Ridley Scott

1977
The Duellists

1979
Alien 92
[ I’ve always been more of an “Aliens” guy, but frankly, I hadn’t watched the original “Alien” in 20 years. The film grips you right away with its establishing shots of the Nostromo, part “Star Wars”, part “2001”. Then the crew wakes up and we quickly get to like the cast: Sigourney Weaver,Tom Skeritt, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt… This is a true ensemble piece as well as a quasi huis clos – almost the whole story takes place in that spaceship, with those seven people and what the French title refers to as “le huitième passager”… As I remembered, this is a rather slow, much less action-packed than “Aliens” movie, at first anyway. Then again, it’s always riveting thanks to the brilliant art direction and production design, the superb cinematography, the fluid editing, the ominous score and yes, Ridley Scott’s masterful direction. And what about the alien itself, which did get introduced here: the eggs, the way they open, the facehugger, the acid blood, the chestburster, the full-on xenomorph, eyeless with a second set of extending jaws… And with all of that, I’m quite amazed by the way the way the film slowly but surely goes from sci-fi to horror. I think I still like “Aliens” better, but only marginally. ]

1982
Blade Runner 97
[ “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

While not a very faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s brilliant “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” “Blade Runner” might be the most influential sci-fi flick this side of “Metropolis.” I couldn’t admire the vision and craft more, from the design of the futuristic Los Angeles to the neo-noir atmosphere, the dazzling Jordan Cronenweth cinematography, the amazing Vangelis score, plus the always great Harrison Ford as hard-boiled protagonist Rick Deckard, and Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Brion James and Joanna Cassidy as the replicants he’s hunting down. This timeless Ridley Scott sci-fi masterpiece is an endlessly fascinating exploration of identity and the nature of humanity. I wasn’t always its biggest fan, but watching it again for the first time in ten years, on the eve of the release of “Blade Runner 2049,” I was completely won over. ]

1985
Legend

1987
Someone to Watch Over Me

1989
Black Rain 44
[ An 80s action movie directed by Ridley Scott, shot by Jan de Bont and scored by Hans Zimmer? Michael Douglas as an asshole cop who goes up against the yakuza? Sounds awesome! Alas, it’s actually not very good or action-packed. There are some motorcycle stunts, stabbings and shoot-outs, Douglas’ cool and I love Zimmer’s score… But too much time is devoted to the generic, boring plot. And what’s with all the scenes in Japanese with no subtitles? ]

1991
Thelma & Louise
[ Seen it a long time ago, will need to revisit before rating/reviewing. ]

1992
1492: Conquest of Paradise

1996
White Squall

1997
G.I. Jane

2000
Gladiator 85
[ review ]

2001
Hannibal 39
[ review ]

Black Hawk Down 36
[ review ]

2003
Matchstick Men 47
[ review ]

2005
Kingdom of Heaven 58
[ review ]

2006
A Good Year

2007
American Gangster 84
[ review ]

2008
Body of Lies 49
[ Déjà dans les années 1990, après la fin de la guerre froide, les terroristes islamistes étaient devenus les méchants de service du cinéma hollywoodien. Mais depuis les attentats du 11 septembre, il est rendu presque inévitable de faire de la guerre contre le terrorisme un des enjeux centraux de tout thriller géopolitique. Or, pour chacun de ces films qui entendent vraiment explorer l’état présent du monde, trop d’autres ne font que réitérer de vieux clichés en les enrobant d’une couche d’actualité. De fait, le coeur du récit de Body of Lies est avant tout le contraste entre les méthodes de deux agents de la CIA, qu’on pourrait aisément imaginer se disputant de la sorte alors qu’ils étaient aux prises avec les Soviétiques 20 ans auparavant. Solidement interprété par Leonardo DiCaprio, Roger Ferris est un homme de terrain qui connaît intimement le Moyen-Orient, parlant couramment l’arabe et tentant autant que possible de collaborer avec les autorités locales lorsqu’il mène des opérations. Joué de façon convaincante par Russell Crowe, Ed Hoffman est tout le contraire, soit un bureaucrate bedonnant, grisonnant et arrogant qui ne quitte généralement même pas les États-Unis, se contentant de regarder des images satellite et d’envoyer des directives par téléphone, sans se soucier de froisser lesdites autorités locales ou de mettre des vies en danger. Bref, le conflit entre Ferris et Hoffman est sensiblement le même que celui entre Rambo et Murdock dans First Blood Part II, sauf qu’il est enchevêtré dans une intrigue inutilement compliquée, qui s’étale de l’Irak à la Jordanie, en passant par les Émirats arabes unis, la Turquie et même les Pays-Bas. Une amourette entre le personnage de DiCaprio et une infirmière d’origine iranienne (Golshifteh Farahani) vient compliquer encore davantage les choses et rendre le film encore plus conventionnel. Adaptation d’un livre du journaliste David Ignatius, Body of Lies avance bien quelques idées valables à propos de la guerre contre le terrorisme, mais l’impression dominante demeure que le réalisateur Ridley Scott semble plus intéressé par l’orchestration d’explosions spectaculaires, de scènes de violence extrême et d’engueulades machos que par les nuances de la situation au Moyen-Orient. ]

