. Like, I don't even know why Gladiator ended up so good, and the surrounding work ended up so average. Is it because the screenplay was great? I don't know. It has some of the same Ridley Scott stylistic choices, but it just works better as a whole. I guess it had a story momentum that kept rolling as a phenomenal pace as opposed to the stop-and-go boring nature of something like Robin Hood.

And then R-Scott has that sort of "legendary" status as being a guy who made some SUPER iconic films a loooooooong time ago (Alien and Blade Runner). It kind of gives him imaginary credibility to keep doing whatever he wants nowadays. I mean, some trailers and commercials for his new movies *still* use "From the director of Alien and Blade Runner" text in them. As if the quality of Ridley Scott's work has stayed consistent between 1982 and now! Try putting "From the director of The Counselor and Hannibal" in a trailer and see how excited that gets people.

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