If there’s one hallmark of Ridley Scott is that you’ll be hard pressed to forget any of his movies. His ability to create atmosphere is one of the best in the business. He definitely knows how to raise the goosebumps. However, he seems to a bit lacking in character development, which I definitely crave more of as I get older. Can any of my readers enlighten me as to whether or not he’s improved upon this in the last ten years?
Blade Runner: This movie (based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) may have my favorite cyper-punk dystopian vision of the future. To this day the movie is still breathtaking. Harrison Ford plays a blade runner, an enforcement agent tasked with finding and terminating replicants, man-made human slaves gone rogue. I love the ideas here, especially the Voight-Kampff tests designed to detect replicants by asking them benign questions. But oh boy does this movie have a lot of problems. Ford’s character is so callous and cold that I was actually rooting against him by the end. There’s a rape scene which is just brutal and completely out-of-nowhere. In fact, it’s too much like a Christopher Nolan movie in that it’s more or less devoid of emotion, which this story needs in spades. I watched the Director’s Cut, which apparently has a better ending and eschews some god-awful narration by Ford. I’m glad I watched the movie; it certainly made the computer game more enjoyable. But it’s current ranking at IMDb as the 126th best movie of all-time is kind of embarrassing.
Hannibal: Very stylish follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs, which focuses more on Hannibal than detective Starling. Unfortunately, Foster bowed out and was replaced by Julianne Moore. I like Moore, but I don’t think she was the best choice for Starling and the lack of chemistry in this movie severely dampened the emotional impact the first movie had. That said, the atmosphere is fantastic, dark and horrifying. Anthony Hopkins is great once again.
Alien: Incredibly horrifying movie. Scott is a master of suspense here, creating a claustrophobic environment where the scares rely mostly on the unknown (and some great shooting). Sigourney Weaver is great. I really need to watch this again.
Gladiator: Loosely based on the lives of Maximus and Commodus, Russel Crowe shines as the former, avenging the murder of his wife and death and engaging in Coliseum battles, trying to survive as a gladiator. Oliver Reed’s final movie. Joaquin Phoenix puts in a masterful performance as Commodus. We are supposed to hate his character and he makes it very, very easy. As is usual with Scott, the visuals are stunning. The story isn’t perfect and is just a teeny bit too manipulative for my tastes.
Other Ridley Scott Movies You May Have Seen
Black Hawk Down
Kingdom of Heaven
Robin Hood (2010)
Body of Lies
Thelma & Louise
A Good Year
1492: Conquest of Paradise