I love the idea of this Ridley Scott retrospective/reevaluation and The Playlist Nation doesn't disappoint with their harsh criticisms at turns, yet noble reverence when needed and deserved. From top-to-bottom, the crew quickly revisits the filmography of much-disputed American action filmmaker Ridley Scott, from Alien to Body of Lies.
Here are their rankings, in order from highest-graded to lowest:
Blade Runner [A+], Alien [A+], Thelma and Louise [A-], Gladiator [B], Legend [B], Matchstick Men [B], Body of Lies [B-], Black Rain [B-], 1492: Conquest of Paradise [C], American Gangster [C], A Good Year [C], Kingdom of Heaven [C-], G.I. Jane [C-], Black Hawk Down [D+], Hannibal [F].
For the most part, they get it right. Blade Runner ('82) and Alien ('79) are undisputed masterworks, two of the most influential, fully-formed and expertly-designed science-fiction films of the last thirty some-odd years.
Kingdom of Heaven ('05) is a slog. I know the director's cut has a sparkling reputation these days, but until they can edit out any scene that Orlando Bloom is in, it still sucks, I'm sorry. Gladiator ('00) is a ripe piece of entertainment to this day, nearly impossible not to enjoy on some level despite a clear-cut Hollywood presence at every turn. It's not a "great" film so-to-speak, but it clearly works because the scale matches its emotional pull.
Legend ('85), which I reviewed a few months ago, is quite remarkable in many ways despite the fluttering, fairy-tale syrup. Like his previous films, it's a visual marvel, and despite the elementary simplicity to the tale, there is genuine dread and darkness in Tim Curry's evil Lord - it's certainly one of Ridley's most underrated and undervalued films.
And finally, American Gangster ('07) and Body of Lies ('08) should be flipped. The latter is a middling, uncontentious spy thriller and the former actually works on a narrative level. I know I'm in the minority, but I actually liked American Gangster when I saw it in theaters three years ago and I still like it today.
Once again, for the full list of The Playlist's Ridley Reevaluation - including grades - go here.
Friday, May 14, 2010
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