1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE
Well aware that this isn't THE most popular choice out there but I'm putting it in the list because of how... weird of a project this actually is. It's Ridley Scott basically making a Werner Herzog film with Gerard Depardieu playing Christopher Columbus and Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella I. The film itself is a dark, atmospheric, brutal mess with a lot going for it despite being a million hours long (I'm exaggerating). Underrated.
Did not expect to like this one. By the time the film was released I'd pretty much given up on seeing another good Ridley Scott movie ever again (walked out of the unforgivably irritating A Good Year) but I gave it a shot and found myself weirdly getting into it. Russell Crowe was back to being bearable, thank GOD, and Denzel Washington was brilliantly intimidating. The film builds up to a terrific climax and, as gloomy as it is for the most part, it's an involving movie. Not bad.
Black Rain lol I'm The RetroCritic, how could I NOT have this one in there? This movie involves Michael Douglas in a mullet, smoking, driving a motorcycle, wearing leather and sunglasses in the 80's: it's retro-rrific! Like a cross between a neon-lit Hong Kong thriller and a sleazy, particularly stylish Miami Vice episode, Black Rain is a moody flick that won't exactly change your life but if you like a good old rain-drenched cop movie, then you'll enjoy it. Guilty pleasure.
What? I liked Matchstick Men! Sure it all gets a bit messy towards the end and loses track of what it was trying to do in the first place but... it's Nicolas Cage being all twitchy, Sam Rockwell acting like a douche and loads of fun, dodgy, conman stuff. What's not to like? This is a pretty light-hearted effort from Scott but I guess after a movie like Black Hawk Down, not too big on laughs for obvious reasons, the prospect of a project in which a demented Nicolas Cage screams at some random dude in a pharmacy must have looked pretty good. Entertaining.
THELMA & LOUISE
Quite a departure for the director, this was the first time a Ridley Scott film felt somewhat realistic in that it wasn't set in space, the future, unicorn land or... the 80's. Thelma & Louise is one of those movies you tend to forget about but remember fondly. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are great as the two leads who bond over their messed-up lives and set out for one last ride as every cop in the world goes after them, including Harvey Keitel. Oh yeah, and a young Brad Pitt pops up as well in one of his most underrated performances. Well made, strong performances, just a good little flick.
Yup, I went there. The man's latest gets the #4 spot. As flawed as it may be, Prometheus marks a return to form for Scott and although it's one that's easy to nitpick over, this is a visually arresting sci-fi horror flick and a thrilling achievement on its own. You've got a spacecraft crew you don't actually hate, as dumb as they act, and a real sense of wonder throughout whether it's just flying above those hills in the almost mystical opening or discovering more about the new unpredictable setting at hand. Not to mention a show-stealing turn from Michael Fassbender, some nifty twists and a mean-spirited edge you hadn't seen in a Ridley Scott film for quite a while. Like it or not, Prometheus is an achievement and one of the director's best. Welcome back, Sir.
Now for my Top 2, although I'm thinkin' you've already guessed it...
Well, DUH! Of course Alien's in the Top 2! Ridley Scott's classy but vicious space monster movie slasher is my personal favourite when it comes to cinematic representations of those slimy-ass bastards. It's an unnerving, stressful watch and we love it for that. It doesn't matter if you know that gooey baby chest-burster is about to make his grand entrance, you still can't wait to see John Hurt choke on his space food, spasm out all over the place and freak out his poor old crew members who are about to lose their appetite pretty damn quick. You've got the birth of a new movie heroine in Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, Scott putting his unique visual style to work beautifully with the help of H. R. Giger's nutty designs and some of the most memorable horror movie moments out there. Overall, Alien is a true classic and, as far as Ridley Scott films are concerned remains, to this day, only surpassed by...
There are many versions of Blade Runner, none of them are perfect or work completely and yet this sci-fi noir is still widely recognized as a masterpiece. Maybe you can see the strings on that spinner, maybe the sky's the wrong colour when that dove flies off but who cares? Ridley Scott captures Philip K. Dick's unique vision of the future to perfection and creates a dream-like mix of film noir cool and robot sci-fi. It may not be too close to the book it's based on and its writer might not have liked Scott's take on the replicants but Blade Runner isn't Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, it's something else altogether. Where the book was cold and cynical about its characters and their future, the film goes for a more subtle sort of fable in which humanity is far from being a given and as bad as things get, whether Rick Deckard is a you-know-what or not, you want him and Rachael to be ok.
The film boasts a spot-on cast with an appropriately grumpy Ford in the main role, Young as Tyrell's beautiful, mysterious, sensitive daughter and, of course, the replicant duo of Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and Pris (Daryl Hannah), surely the cutest robo-couple you'll ever meet. Ridley Scott's best (IMO) and my personal favourite film, Blade Runner is not just a great movie but a powerful work of art by a master at the top of his game. And it's not in 3D!
I'm scared of a shitty sequel but if one man can make it work: Scott's the man.
Good luck with that...