2010
Robin Hood 56
[ Dans cette relecture de la légende de Robin des Bois, qui se déroule avant que ce dernier ne devienne le hors-la-loi qu’on connaît, son pire ennemi n’est ni le shérif de Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) ni le prince Jean (Oscar Isaac), mais plutôt un traître (Mark Strong) à la solde des Français. Quant au réalisateur Ridley Scott, il ne s’inspire pas tant des précédents Robin Hood que de Braveheart, de la séquence du débarquement en Normandie de Saving Private Ryan et de ses propres Gladiator et Kingdom of Heaven. Beaucoup de bruit et de furie, donc, mais rien qu’on n’a pas souvent vu auparavant, en mieux. Mentionnons tout de même que Russell Crowe est viril à souhait dans le rôle éponyme et que Cate Blanchett fait une charmante Marianne. ]

2012
Prometheus 64
[ For some reason, I thought this would be a mostly “realistic” astronaut film à la “Gravity”, so the opening scene of a humanoid alien drinking something that destroys/transforms him took me aback. Then we see that it’s set in the late 21st century and we discover a totally futuristic spaceship, where Michael Fassbender’s android character wanders while the rest of the crew is in stasis. At that point, I remembered that this is sort of an “Alien” prequel, starring such badass actors as Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba… But at first anyway, it’s less a thriller than a heady blend of science-fiction and creation myths. It’s all quite intriguing, in addition to be well designed, directed, shot and cut… But after a while, it seems maybe a bit too slow and uneventful… Then about halfway through, there’s a bit of horror that works, then there’s a really intense body-horror setpiece (the MedPod), followed by an effective enough action scene… All of a sudden, I started to wonder why I remembered this movie being badly received. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s pretty cool, no? I’m even okay with the resolution, however nihilistic and frustrating. ]

2013
The Counselor 74
[ It opens with a reallly sexy scene between Michael Fassbender and Penélope Cruz that had me thinking this was going to be a really fun watch. I’m not the world’s biggest Ridley Scott fan, but the fact that the screenplay is by novelist Cormac McCarthy (“No Country of Old Men”, “The Road”) definitely holds promise. And what about that all-star cast! Both combined produce many great dialogue scenes, like the first one between Cameron Diaz and Javier Bardem, hanging out with cheetahs and having cocktails in Mexico: “I don’t think I miss things. I think to miss something is to hope that it will come back. But It’s not coming back.” “Are you really that cold?” “Truth has no temperature.” Isn’t that some great lines? And the film is filled with them. Now, this might bother some, how the characters keep talking, talking, talking. But personally, I never could get enough of all that great Cormac McCarthy dialogue, as delivered by all these wonderful actors. Take Brad Pitt: I just watched “World War Z” a few days ago and I can barely remember his performance in it, but here, from his very first scene, he makes a lasting impression, thanks in no small part to all that sharp, sharp dialogue. And it’s not like the film isn’t well shot and cut, plus it does feature some memorable visuals, like the catfish scene, the motorcycle scene… There are even some shoot-outs! Other criticisms I’ve seen include the oblique plotting and the barely defined characters, but I mostly enjoyed this kind of minimalism, which is certainly intentional. This is a bleak, cynical, single-minded movie, and I loved it. ]

2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings

2015
The Martian 92
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

2017
Alien: Covenant 41
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]