Tag Archives: Ridley Scott

Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut (2005) Review

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Kingdom of Heaven

Time:
144 Minutes (Theatrical Cut)
194 Minutes (Director’s Cut)
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Orlando Bloom as Balian of Ibelin
Eva Green as Sibylla of Jerusalem
Jeremy Irons as Raymond III of Tripoli (“Tiberias”)
David Thewlis as The Hospitaller
Brendan Gleeson as Raynald of Châtillon (“Reynald”)
Marton Csokas as Guy de Lusignan
Edward Norton as King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem
Michael Sheen as Priest
Liam Neeson as Barisan of Ibelin (“Godfrey”)
Director: Ridley Scott

In the twelfth century, blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) travels to Jerusalem, a city seething with religious wars. He transforms into a defending warrior who saves the city and its people.

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I have heard about Kingdom of Heaven for a while, mainly about it being another historical epic from director Ridley Scott. I also heard that it’s one of the most infamous instances where the director’s cut is far better than the theatrical cut, with the latter reportedly removing so many important parts from the film. So I sought out the Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven and I’m prepared to say that it’s one of my all time favourite films from Ridley Scott, which is quite something considering his filmography.

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Kingdom of Heaven was a very well-crafted historical epic, it does have fictionalised events but that’s to be expected from most big budget Hollywood historical epics (especially those directed by Ridley Scott). The large scale of this movie is impressive, and the story is grippingly told with high stakes very apparent throughout. It has a complex plot with many well thought out characters and plotlines and with the director’s cut at least, I think it was put together well. On one hand the film is a classic tale about an individual who rises to become something great, but it’s also a movie about the Crusades. I don’t know much about the subject matter but the Crusades sound like a fascinating historical period, so that was interesting to watch. One of the most surprising parts of the movie is that it does a great job at depicting both sides of the fight equally, with Islam and Christianity being represented fairly. It would have been easy to pick one side over the other, but it’s a well balanced telling of both religious sides. It is particularly powerful when you consider this holy war conflict is framed against a post 9/11 backdrop with the film being released 2 years into the Iraq War. And thinking about it, this is probably one of the many reasons why Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t liked by some when it came out. There’s a lot to this movie thematically, especially about hope and redemption, and it has a very humanist view on religion and life in general. The director’s cut includes 45 minutes of extra footage compared to the theatrical cut. I can’t speak for myself about how much the differences matter since I never watched the theatrical cut, but I heard the extended scenes flesh out many of the supporting characters and storylines. As I said before it is a complex and long movie, making it 3 hours long. However I think the runtime was worth it to tell a story of this magnitude. The movie takes its time, it has many subplots it juggles but takes time to develop them and the characters and it really pays off.

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Kingdom of Heaven has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a movie and overall there are some strong performances playing well realised characters. The cast includes Michael Sheen, Brendan Gleeson, Eva Green, Marton Csokas and many more. For me the standouts were Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Edward Norton (as a character whose face is never seen yet gives a scene stealing performance), and Ghassan Massoud. The one cast member I hadn’t mentioned yet is the actor who plays the lead character, Orlando Bloom. His performance has been criticised by many, potentially partly due to his cut scenes. He definitely pales when put alongside the other actors in the movie and better actors could’ve been cast in his part. However I do think Bloom gives a really good performance, definitely the best I’ve seen from him.

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Ridley Scott’s movies are generally impressive on a technical level and Kingdom of Heaven is no exception. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, it’s possibly one of the best looking movies that Scott has made. You really feel the sense of scale with this movie, the production design and costumes are top notch, and get you completely immersed within this time period. As a spectacle it doesn’t disappoint, with some intense battle and action sequences which hold up well today, including the CGI. Finally there’s the great score from Harry Gregson-Williams, which could very well be the best I’ve heard from him.

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The Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven is a fantastic historical epic that’s worthy of being placed among the best. The stellar cast are fantastic in their parts, Ridley Scott’s direction is top notch, and the story is complex and with compelling characters. Of course if you are going to watch it, make sure to watch the director’s cut, it’s pretty much universally accepted by everyone who’s watched it as the definitive version of the film.

