If there’s one British feature film director I admire the most, I would award this spot to who I site as the English Steven Spielberg, that is, Ridley Scott.
Ridley Scott turns 81 today. So in celebration to his birthday, I’ve decided to construct a list of what I consider to be the Worst To Best Films that he directed. So sit back and enjoy.
It was blatantly easy for me to pick a worst film Ridley Scott directed. Not that he directs bad movies, but like many movies based on Hannibal The Cannibal, Hannibal without a doubt sucks and blows. It’s really no different to Manhunter or Silence Of The Lambs which is a shame, because Ridley Scott has often demonstrated originality amongst his other works. But Hannibal just centers on the famous cannibal who predictably does not consume enough human flesh. Okay there’s one scene where he eats a human’s brain. Meh. That could be anything’s brain. If he was eating a leg or a hand or something, I’d be invested. Or should I say ingested 😉
1492: Conquest To America (1992)
Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage has always had an interest on me and 1492: Conquest To America is decent and much better than Hannibal. But this film would’ve been ranked higher had they not included too much of the poetic singer and all that gibberish it sings, I’m sorry. It really distracts us from the film. Enjoyable action scenes, but the music does take us out of the magic.
American Gangster (2007)
Next, we have a gangster drama based on a true story about a limousine turned mobster whose mentor dies and as a result, the heroin distribution is in his hands. But things get ugly when he comes across a hard detective. American Gangster is quite simple and blends together an awesome cast; Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr, Idris Elba… It may not be as memorable as Ridley’s other projects, but I do have a soft spot for gangster movies.
Body Of Lies (2008)
Body Of Lies is a spy-thriller about a CIA officer named Roger Ferris who travels to Iraq whilst tracking down a terrorist, Al-Saleem. It’s one of Ridley’s most underrated films and I have to admit, before I saw this one, I was appealed by the fact that Ridley was the director. Of course, I also knew Leonardo DiCaprio was in the film and I despised Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. Body Of Lies is one of the films that has demonstrated how better Leo is now at both acting and choosing films to appear in. I say the same for the films he did with Martin Scorsese and Catch Me If You Can. Most memorable moments; when Roger purchases a BMW and refers to it as a ‘pile of s**t’, oh and the interrogation scene where he gets his fingers hammered.
Black Rain (1989)
Black Rain contains fantastic graphics and distinctive sound effects. Of course I remember watching this film on Blu-Ray at a friend’s house. I don’t have blu-ray myself, but I have the impression that the blu-ray had an effect on the graphics. Action films are always a lot of fun. Most of them anyway.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Made the same year when Al Qaeda killed the twin towers and set several years before then, Black Hawk Down takes place in 1993 during the Somali Civil War. I’m so into war movies. The cinematography’s quite similar to Saving Private Ryan (Tom Sizemore aka Horvath is also in this one) and the lighting’s also great. My main nitpick is the use of the poetic singer, though unlike 1492, it doesn’t take us much out of the magic. Apparently, the film received harsh criticism from military officials. One thing I will say, I take this film any day over Pearl Harbor.
Apparently, Prometheus was meant to be the fifth instalment to the Alien franchise. But of course some cross-over with the Predator films came first, which I’ve yet to see, but I bet it’s gonna be lame compared to this film. Many viewers/critics consider Prometheus as a weak contribution to the franchise. It may not be as memorable as Alien and it does contain a similar-ish storyline, but it still kinda holds up.
I know some of you may call this film overrated, but I have a guilty pleasure for Gladiator. Okay we’ve got the poetic singer (geez Ridley, what is it with you and poetic singers) but I think it contains a cool story-line.
Gladiator is about a Roman gladiator named Maximus Decimus Meridius who is betrayed by Commodus when the emperor makes Maximus the second-in-line. Commodus kills his dad and Maximus’ wife and son and Maximus wants to avenge the murder of his family. He takes part in a few fighting tournaments, which lead to the thrilling finale where he and Commodus engage in a final duel.
The special effects make up for the film; I had always thought first time round that the arena was actually real. Cast, great; Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, the lates Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, oh and did I mention there’s a cameo from Omid Djalili?
Matchstick Men (2003)
Matchstick Men is an underrated crime comedy starring Nicolas Cage as Roy Waller, a con artist who suffers from Tourette’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sam Rockwell as his crime partner Frank Mercer, and Alison Lohman, as his apparent daughter, Angela.
The film is very amusing and witty. Roy, especially, adds to the humour; near the start, he’s cheering over an assignment he’s been offered, when he ends up making an idiot of himself in the chemist and when he attempts to make use of his parenting skills with Angela. For instance, Angela returns to his place late at night and Roy, being busy with his assignments, is awkwardly like; “Where the hell were you?!” And I love the breakfast scene where Angela helps herself to ice cream. Further on, Angela becomes really interested in Roy’s crimes. Higher points!
Robin Hood (2010)
I am a massive fan of the Robin Hood series. This quite unusually darker and rougher version is my all-time second favourite out of every Robin Hood film I’ve seen (the first being the Disney version).
