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Retrospective: The Films Of Ridley Scott

Retrospective: The Films Of Ridley Scott

So not only has Ridley Scott apparently delivered his best—or certainly most enjoyable— film in years according to reviews (ours included) of this past Friday’s “The Martian,” he’s also apparently way ahead of the news cycle. The director says he knew about water on Mars well in advance of NASA’s recent announcement. That Earth shaking reveal yesterday may simply be a coincidence, or it may be a canny mutually-bolstering ploy that gives his film a boost, which in turn will expose more people to its pro-NASA message. Or there’s a third possibility: Ridley Scott may actually be the Godlike being his fans have long suspected.  

If there’s a case to be made for Scott’s cinematic deification, “Alien” and “Blade Runner” and quite a few others would probably figure largely as such. However, there’s plenty of evidence that he has feet of clay —his run over the last few years alone has ranged from the forgettable to the unforgivably dull to the outrageously off-the-chain and possibly cult-inspiring. Which means Scott’s filmography encompasses every type of success in almost every genre, as well as failures of every conceivable stripe. It makes for one of the most eclectic, erratic filmographies we can imagine, yet one that is united by his distinct style and approach. So, we’ve decided to take a look through the many peaks and multiple troughs of Ridley Scott’s filmography to date. 

“The Duellists” (1977)
Scott’s first feature, which won him the Camera d’Or at Cannes, feels quite different from anything else that followed: a stripped-down, vaguely allegorical tale adapted from Joseph Conrad‘s short story “The Duel.” It follows the decades-long feud between two French soldiers, D’Hubert (Keith Carradine) and Feraud (Harvey Keitel), as they find themselves continually clashing swords after Feraud takes insult at a perceived slight to his honor. It’s sumptuous and detailed enough to suggest that Scott arrived on the scene as a fully formed visual stylist (even if it’s clearly indebted to “Barry Lyndon,” as Scott himself has subsequently admitted) and it’s relatively lean and compelling, at least when it’s not pursuing redundant romantic sub-plots. But Carradine and Keitel are both woefully, bafflingly miscast —particularly when put up against the supporting cast, which includes Albert Finney, Edward Fox, Robert Stephens and Diana Quick— and never integrate at all into the lavishly imagined world that Scott is trying to render. Still, it’s a fascinating oddity in the director’s canon. [B-]

“Alien” (1979)
As different as possible from his first film, Scott’s unimpeachable sci-fi horror is an exercise in minimalist terror, manifesting in the most unknowable, terrifying extraterrestrial creature ever seen onscreen. Now that it’s part of film history, having spawned sequels great and terrible, has crossbred with other franchises to produce new hybrid film series, and in general has become lodged deep in the cultural consciousness of the past few decades, it’s hard to realize how surprising “Alien” must have been at the time. But just cast your mind back and try to imagine sitting down in the theater, not knowing that Sigourney Weaver would turn out to be the lead, or what happens in that dinner scene, or how little to trust the robot Kane (Ian Holm) or just how insanely chilling those snatched glimpses at HR Giger‘s creature would turn out to be. Yet the now-infamous last voyage of the Nostromo has weathered years of homages, rip-offs and sequels and kinda-sorta prequels, and still retains a large part of its impact. That is all down to the striking economy and confidence of Scott’s filmmaking. No matter how many “Prometheus”s he lumbers us with afterward, Scott will never tarnish the legacy of this piece of pared-back perfection. [A+]

READ MORE: Ridley Scott Says ‘Prometheus 3’ Or ‘Prometheus 4’ Will Finally Connect With ‘Alien’

“Blade Runner” (1982)
We’ve said it before, and now here we go again: If anyone can make a go of the “Blade Runner” sequel, it’s probably Denis Villeneuve (especially in collaboration with DP Roger Deakins). But despite our oceanic goodwill, there’s still only the slimmest of outside chances that his film can possibly stack up next to the original, simply because the original is one of the greatest films of all time, in one of the trickiest but most provocative and exciting of genres. Of course, it flopped on release. Still, “Blade Runner,” based on a Philip K. Dick short story, has proven a massive influence on virtually every sci-fi movie, videogame and comic book since, and remains one of the most complete, coherent visions of a dystopian future ever put on screen. Whichever version of the film you watch —the pulpy Philip Marlowe-y original with the explanatory voiceover and the happy ending, or the existentially introspective director’s cut which of course suggests Harrison Ford‘s Deckard is a replicant— you walk away after the credits feeling like you’ve lived a whole life in an alternate, broken 2019 Los Angeles and, despite the bleak rain-soaked atmosphere, you’d go back again in a heartbeat. It’s not just an exercise in world-creation; the noirish plot is gripping, the performances are uniformly outstanding, and the moral concerning the value of life and the nature of humanity is profoundly beautiful and curious in a way that maybe only the greatest science fiction can be. [A+]