Black Rain (1989) Review

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Black Rain

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nick Conklin
Andy García as Charlie Vincent
Ken Takakura as Masahiro Matsumoto
Kate Capshaw as Joyce
Yūsaku Matsuda as Koji Sato
Director: Ridley Scott

Nick (Michael Douglas) and his partner, Charlie (Andy Garcia), are New York City policemen who must track down Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), a Japanese gangster, who gives them the slip while being transported to Osaka for his murder trial.

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I came across Black Rain at some point, I initially heard that it was a decent crime thriller starring Michael Douglas. Then I found out that Ridley Scott directed it so that got me interested in checking it out. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Black Rain, it is actually one of Ridley Scott’s more underrated movies, and it’s one worth checking out.

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The plot of Black Rain is nothing too special despite some interesting turns here and there. Basically the main two characters must escort the dangerous Yakuza gangster to Osaka, Japan, they are dragged into the Japanese underworld where things are done much differently. Don’t go in expecting a whole lot other than that really. The dialogue is occasionally cliched for this genre, and the plot occasionally relies too much on the expected tropes of the genre. This is as 80s cheese as it could be, it can get silly and over the top at times. However Scott’s take on the “tough cop” action movies that were more than prominent throughout the 80s was a step above other cop thrillers in that period. It is probably worth knowing going in that Black Rain more of a straight thriller than a pure action flick, so don’t expect a massive amount of action. It is also paced on the slower side, and the movie is a tad too long. However it is a well structured movie with a great atmosphere, and that atmosphere goes a long way towards getting you invested.

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There are some strong performances throughout. First of all there is Michael Douglas as the lead character of Nick Conklin, and this is the closest that Michael Douglas has been to leading an action movie. He plays a NYPD officer who plays by his own rules and the character is in many ways unlikeable and corrupt. However it works because the movie doesn’t try to make him more likable, Douglas adds a level of charm to the character (while not overdoing it), and he brings an intensity to the role. Andy Garcia is also good as his partner Charlie, offsetting Nick’s chaotic nature by being comparatively soft spoken and the voice of reason, and the two of them are quite believable as partners. Ken Takakura is also great as a sympathetic Japanese policeman who joins with the two to track down the Yakuza gangster. He has a great screen presence, and he shines from the moment he first appears till the end of the movie. The relationship between Douglas and Takakura is the heart of the movie and it was quite interesting see these two very different characters try to work towards the same goal. Yusaku Matsuda plays a yakuza boss, the scene chewing villain of the movie, and he is also great in every scene he is in.

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Ridley Scott directs this, and his work here as a director is one of the main reasons why this movie works as well as it does. Strangely enough, it is so stylised that you might actually mistake this as a film from Tony Scott instead of one from Ridley. There’s an art to the cheesy 80s action flick, and Ridley seems to know it quite well. It is visually stunning, the cinematography from Jan De Bont is amazing. It particularly shines when it takes place at night. Ridley shoots much of the movie in the same way he did Blade Runner with the heavy focus on streets with fog and neon lights, and contains some of the dark cityscapes and industrial looks that film has as well. Black Rain isn’t loaded with non stop action, again it is more of a crime thriller than an action thriller. The few action sequences aren’t absolutely bonkers, but they are well executed, and you feel the thrills and suspense. Its use of slow motion is corny at times, but this actually works in the movie’s favour. The sound design is great, and the electronic and orchestral score by Hans Zimmer is top notch, really adding to the movie.

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Black Rain is not one of Ridley Scott’s best movies, but it is one of his most underrated. The plot isn’t anything special, but it is elevated by the strong cast who give good performances here, and of course Scott’s stylish direction. So if you like 80s crime thrillers, you’ll definitely be on board with this movie.

All the Money in the World (2017) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast
Michelle Williams as Gail Harris
Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty
Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chase
Charlie Plummer as John Paul Getty III
Romain Duris as Cinquanta
Marco Leonardi as Mammoliti
Director: Ridley Scott

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.

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I was aware about All the Money in the World in the lead up to its release, even before the controversy hit the film. As most people know, because of the sexual allegations against Kevin Spacey (who had already filmed scenes as J. Paul Getty), director Ridley Scott decided to reshoot his scenes with Christopher Plummer as Getty. This brought a lot more attention to the film, the question being raised often is whether Ridley pulled the reshoots off months before its release, the answer is yes. However, how is the movie on a whole? All the Money in the World is another solid movie by Ridley Scott with the great performances being the highlight.