Now here’s a fun fact. Apparently, Ridley was not a fan of previous film versions of the legend, aside from Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men In Tights. So I guess it’s no surprise that he explored a different side of Robin himself and how he imagined Robin’s origin and what he’d really be like. Kinda like, “did they really think Robin’s life-story is that light-hearted?” and so forth. Robin Hood is kind of like Robin Hood meets Batman Begins, which I think is really interesting. Even the action sequences are cool to watch. The flying arrows during the attack on the castle reminds me a bit of the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan. It’s very visual and very energetic.
If I had to nit-pick, it’d be to do with the fact that Russell Crowe speaks in a bajillion accents. One point, he’s speaking Yorkshire, then cockney, then… Australian, but what did you expect from Dick Van Dyke’s portrayal as Mary Poppins’ best friend?
Blade Runner (1982)
Although it didn’t exactly generate the money it needed first time around, Blade Runner has gradually generated fan base since then and I’m one of them fans.
The first time I saw Blade Runner was when they showed it at my school. I was studying my A-Level in Film Studies. At first, I’d forgotten about what happened in it afterwards, but then I purchased it on VHS at some record fair and I liked it much better. I love the sets and the music. I also think this is a splendid storyline, with a sort-of anti-racial moral.
Blade Runner is about a detective, played by Harrison Ford, who has to deal with a replicant; a sort of robot that appears to be a replica of a human. His police force is a bit discriminative against replicants, but the detective has a relationship with one at some point.
At one point, Blade Runner was the subject of discussion during one lecture I had and we mentioned gadgets and lifespan. This appears to be an important theme later in the film. I’d definitely recommend Blade Runner. Unfortunately I don’t know which cut you should go for, but it goes to show that just because a film flops, doesn’t mean it sucks.
Jaws in Space, as Alien is sometimes described, which I find to be totally justifiable. I mean think about it; Alien’s about a space crew who are terrorised on their spaceship by, you guessed it, an alien and they have to get rid of it before it makes things much worse.
Alien has so many great things; a relatively small cast of awesome characters, almost just the one setting, i.e. the spaceship, and oh yes, a fantastic thrilling storyline with great themes. And speaking of themes, let’s dive in!
The crew in question are working for some unnamed company which appears to be bureaucratic and rather capitalist. It begins with a couple of the crew members, Brett being one of them, making a fuss about the low salary they’re receiving. Later, as they land on the planet where the title creature is, Kane looks around and gets attacked by the alien. Afterwards as it comes out of Kane’s stomach killing him, so begins the attack on more of the crew members one by one. As it turns out, the company had wanted the alien to be taken back to Earth and neither of the crew was informed first time round.
But what really stands out about Alien is the faulty ship’s computer which fails to help Ripley whilst she and the cat are trying to escape – “detonation will begin in five minutes and counting”, “You bitch!”, and so forth.
And the number 1 film directed by Ridley Scott is…
Thelma & Louise (1991)
And Thunderbirds are go! Oh my god, Thelma & Louise so holds up awesomely. Not only is this my favourite Ridley Scott film, but one of my favourites period.
Thelma and Louise in question are two ladies who plan a vacation to get away from their obnoxious male partners. But problems occur when they kill an abusive racist and are forced to flee their part of the country, otherwise they face harsh charges from the cops. And so begins a long, action-packed road trip nobody will ever forget.
Thelma & Louise was deservedly nominated for five Oscars, winning Best Original Screenplay, but it’s too bad that it lost Best Director and Best Actress (both the ladies got a nomination each) went to one of the dumbest horror movies in history. I still laugh at that to this day. It’s been long debated whether the film is a feminist or anti-feminist movie. I would say it’s feminist. At first, the two ladies are represented as having a rather short life, thanks to Thelma’s husband Darryl and Louise’s boyfriend Jimmy who seem to dominate their lives. They have skills in catering, which is especially unlike Darryl. No wonder he’s eating a takeaway pizza after his wife’s disappearance.
Throughout their trip, Thelma & Louise come across a guy named Harlan who appears friendly at first, but then attempts forced sex on Thelma only to be shot by Louise. Then they encounter an obnoxious sex mad truck driver, who they soon teach a lesson by destroying his vehicle. Even JD, played by Brad Pitt, who again appears nice. Only this time, he doesn’t rape them, but still takes advantage of them by stealing their money.
The traditional gender values gradually lower as the film progresses, hence Louise’s killing of Harlan, Thelma robbing a shop, their destruction of the truck driver’s truck and oh yes, when they lock a male cop in the trunk of his car. Although some of their acts are considered crimes and they put themselves in danger with the law, we the viewers can believe that the acts are justifiable.
This leads to one of my favourite endings to a film ever. I won’t give away details, but once you watch Thelma & Louise, you won’t regret it.
So that was my personal list of Worst To Best Films Directed By Ridley Scott. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave your comments below.
Happy birthday Ridley.