“Legend” (1985)
It’s easy to forget that, for years before “The Lord of the Rings” movies came along to give the genre a good name,  cornball fare like “Legend” defined the fantasy film. But as dated and often cheesy as Scott’s sole attempt at the genre can feel these days, the picture does get a few things right, especially on the soundtrack with a dreamy score by Tangerine Dream and a wonderfully romantic closing number by sharp dressed Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry. Elsewhere, your mileage on this one will definitely vary, based on your level of nostalgia, how swoonsome you find a youthful gold-clad Tom Cruise making doe eyes at ’80s hottie Mia Sara and your tolerance for camerawork so gauzy it’s a little like you’re watching the whole thing through a chiffon veil. It’s basically the filmic equivalent of new-age unicorn art, though with a surprising (or not so much considering the director’s other output) dark streak that threatens to make it all a bit sludgy where it’s clearly supposed to be elfin and fairylike and full of magick that you spell with a “k.” Even those predisposed by childhood memories to love “Legend” have to admit that it has not weathered the intervening years well. And considering how timeless Scott’s previous two films feel now and how otherworldly and outside-of-history this one should be, that’s all the more disappointing. [C+]

“Someone to Watch Over Me” (1987)
While few of his features to date have betrayed any real sense of Scott’s genesis as a filmmaker in the world of advertising, 1987’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” seems to zero in squarely on territory occupied by fellow commercial alum Adrian Lyne —that of the “erotic thriller.” Neither particualrly erotic nor hugely thrilling to the modern eye perhaps, the film, telling the tale of a cop (Tom Berenger) assigned to protect a murder witness (Mimi Rogers), yields some real pleasure in showing Scott treating upper class socialite Manhattan as just as otherworldly as the LA of “Blade Runner” (he even borrowed some of Vangelis‘ score). But as critics even noted at the time, Berenger and Mimi Rogers have little chemistry, and the working-class tough-guy falling for his high-class social superior storyline feels pretty rote and heavyhanded, especially considering the murder subplot is so tepid. Lorraine Bracco as Berenger’s brassy, down-to-earth wife is terrific, finding surprising truth in a smallish role despite the cliche script, but even she, and the lavish ’80s music video aesthetic can’t rid “Someone to Watch Over Me” of the feel of a movie you’ve seen a dozen times before and a dozen times since. It’s one of Scott’s rarer and less forgivable missteps: an unoriginal one. [C]

“Black Rain” (1989)
For a man responsible for more than a few bona fide classics, Scott was almost always only one or two pictures away from something far more anonymous after his unassailable early run. Occasionally, courtesy of “Someone to Watch Over Me” and this fluffy-haired Michael Douglas and floppy-haired Andy Garcia vehicle, he could even come across as a copycat journeyman (albeit a slick one), rather than the original auteur he proved himself elsewhere —sometimes the films he copied included his own. And so the design of “Black Rain” is full of the slatted blinds and lazy ceiling fans of “Blade Runner” with none of the actual noir texture, though Hans Zimmer’s percussion-heavy, guitar-wailing theme is pretty rad, to use the parlance of the time. The rest of the film is a serviceable B-movie about no-bullshit New York cops getting mixed up in a Japanese crime investigation before shit gets personal —at the time it felt like a throwback to the decade it was actually made in. Still, it’s definitely pacy (again powered along by Zimmer’s score), and only slightly cringey in its East-West politics, especially if you continually remind yourself “this was the ’80s.” Which, frankly, Douglas’ hair does a pretty good job of. [B-]