I was interested in the movie from start to finish but I will admit that it took me a little while to get into it, it was a little slow initially. It is a pretty long movie at around 2 hours and 15 minutes, however looking back at the movie I’m not exactly sure what I would cut out. By the second half of the movie though I was fully into it. The film doesn’t just cover the whole kidnapping, it also goes into some depth about the Getty family through the use of some flashbacks. The film really got more intriguing as it went on. As for how accurate this movie is, I know that there are a few aspects that are inaccurate, especially in the third act, it was probably done to make the film more dramatic. I guess all the real events weren’t interesting, dramatic or captivating enough, so some changes were made. I think most of the film is accurate but it is hard to tell as it’s difficult to find facts. On the whole though, the story was done quite well.

Michelle Williams shouldn’t be overlooked amongst all the Spacey/Plummer controversy. She’s truly great and believable as a mother trying to get her son back and being faced with so many odds. Definitely worthy of a lot of praise. Despite being brought in at the last minute, Christopher Plummer is fantastic as J. Paul Getty. Along with actually being the right age to play Getty and not having extremely distracting makeup (unlike Spacey), acting wise he’s more appropriate. Plummer manages to ground Getty in reality and feel like an actual person instead of a character. Getty definitely is ruthless but has reasons for his decisions and Plummer was fantastic in every scene. Mark Wahlberg was also pretty good, he doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other performances but he does have his moments and still adds quite a bit to the movie as well. Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher Plummer) is Paul Getty III and while he doesn’t have too much to work with he did act very well with what he’s given. A performance I also don’t think should be overlooked is of Romain Duris, who’s one of the kidnappers of John Paul III and ends up befriending the captive. They have an interesting relationship that I didn’t expect. Overall all the acting is great and is one of the best parts of the film.

Ridley Scott is still to this day a great director and he does great work here again. Anyone worried about the reshoots shouldn’t be, they were seamless. If you showed the film to someone who never heard about the controversy, they wouldn’t be able to tell that reshoots happened. Besides, it’s pretty obvious that every single scene Christopher Plummer is in is a reshoot, none of that is distracting though. There was only really one scene that stood out involving a desert and green screen (which from what I could tell is the only way they could reshoot that scene), otherwise pretty much everything else is in place. The cinematography, lighting and colour pallet throughout the whole film were pretty good, although a little distracting at times with how it changes during some segments. Whenever the film needs to be tense, it is very tense, especially one hard to watch scene in the second half. The score by Daniel Pemberton was also quite good.

All the Money of the World definitely manages to pull off the reshoots and be an engaging thriller. Ridley Scott’s direction was great, the film was for the most part gripping and the performances were fantastic. I’m not sure if I would put this as being one of Ridley Scott’s all time best films but it is one of his best in recent years at the very least. It was a very different kind of movie for him and he pulled it off greatly. It is definitely worth giving a watch.

Blade Runner (1982) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast
Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard
Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty
Sean Young as Rachael
Edward James Olmos as Gaff
Director: Ridley Scott

Deckard (Harrison Ford) is forced by the police Boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to continue his old job as Replicant Hunter. His assignment: eliminate four escaped Replicants from the colonies who have returned to Earth. Before starting the job, Deckard goes to the Tyrell Corporation and he meets Rachel (Sean Young), a Replicant girl he falls in love with.

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I remember the first time I saw Blade Runner. It was 5 years ago and after having a lot of expectations for this supposed Sci-Fi classic… I was disappointed. I just found it boring and didn’t know what to think of it. I decided to revisit it recently in preparation for Blade Runner 2049 and I will say that I liked it a lot more than the first time, but I still don’t love it. However, Ridley Scott’s direction is impressive, and there are a number of the performances that I like, and it was definitely ahead of its time.

This movie is under 2 hours long but it has some pacing issues. For those who haven’t seen Blade Runner yet, make no mistake, even though its Harrison Ford in another sci-fi film, it’s nothing like Star Wars. It is generally slower paced, which I’m fine with, its just that at times it really drags and when it does, it really loses my interest. With that said, most of the time I was invested in the story, I was a lot more interested in the story upon a second viewing compared to my first viewing. This movie with its themes, story and setting definitely influenced a lot of later futirsitc/dystopian/sci-fi movies. The 3rd act was the highlight for me. For this version I watched The Final Cut, which from what I can tell is the definitive version of the film. I personally can’t comment on the other versions (four versions exist) as I’ve really only seen this one version. The ending of Blade Runner is a little bit ambiguous, and also depends on the different versions of the film.

Harrison Ford acts well as Deckard, the main character of Blade Runner. A lot of his complexities and characteristics are very subtle and Ford manages to convey that with ease, he’s not an easily read-able character. Sean Young is good as a replicant who Ford’s Deckard comes across. Rutger Hauer plays the ‘villain’ of the film, as the leader of the group of replicants that Deckard is hunting. Honestly, he was the stand out performance, he feels quite human despite not really being human, he almost doesn’t feel like a villain. He really impresses, especially in the third act.

Nobody does Sci-Fi like Ridley Scott. This movie is visually beautiful and there is so much attention to detail. This movie definitely looked great for its time and its still impressive today, there are some things that look dated as expected with a movie from the 80s, but most if it really works. The world feels real and the way that Scott decided to portray it was great. The score by Vangelis also really worked.

Blade Runner is good, with its acting, direction and story, however I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it, especially on the first viewing (I can speak from experience). I do have some issues with the pacing, and it isn’t the type of movie that you just easily watch, you really have to be in the mood to watch it. Even if I do like Blade Runner now, there’s probably a lot with the meanings and interpretations that I’m missing, and I don’t quite love it yet. However, if you are a huge Sci-Fi fan, I think you really should watch it as soon as you can. As for what Blade Runner 2049 will be like, I have no idea but I have faith in director Denis Villeneuve to deliver a solid follow up.

Hannibal (2001) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling
Gary Oldman as Mason Verger
Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler
Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi
Director: Ridley Scott

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from custody. The doctor is now at large in Europe. Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) remembers Lecter too, and is obsessed with revenge. Verger was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and though horribly disfigured, has survived. Verger realizes that to draw the doctor into the open, he must use someone as bait: Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore).

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On paper, Hannibal looked like it would be something fantastic. Everything looked great, it’s a sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and many other talented actors are involved and Ridley Scott is directing. It’s a shame really, since despite all that this movie didn’t turn out all that great. It’s not bad and it does have a lot of good elements to it but it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.

I haven’t read Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, so I don’t know how much they changed from the original source material aside from them removing one character and changing the ending. All I can comment on is what is in this movie, and I have to say that sadly, the story and writing for Hannibal was rather underwhelming and messy. The scenes with Clarice and Hannibal’s perspectives each feel like they are in completely different movies, and felt out of place whenever the film changes locations. I found the plot to move a little slow, it wasn’t boring but at times it was close to being that. It wasn’t as captivating as some of the other Hannibal movies. Another issue I had was the way they decided to portray Hannibal. I’ll get into detail later about what I mean, but to sum it up, he’s no longer unique, he becomes a typical over the top serial killer. Sure, we get more focus on Hannibal as a main character instead of being a supporting player, but he’s ironically less compelling in this movie despite that. As mentioned earlier, the movie does change the ending from the book, some will like it, others won’t. As someone who doesn’t like the direction that the book ending took, I liked the movie ending more, the book ending wouldn’t have worked at all for the movie with the way they decided to depict certain aspects (no spoilers).

Jodie Foster unfortunately didn’t return for this movie (for whatever reason) so Julianne Moore instead plays Clarice Starling and she does a really good job in her place. I get the feeling that her part wasn’t written as well as it should’ve (Clarice really doesn’t get to do anything until later in the movie) but Moore definitely added a lot to the role. The most stand out performance to me however was Gary Oldman as Mason Verger, who once again is incredible in another unrecognisable role. The makeup on him really was great and enhanced his performance. He’s completely covered in this makeup and looks nothing like himself but the way he acts and speaks made his performance really work. Giancarlo Giannini is also good in his role. Ray Liotta is a great actor but he was just annoying when he was on screen, I wouldn’t blame him though, his character really was the problem and he just acted what was given to him.

Now there’s one major performance that I’ve held off talking about, and that is Anthony Hopkins as the titual character. Hopkins was great in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon but here… he wasn’t that great. While he felt unique in both of those films, he was incredibly hammy in this movie, going quite over the top and seeming more like a parody of Hannibal than actually Hannibal Lecter. It is often hard to take him seriously at points. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs worked well but here it’s typical laughable serial killer obsession kind of stuff, it’s almost sexual and is just sort of weird rather than being captivating. It’s sad that Hannibal ironically is one of the biggest flaws in Hannibal. Not to say that Hopkins/Hannibal don’t have any good moments in the movie, but most of the time he wasn’t that great.