“Thelma & Louise” (1991)
Made two and half decades ago, it’s clear that “Thelma and Louise” did not radically remake the filmmaking landscape in its feminist image, as some contemporary commentators suggested it might. But to watch it again is to wonder (again) why the hell it didn’t: “Thelma and Louise” is an absolutely cracking movie: it’s beautifully shot, briskly paced (even at 129 minutes) and peerlessly acted by a dream cast, particularly Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis rustling up effortless chemistry as the titular duo. Callie Khouri‘s outstanding script has a lot to do with it, and the film’s eventual popularity was further fuelled by the “discovery” of smirking golden boy Brad Pitt in an iconic eye-candy role, but we can’t take away from Scott’s impassioned direction, which does a remarkable, near-unprecedented thing: it makes a female friendship not just warm, loving, mutually supportive and important, but makes it cool. Also featuring a lovely supporting turn from Harvey Keitel as the decent lawman tasked against his inclination with chasing down the outlaws, and building to one of the most fabulously happy/sad endings in ’90s Hollywood cinema, the fact that the film did not turn out to push the vanguard of a female-oriented movie revolution forward only enhances its uniqueness and value today. [A]

READ MORE: Watch: Ridley Scott & Hans Zimmer Talk Collaboration on ‘Thelma & Louise’ In Vintage Interview

“1492: Conquest of Paradise” (1992)
After the genre exercise of “Black Rain” and the aforementioned “Thelma & Louise” (arguably his most successfully “grounded” picture — i.e. one not set in a dystopian future or a long-distant past or an unreal alternate reality), Scott attempted a return to spectacle, but this time on an epic scale with “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” The ingredients were all present and correct: an international cast led by recently Oscar-nominated Gerard Depardieu, lavish production design and costuming, and a bloated eventual runtime of 142 minutes. But the result was rather scuppered (!) by a Weighty Sense of Importance (the film was designed to be be a kind of definitive celebration of the problematic Columbus “discovering America” story, released exactly 500 years after he landed), and even the seeming home-run elements didn’t quite work. Depardieu, wonderful in his native French films and blessed with the kind of imposing charisma that should have suited the part to a T, seems lost and uncomfortable here in his Awkward English dialogue, and the grandeur of the setting and locations just seems to drag the pacing down to a slow crawl. Scott did manage some of his trademark razzle-dazzle at times, but surface was never the problem here —it lacks substance, and unsurprisingly sank like a stone at the box office. [C]

“White Squall” (1996)
What should be a thrilling, white-knuckle ride becomes a perfect storm of forgettability (and yes, that’s a reference to the much more memorable “A Perfect Storm” from Wolfgang Petersen that would come along four years later) as Scott headed out to sea for his second waterlogged box-office bomb on the trot. The based-in-fact tale follows a group of 1960s high school boys (including Scott Wolf, Ryan Phillippe, Balthazar Getty and Jeremy Sisto) taken out to sea by their schoolmaster and skipper (Jeff Bridges), when the titular violent windstorm hits and threatens to sink the boat. There’s a great deal of impressive, lived-in detail, a fair amount of hard-won sailing-is-life wisdom, and Bridges delivers a typically strong, understated performance. But Todd Robinson‘s script leans too heavily on coming-of-age cliches between the young guys whose problems all feel lifted directly from the Inspiration Teacher movie handbook, and so while the storm footage is as impressive as you could wish for, everything leading up to it feels pretty familiar, not too engaging and frankly a little dull. [C]

“G.I. Jane” (1997)
People really hate this movie. But while as a feminist manifesto, it has none of the zip and effortless-seeming chemistry that made “Thelma & Louise” such a instantly irresistible hit, “G.I. Jane” is at least a failure that’s trying to do something interesting. The wafer thin script by David Twohy probably doesn’t help, though he does give Viggo Mortensen‘s ruthless drill sergeant a DH Lawrence poem to recite, so there’s that —there’s very little plot here and the characterization does not feel strong enough to make it a character portrait either. But still, Demi Moore, shaved head and rock hard, pumped physique gives her all in an impressively muscular performance (literally and figuratively), and while the tone can feel oppressively grim if you’re not on its wavelength, that’s also an admirable stylistic choice for a Hollywood movie starring one of the biggest female stars of the time. It’s by no means a home run, but as a lean and unsentimental look at SEAL training and sexism in the military —where physical endurance and strength often is the battleground for women attempting to prove themselves— it’s a bit like a training montage from another film stretched out to feature length, with the upbeat Survivor track removed, but not necessarily in a bad way. [C+/B-]