The direction by Ridley Scott is really good and one of the highlights of the movie. Something consistent throughout all of the Hannibal movies, no matter how good or bad they are, is that they all look beautiful. Hannibal is no exception, this film looks really good especially when the film is Italy. If there’s an aspect of the direction which wasn’t handled that well it was the violence. It’s not necessarily the level of violence (as the Hannibal show has even more violent moments but yet have executed those sequences excellently) but it’s how it’s presented. A good example is a scene involving a brain in the last act. It was so cartoonishly violent that I just found it funny rather than terrifying and horrific. A lot of the moments of violence just feel rather forced and over the top, though to be fair, I can’t blame Scott for the way these scenes turned out here. The scenes that they are adapting from the book aren’t easy to portray on screen without going too over the top and violent or too tame. Even Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) decided not to return to direct this movie because he found the Hannibal novel too violent and unadaptable. So I give Ridley credit for at least trying. It is nevertheless something that really stands out as an issue with the movie. The music by Hans Zimmer is great as usual, and works very well in the movie. This movie’s atmosphere is also great, and the soundtrack played a part in that as well.

Overall the movie is a mixed bag. The story itself was a bit messy and unfocused and it wasn’t as interesting, and it goes way too over the top at times. Even Anthony Hopkins was hammy and unfortunately rather silly, difficult to take seriously. Despite all that, the movie still has some really good stuff. The acting from most of the actors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini) is great, the direction from Ridley Scott is solid, so this movie is not without some high quality aspects. Hannibal is an okay film overall. If you liked the other Hannibal movies I recommend at least giving it a look, but don’t expect anything on the level of Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon.

Alien Covenant (2017) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as Walter/David
Katherine Waterston as Daniels
Billy Crudup as Christopher Oram
Danny McBride as Tennessee
Demián Bichir as Sergeant Lope
Carmen Ejogo as Karine Oram
Amy Seimetz as Faris
Jussie Smollett as Ricks
Callie Hernandez as Upworth
Nathaniel Dean as Sergeant Hallett
Alexander England as Ankor
Benjamin Rigby as Ledward
Director: Ridley Scott

Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, members (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup) of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think to be an uncharted paradise. While there, they meet David (Michael Fassbender), the synthetic survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. The mysterious world soon turns dark and dangerous when a hostile alien life-form forces the crew into a deadly fight for survival.

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Alien Covenant was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. I am in the minority of people who loved Prometheus and the story it was going for. With Ridley Scott returning to direct the sequel, I had high hopes for Alien Covenant, and it didn’t disappoint. The story as usual was great, the acting was really good, and Ridley Scott as usual delivers at making an intriguing, intense sci fi thriller. What makes it work even better than Prometheus though is that it makes the story even more interesting and engaging, while adding some of the horror elements, which didn’t detract from the interesting story.

This film is a mix of Prometheus and Alien. Don’t go in expecting a full on Alien movie, go into it expecting a Prometheus sequel. With that said, there are many ties to the Xenomorphs, and you get to see more of them here than we did with Prometheus. The film does take its time to explore thematic elements (exploring ideas such as creation and A.I.), but it also has the suspense and horror element from Alien. This movie’s story is better than Prometheus’s, it delivers an interesting story but it’s a lot more engaging and fascinating, the movie on a whole is a lot more entertaining too. The characters themselves aren’t spectacular (aside from Fassbender’s David) but they are better than Prometheus’s characters. Part of that is due to the fact that they felt more believable and more like real people and while they do make some dumb decisions (like the characters from the first movie), here it is believable that they would make them, because of the situations that they are placed in. As for the ending… I’m intrigued to see where the franchise goes from here. If there’s any problem I can possibly find, I guess while I like the third act, the tones did clash just a little bit, especially with the action scenes. But even then it’s not a huge flaw.

The acting was all around really great from a large cast which includes Katherine Waterson and Billy Crudup. A stand out amongst these actors is Danny McBride who was surprisingly great in his role. The stand out performance from this movie however is Michael Fassbender, in dual roles as Walter (the Covenant’s android) and David (from Prometheus). He does well particularly acting across from himself, in fact these interactions and conversations are some of the best scenes in the entire film. He is especially great as David, that character is so well written and performed, at this point he’s one of the best characters in the entire Alien/Prometheus universe. That’s all I’ll say about him, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Fassbender might be one of the best parts of this whole movie, and that’s saying a lot, because there’s a lot of great things here.

This film a lot of the time felt like Alien, the opening titles for Covenant was very much like the opening titles for Alien, even the score by Jed Kurzel is literally Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien soundtrack at times. While it’s not necessarily essential for the film to have it (and I’m not really sure why they had it), I really liked it. This movie is beautiful, with the cinematography, production design, the CGI, everything about this movie is gorgeous. The Xenomorphs themselves, I won’t go into detail about them, but I’ll say that they are handled so great. Yes, they are computer generated but they don’t feel fake at any point. This movie is very intense, Ridley Scott really nailed the horror aspect excellently here, and when this movie is violent, it is really violent.

Alien Covenant is a great film overall, it continues on the story from Prometheus and improves upon it in almost every way. I won’t give away a lot about this movie, just know what you are getting into, it’s a Prometheus sequel with Alien elements, which is better than the original. I’m pretty sure that no matter your thoughts on Prometheus, you’ll like Covenant a lot more. I am curious about where Ridley Scott is going to be taking this series. I am a little concerned that it could get repetitive (Alien, Prometheus and Alien Covenant have all had the scenario of people visiting a planet and aliens attacking and killing them), I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I trust Scott. Prometheus was great, and Covenant was even better. I can’t wait to see what Ridley Scott has planned.

Prometheus (2012) Review

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
Idris Elba as Janek
Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway
Sean Harris as Fifield
Rafe Spall as Millburn
Director: Ridley Scott

The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.

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Prometheus is one of the most unfairly disliked movies of the 2010s. The highly anticipated Alien prequel (with director Ridley Scott returning) was met with some very mixed opinions. Some loved it, others were immensely disappointed with what they got. While there are some writing issues and it would’ve benefited from being longer, most of the film is actually great. It’s has a very intriguing and suspenseful story, and does tie into Alien quite well, despite leaving some unanswered questions. Prometheus is very underrated, and it will hopefully be better looked upon in the future.

False expectations likely played a large part in this movie being unfairly judged. This is not a direct prequel to Alien, you won’t see the Xenomorphs attacking people or anything like in the classic Alien movies, you really need to know all this going in, or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment (like plenty of people already had). It has a lot more depth and is also its own thing, with religious themes that it explores and more. You also need to know that it doesn’t answer all the questions that this film asks. It’s possible that Scott wanted to expand his prequel story over multiple movies, which is why many things aren’t addressed. But I did find this movie very engaging and suspenseful. I was interested throughout, I wasn’t ever bored. It added new levels of history to the Alienverse and learning more and more about it was absolutely investing. That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have any issues. Prometheus infamously have many cases of characters just making some really dumb decisions, two in particular (one involves people running away from a large falling object and the other involving a newly discovered alien life). The characters aren’t really that interesting (they really weren’t the high point of the movie), the best characters were Noomi Rapace’s Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s David. The biggest problem however is the length of the movie, 2 hours and 4 minutes. It really feels like this movie should’ve been longer than it actually ended up being. I did see some deleted scenes of the movie and some of them did really work for the movie. I’m not suggesting that this movie was unfairly cut down or had editing issues, I just feel like it should’ve been longer, so that this movie would be able to go even deeper.

There are two highlight performances. One is Noomi Rapace, she’s the lead of the movie, a lot more history and depth have been given to her character compared to many of the other characters, and on top of that Rapace did a great job in her role. The other highlight performance is Michael Fassbender as an android named David, who basically steals the show. He is just so convincing and unsettling, you can’t tell what his intentions are. Definitely one of Fassbender’s more underrated performances. As I said earlier, most of the characters aren’t that interesting, everyone else other than Rapace and Fassbender didn’t leave much of an impression. I guess the only other performance which is really memorable is Idris Elba, but that’s because of his effortless charisma, which elevated his role in the movie. Other actors like Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green were fine but they really didn’t stand out much, mostly due to their boring and uninteresting characterisation.

The direction by Ridley Scott is absolutely fantastic here (unsurprisingly). The visuals are beautiful, the CGI is great and is implemented well in the movie. The designs of all the locations, ships and creatures are so well put together. Also when Ridley Scott directs horror and suspense here, he does it so well. There are many cases of this but the biggest example involves a surgery, if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about. Directionwise this movie is pretty much perfect.