“Gladiator” (2000)
…aaand… as much as people hate “GI Jane” and we don’t, people really love “Gladiator,” and again we’re a little out of step. It’s certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination, yet it’s still hard for us to get our heads around just what a phenomenon this film became back in 2000: the film was a box office sensation, a career-making vehicle for Russell Crowe who’d been knocking on superstardom’s door since “LA Confidential,‘ and a five-time Oscar winner, including that year’s Best Picture and Best Actor statues. To be sure, it’s an impressive and accomplished piece of entertainment, but the film is also a little self-consciously grandiose for what is really a decent, old-fashioned swords-and-sandals yarn. Still, the production design is again outstanding, especially the fairly seamless CG recreations of the Colosseum and also of parts of the late Oliver Reed‘s last performance, as he died before shooting had finished. Joaquin Phoenix (also Oscar-nominated) made an appropriately sneery villain in real-life baddie Emperor Commodus, and Crowe gives fictional hero Maximus the kind of tectonic presence that suggests, even if it’s not his greatest performance, that it may well always be the one that defines him. [B]

“Hannibal” (2001)
One of the many good things about the TV show “Hannibal” is that it has reclaimed the name of one of fiction’s most indelibly fascinating villains from this desperately subpar entry in the cinematic franchise kicked off by Jonathan Demme‘s brilliant “The Silence of the Lambs.” Of course, it’s hard to tell how much of the resultant mess was really Scott’s fault: the “Lambs” sequel was supposed to be a reunion of Demme, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in the roles they’d all won Oscars for last time at bat. Instead, that fell apart and Scott stepped into the breach with Julianne Moore as Clarice at a later stage, so that only Hopkins remained of the original team. However, it was under Scott’s tutelage that Hopkins, so chillingly restrained in ‘Lambs,’ hammed it up outrageously, making the titular cannibal just one of the film’s roster of outsized freakshow inhabitants, including a (smartly) uncredited Gary Oldman cutting off his own face and talking about drinking orphan’s tears and a bored Ray Liotta eating his own brain. That’s right: this is a film in which Ray Liotta can eat his own brain and bore everyone, even himself, while doing so. [D-]

“Black Hawk Down” (2001)
This is not the film of Scott’s to show to anyone who’s in the habit of accusing him of being nothing more than a technician —he’s made soulful, textured, layered movies, but this is not one of them. But “Black Hawk Down” is a stunningly well-shot, pared-back exercise in war-movie-as-pure-cinema: an almost avant garde experiment in how to use scintillating photography ( by Krzysztof Kieslowski collaborator Slawomir Idziak and lethally precise editing (by Pietro Scalia) to create a sense of incredible tension and immediacy. So it’s more as an aesthetic marvel that the film works at all —the deceptive docudrama elements are underserved by a script that scarcely allows us to tell one actor from another, despite the stacked cast full of recognisable faces (Eric Bana probably fares best in terms of actually making an individual impression). The film’s geography is disorienting, the goals are not always clear and we’re not sure if it’s the gung-ho politics of the film that are offputting or the fact it doesn’t really seem to have any politics at all but merely uses the Mogadishu setting as the excuse for a extended tension set-piece. But as a grunt’s-eye view of the confusion and panic of on-the-ground combat that has little truck with human characters or emotional connection, it’s a taut and bruising experience. [B-]

“Matchstick Men” (2003)
Nicolas Cage undoubtedly went off the boil in the late 90s and experienced a dry spell (or rather one that involved lots of mad-eyed ranting and a memorable encounter with some bees) that lasted most of the aughts too. But there was a noticeable uptick in the middle of the wilderness period: after his brilliant turn in Charlie Kaufman-scripted, Spike Jonze-directed “Adaptation,” Cage showed up in Scott’s highly entertaining “Matchstick Men.” Probably the most underrated film in the director’s canon, it’s also overlooked for the actor’s great performance. It’s a sharp, fast and engaging con man/father-daughter tale, with the Cage’s mannered and manic character, hounded by phobias, struggling throughout in the throes of a wonderfully nuanced inner conflict—his empathy for his newfound daughter is fundamentally at odds with his inherent neuroticism and his fierce cunning. Sam Rockwell is aces as usual in support, and Alison Lohman has never been able to top her stellar role here. The contrivance at the end does sell the great work to that point short and makes the picture feel a little slight, but for most of its 116 minutes, it’s a blast.[B]

READ MORE: Nicolas Cage Chooses His Favorite Movie Roles, Weighs In On State Of Film Criticism