Prometheus is not a perfect movie. There are some issues in the writing and characterisation, and it would’ve much benefited with a longer running time. But it is definitely worth a watch, and doesn’t deserve all the hate its been receiving. It has a story which is interesting, suspenseful, creepy, and very engaging. And it was nice seeing some of the connections with the first Alien (even if it doesn’t address everything, yet at least) With Alien Covenant coming out very soon, I’m expecting a Prometheus sequel, just with slightly more Xenomorph content than we get here. And I’m completely fine with that.

The Martian (2015) Review

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The Martian

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Mark Watney
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis
Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose
Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders
Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez
Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen
Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck
Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor
Director: Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

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I was interested in The Martian ever since I heard about it, mostly because of the cast, director and the praise about the book which I haven’t read. When it comes to director Ridley Scott, even though I liked Prometheus, most of his recent work hasn’t been that good (The Counsellor). The Martian is a return to form for him and it’s one of the best films of 2015. The Martian has excellent special effects, an interesting story and great acting from Matt Damon and the rest of the cast. After everything I’ve seen here, I want to check out the book.

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The film jumps between Mark Watney, the people on earth and Watney’s old crew who are now on a different mission. All of these stories I thought were well done but the most interesting and overall best one out of all of them is of course is the one involving Mark. One thing I liked about this movie is that it could’ve just been dark, gloomy and depressing but it’s actually kind of a funny movie. It also helps that Mark is quite a likable character, and we are on board with him as he tries to survive all of this. Also the fact that he is a competent character helped, which separated this movie from a lot of the other stranded survivor movies. I also don’t know if this film is scientifically accurate in the things that Mark does to stay alive but the film does make it all feel real, which is one of the highest praises I can give to a science fiction movie.

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Matt Damon is fantastic in this movie. In this sort of movie you need a lead actor who can hold so much of the story on his own and Damon does that and much more. Also like I said before, his character is very likable and it works to the film’s advantage as we are with him pretty much through the entire film. The supporting cast which consists of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean and others add quite a lot to this movie. Every actor gets their chance to shine but it’s really Matt Damon’s show here.

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The special effects are excellent, The Martian overall is a beautiful looking movie. A lot of the environments on Mars looked so real. I might even go so far as to say that it was actually worth watching this movie in 3D, which is such a rare thing for me to do. The 3D really captured what it would be like to be on Mars, and of course it’s mainly to the credit of the movie but the 3D should really be mentioned as well.

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The Martian is definitely worth watching and is a return to form for Ridley Scott. I haven’t read the book that it was based on but after this movie, now I really want to. Matt Damon, the rest of the cast and Ridley Scott have made a really great Sci-Fi movie that I want to revisit. The Martian is definitely one of the best movies of the year and is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

The Counsellor (2013)

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The Counsellor

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Michael Fassbender as The Counsellor
Penelope Cruz as Laura
Cameron Diaz as Malkina
Javier Bardem as Reiner
Brad Pitt as Westray
Director: Ridley Scott

A rich and successful lawyer, the Counsellor (Michael Fassbender), is about to get married to his fiancée Laura (Penelope Cruz) but soon becomes entangled in a complex drug plot with a middle-man known as Westray (Brad Pitt). The plan ends up taking a twist and he must protect himself and his soon to be bride as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated.

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There are often films that have a great cast that turn out to be huge success, the film has the directing talent of Ridley Scott, the acting talent of actors like Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem and its screenplay is written by famous author Cormac McCarthy. Unfortunately this film is a disappointment; however isn’t in my opinion a total failure (like some people think it is) with some decent performances, great look and music as well as the second half actually being quite good. However this is one of the most disappointing movies I’ve seen.

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The script of this movie was written by Cormac McCarthy, who wrote books which got turned into some movies such as No Country for Old Men and The Road. After watching this movie I figured that he should stick to writing books because this screenplay isn’t that good, from what I’ve seen, this story would be better as a book and then possibly later adapted to a movie. The characters’ backstories aren’t exactly given so you can’t really understand much of why they do that they are doing, The first half of the movie isn’t very interesting and a lot of the dialogue is filled with metaphors; there may have been some sort of theme that this film is supposed to follow but it just wasn’t that well executed here, it just feels like padding. Nothing much seems to happen and it’s quite hard to follow the story as the film doesn’t seem to explain things, like how the Counsellor got involved in drug trafficking. The worst scene in the whole movie is when Cameron Diaz has sex with a Ferrari; even in any form of context, one has to ask why that scene was ever written. The second half of the movie is much better and seems to throw away the metaphors in the dialogue and more things actually start to happen; I’d even say that the second half is 8/10. The only problem I have with the second half is that the ending is a bit abrupt.