“Kingdom of Heaven” (2005)
You may think you’ve seen, and been disappointed by “Kingdom of Heaven,” but you haven’t had the full experience of just how tedious it can be until you get into the protracted director’s cut—the one that many, including Scott himself touted as the redemption of this yawn of a Crusades “epic”. Yes, the extra 45 minutes restores entire plotlines and gives the film room to breathe, but it also just makes the slog of an experience (who cares if gaps are filled if the filler is so inherently dull?) even longer. Yes, Edward Norton courageously plays his non-existent character behind a mask the entire length of the picture… erm, congratulations? Hopefully one day we’ll see a Final Cut with Orlando Bloom‘s performance digitally removed and replaced by Paul Bettany, Scott’s first choice for the part; there’s a reason that Bloom hasn’t toplined too many blockbusters since. Deeply flawed, it’s like the more solemn, vastly less entertaining version of “Gladiator,” only this time it goes full-bore with the faith subplot that is so shallowly rendered it shows up just how empty the entire endeavor is. Original version [D], Director’s Cut [C-]

“A Good Year” (2006)
This 2006 picture is one of Scott’s most fascinating failures, if only because it seems to swim against the tide of his basic intuition and the very fiber of his nature. Putatively a romantic comedy, it is actually more of a character study about a tried-and-true asshole (Russell Crowe’s British investment broker) who eventually discovers he has a soul when he inherits his uncle’s French chateau and vineyard—the very place where he spent his childhood and a locale that contains his most cherished memories. The movie is a complete 180 from everything the filmmaker has ever made because, for once, he shies away from genre and spectacle and digs around for some true humanity. So on paper, we ideologically love this film and for its first hour or so it almost is the film we’d hope for, in which we get to see Scott attempting something different and succeeding. But then comes the second half and the film lapses into woefully pedestrian cliches, and by the third act when the immensely unconvincing romance between Crowe and a thinly drawn Marion Cotillard, comes to the fore, you can’t avoid noticing how superficial it all is. Extra demerits for managing to waste such talented actresses as Cotillard and Abbie Cornish too.  [C]

“American Gangster” (2007)
If there’s one perplexing habit that Scott has developed late in his career and we’d like him to please stop, it’s taking fundamentally interesting stories and characters, and then making a film about them before they become that interesting (hello, “Robin Hood,” goodbye, “Robin Hood”). And “American Gangster” is really Exhibit A here: originally a sort of dual-identities experiment about how the cat and mouse can sometimes have more in common than they want to think, somehow it morphed into a rather unsatisfying origin story. So the film ends just when it’s getting good: with a post-script informing us of the unusual working relationship between the two main characters cocaine “entrepreneur” Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) and dogged city cop Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Who cares about the familiar rise-and-fall beats of Lucas’ back story, or the broken homelife subplots paralleled by both men? We want to see the film where his nemesis Roberts starts to defend Lucas, fighting to shortening his sentence—the film that happens, sadly, after the credits roll. [B-]

“Body of Lies” (2008)
It’s not that “Body of Lies” is bad — it’s just that it should be so much better. A spy movie that’s depressingly short on political intrigue, it still has a lot going for it in one of Russell Crowe’s most understated performances since “The Insider” (and by now he’d settled nicely into the schlubby everyman phase of his career as opposed to the growling god of “Gladiator“), and one of more convincingly grown-up Leonardo DiCaprio turns from this era too. The story, detailing a CIA operative who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader suspected to be operating out of Jordan is just a little rote, but it does give Crowe the chance to subvert his tough guy, alpha male persona and gave good supporting roles to ever reliable Mark Strong and pre-big-time Oscar Isaac as well. Scott would bring them both back for his next picture, but while that film would turn out to be probably the most turgid of his entire career, this one remains fairly entertaining if insignificant, and probably quite a bit better than its posthumous reputation suggests. [B-]

“Robin Hood” (2010)
As one of the most frequently filmed tales in cinema history, how would Scott, reuniting with Russell Crowe once again, find a fresh spin on “Robin Hood”? Hey guys, I know! Let’s 1) make it a prequel and 2) make it incredibly boring! Assuming we were ever interested in what happened to legendary folk hero Robin Hood before he became interesting, Scott’s version adds insult to injury by not only stripping out all that extraneous robs-from-the-rich-and-gives-to-the-poor stuff, but by replacing it with a Tea Party-style message about how unfair it is that millionaire Ridley Scott has to pay his taxes or something. The “Gladiator”-style action suffers from a severe case of diminishing returns, and the performances, even from greats like Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong and William Hurt, are flat and tedious, saved only by the sneeringly entertaining Oscar Isaac as Prince John. Perhaps Scott, sick of the ceaseless summation of “Kingdom of Heaven” as his worst film decided to make a worse one to teach us all. He succeeded. [D-]

“Prometheus” (2012)
“Robin Hood” was rubbish, but Scott’s next film, “Prometheus” was heartbreaking. It should have gone so differently, and really looked like it would for while: the return to the “Alien” universe that Scott had spawned over three decades before was populated with a to-die-for cast including Michael Fassbender (who plays a robot but gives the absolute best and most human performance in the film), Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and more, and was teased with a genuinely great trailer (remember how much we all loved that goddamn trailer?). But when the film itself finally rolled into cinemas like big rolly wheel thing that Theron does not think to step out of the way of, it crushed our hopes flat. It may not be out-and-out bad, it may even have sequences (anything with Fassbender; the self-surgery bit) that are kind of great, but the whole falls so far short of the original film’s greatness that it’s no wonder everyone involved spent so much time distancing the two. Needlessly overcomplicating and confusedly overexplaining a mythology whose essence, certainly back when Scott was last at the helm for it, was its implacable, elegant simplicity, “Prometheus” essentially did for the “Alien” universe what Midichlorians did for The Force. [C-]

The Counselor” (2012)
In case the passage of time has mellowed your WTF?! reaction to this much-vaunted Cormac McCarthy-scripted hot mess, so let one who came to the film for the first time just recently remind you: holy shit. Having read and enjoyed the script, and knowing the cast (well certainly Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt) are all ringers, the only person to really blame for just how very bad a film this is, is Ridley Scott. Perhaps suffering from unusual reverence (Scott had been trying manfully to adapt McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” prior), it feels like Scott barely has the tiger (or perhaps the twin leopards) of McCarthy’s screenplay by the tail. The mechanical plot is incomprehensible, and the characterization almost non-existent: there’s a lot of speechifying, much of which is deliriously McCarthyish in its parboiled, misanthropic, self-interested philosophy, but everyone sounds the same and while we watch the unnamed lawyer see greed essentially dismantle his life, we’re never given a single reason to care. In fact, it’d be a complete dud, but to be fair, some of the monologues, and the more outre moments, such as the fabulously gory violence (Pitt’s death scene is awesome) and the already infamous Cameron Diaz-humping-a-Ferrari-windshield bit make it a fascinatingly tacky and tasteless one, which kind of drags it up a notch. Call it Ridley Scott’s “The Paperboy.” [C-]

READ MORE: Ridley Scott Says He Prefers Director’s Cut Of ‘The Counselor,’ Mocks Fox Studio’s Prudishness

Exodus: Gods and Kings” (2014)
Exotically, extravagantly bad though “The Counselor” was, we’d probably take it over the exotic, extravagant would-be epic that followed: “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is worse than Scott in a tailspin: it’s Scott on autopilot. Somehow sapping the dynamism from a story that features a whole ten plagues and a rather famous moment involving the Red Sea, ‘Exodus’ dull script, Scott’s CG-heavy execution and Christian Bale’s dull-as-paint Moses make this Biblical disaster film both overblown and undernourished. In fact, the whole endeavor works best as a companion piece to make us appreciate just what an interesting weird job Darren Aronofsky did with “Noah.” Anyway, we digress, which is easy to do when trying to think about ‘Exodus,’ which the mind just slides off, only really snagging on Joel Edgerton’s laudably committed turn as Ramses. Even clad in the most outrageous of outfits and slathered in tangerine tan, Edgerton manages to create some believeable moments, but not enough to save ‘Exodus’ whose few redeeming features (Edgerton; Ben Mendelsohn; a few semi-interesting moments in which ancient politics take on topical relevance) are mostly washed away by crashed waves of boredom by the end. [C-]

“The Martian” opens this week, while the astonishingly busy Scott has the confusingly titled “Prometheus” sequelAlien: Paradise Lost” lined up to direct afterward (with duly lowered expectations), and about 400 other potential projects on his upcoming production schedule. 

— Jessica Kiang, Oli Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez & Kevin Jagernauth

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