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The actors do well with what they’ve got; as I previously mentioned some problems with the movie are that the characters’ backstories aren’t really given and the dialogue consists of a lot of metaphors. Michael Fassbender plays the main character and although his character doesn’t have much backstory given (not even his name is given) he gives a great performance. Brad Pitt is also a standout in this movie, personally I found his character more interesting but he was also pretty good as well. Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz also do pretty good with what they’ve got.

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I quite liked the look of the movie, the locations are quite beautiful. The cinematography is pretty good with the exception of a car chase scene where there was a little shaky cam used. The music was also pretty good and seemed to be used quite well. The violence in this movie isn’t frequent but is bloody, it’s quite like No Country for Old Men and I personally thought it was well handled.

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The Counsellor unfortunately is not a movie I’d recommend for everyone to see. The acting is great, the cinematography and music is pretty good, the thing holding the movie back is its writing. Ridley Scott has another movie coming out this year, Exodus but I don’t know how it will end up, hopefully much better than this movie.

Alien (1979)

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Alien

Time: 117 mins
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Tom Skerritt as Dallas
Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
John Hurt as Kane
Ian Holm as Ash
Director: Ridley Scott

A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick an SOS warning from a distant planet. What they don’t know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. After picking up the signal, the crew realize that they are not alone on the spaceship when an alien stowaways on the cargo ship.

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The pacing of this movie is slow at first. The first half an hour or so is build up for the rest of the movie, which is absolutely perfect because it manages to create a very tense atmosphere. Alien is one of the best examples of how to create atmosphere in a movie, you take the pacing slower and let it build the atmosphere build up over time. This film also manages to give a feeling of claustrophobia and vulnerability that is present throughout the entire film.

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One reason that the alien is scary is because unless you’ve seen the other movies, you don’t know how this alien works and what it can do. The alien looks different every time we see it, and leaves us wondering what it would look like every time it’s on screen. If there is one thing that the alien represents, it’s the unknown. Like other well-made horror movies it doesn’t give all the answers to the creature that stalks the characters, all the viewer can do is watch. It’s quite a while before the alien gets seen or even mentioned. When it does, it only appears on screen every so often but that’s what made it scarier than if it was frequently popping up. The film’s scares don’t come from jump scares alone, it takes advantage of its atmosphere and uses it to help its scares. This led to one of the biggest scares I’ve ever seen in a movie. I won’t tell which scene it is or any of the other scares; in case you haven’t seen it. Like Psycho, many of the scenes are so easy to spoil it’s best to watch those moments yourself without prior knowledge. Another thing great about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t have action that could’ve ruined the amount of tension. Granted, James Cameron’s sequel manages to balance it out nicely but Alien succeeds in the type of movie it’s aiming to be: a haunted house in space.

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The actors still do a good job reacting to everything that happens despite the fact that they aren’t anything special. When you go to a horror movie you aren’t looking for great acting but fortunately the actors here to a much better job than most actors in most horror movies. While you don’t get to learn much about the characters, again, most horror movies aren’t about the people. We are with these characters for the whole movies so they needed to feel real enough, which they do.

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The alien is always a presence in this movie, even when it’s not on screen. This is due to many things, the camera work, the lighting, the sound design and the score. The score by Jerry Goldsmith in particular gives the movie an eerie vibe. The sound design should also be commended for managing to convey a feeling of emptiness. The camera’s tone is quite bleak and dark. The lighting in this movie in some parts is quite dark, leading viewers to wonder if the alien is on screen or not. All of those film techniques results in the film have a very creepy vibe.

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Although I still personally prefer Aliens over this movie, I will say is that Alien is scarier than its great sequel. Even though Aliens has a lot of action, don’t go into this movie expecting that same thing. It’s a slow, horror movie that builds atmosphere, and actually is a great example of how to create suspense, scares, atmosphere and an overall good horror film.