Monday, November 5, 2007

What Say You: The Old or The New Ridley?

There are two Ridley Scott's that exist today. The BG Ridley (Before Gladiator) and the AG Ridley (After Gladiator). The BG Ridley did movies like Alien, Blade Runner, Legend, Black Rain and Thelma & Louise. Movies that didn't always receive high critical acclaim and didn't do gangbusters at the box office, but they were at best brilliant and at least interesting movie nonetheless. Movies that felt like they belonged to Ridley Scott and no one else. Every frame had his fingerprints all over them. Blade Runner is not a Harrison Ford movie nor a Philip K. Dick movie. Legend does indeed have it's flaws, but I would never pass up the opportunity to watch it again, or praise it. And Thelma & Louise received lots of press for its subject matter, but it still felt like a very personal movie. Ridley however was buried beneath the epic weight of Gladiator. Hannibal felt like a Ridley was plugged in to deliver a lesser sequel. And Black Hawk Down was a Jerry Bruckheimer movie and Ridley the new Michael Bay.

American Gangster was released this past weekend and some like Nick Davis of Nick's Flick Picks expressed his ho-hummness about it and I honestly can't blame him. The subject matter is interesting, but I don't feel like I'll be seeing a Ridley Scott movie. In a quest for commercial respect, I feel Ridley has lost his once strong identity and may never find it again. But that's just me.



Burbanked said...

"And Black Hawk Down was a Jerry Bruckheimer movie and Ridley the new Michael Bay."

Yowch. I can appreciate the point you're making about a classically aesthetic director making more audience-friendly movies, but damn that's harsh. Are you sure that you didn't mean to say "Ridley the new Tony [Scott]?" It still makes the point, but perhaps in a more parallel and less extreme way.

The unfortunate truth is that too many directors want to be "the new Michael Bay". I'd still choose crappy Scott - either one - over Bay, Ratner and the others eight ways to Sunday.

I do get your point. Just...damn!

* (asterisk) said...

Ridley BG is by far the more interesting prospect. That's not to say he hasn't delivered good work since Gladiator; nor that there weren't some duds before.

Sheamus the... said...

Old Ridley all the way...old Tony too. There is massive change in his style as well. I think it started with his short "Beat the Devil"

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. Ridley has lost the ability or interest in long, well-composed edits. Instead, he has adopted - much to his detriment - the fast-cutting style of people you mention like Bay.

Ridley is a much more contemplative filmmaker. The slow pacing of his films adds to the mystery of his subjects. He is not a natural action director.

PIPER said...


Yeah, a tad harsh. Didn't seem that way when I wrote it. His work is becoming more Tony Scott like but that's even hard for me to say because I like some of Tony's work.

Moviezzz, your point is right on. Ridley's work is becoming less unique. It's like Van Sant after he made Good Will Hunting. They stopped being his movies and started being (plug in movie director here).


Good points about the editing. You're correct that his movies just played out more organically. Now I feel like I'm just being manipulated.

Joe Baker said...

Neither. I'll take the work of his brother Tony anyday over Ridley!

Damian Arlyn said...

It's really funny that you should ask this question right now, Piper, because just this weekend my father and I journeyed to Portland to see Blade Runner on the big screen (something I had been waiting fifteen years to do) and on the two-hour drive back to Corvallis we talked about Ridley a lot. He happens to be one of my dad's favorite directors (along with Michael Mann, Sidney Lumet and Marty Scorsese) although he both agreed that he hasn't done anything quite equal to the brilliance of Alien or Blade Runner, he's come close.

I agree with you that there is a slight difference in aesthetic between "younger" Ridley and "older" Ridley, but at their core all Ridley films seem (to me at lest) to be essentially the same. In truth, I really don't see as much difference between, say, Black Hawk Down and Black Rain as others apparently do. I'm not so sure that there really are two Ridleys. If you're right, though, then I guess I like both of them and am not prepared to say which one is necessarily "better" (just as I'm not ready to say the younger, more "fantastic" Spielberg is superior to the older, more "mature" Spielberg or that I prefer the darker, more "serious" Woody, to the lighter, more funny one).

* (asterisk) said...

Piper, I'd challenge the Van Sant comment. I don't think Gerry, Elephant, or Last Days could be made by A.N. Other. I'm not a fan of Van Sant personally; just sayin', is all!

brian said...

I don't think he'll ever beat Blade Runner and Alien.

But he's still doing it. He's still making movies that I want to see.

His brother Tony seems to be coming on. I found Domino very watchable entertainment.

PIPER said...


I haven't seen Gerry so I can't comment on that, but I was no fan of Elephant and not sure that Van Sant brought any style to that other shots that lasted about five minutes longer than they should have. What passed by critics as breakthrough justed seemed like lazy and uninspired to me.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I say he's an original and although I enjoyed many of his BG movies than AG movies, I still think he is an excellent director and look forward to seeing his films.

Black Hawk Down was excellent, and I don't usually watch war movies.

On the Gerry/Elephant Van Sant note - Gerry is worth watching. I wasn't impressed with Elephant (and didn't like Paranoid Park either), but Gerry remains one of my favourite films ever.

Anonymous said...

You very rarely see brilliance sustained for an entire career. This kind of thing happens to even the greatest artists.

Ridley deserves props for what he's brought to cinema. Alien will always be in my top 10, as will Blade Runner. And I might be one of the few who thought Gladiator was a pretty good flick. Haven't seen Black Hawk Down or the others, so I'll have to take your word.

At least he's still at it. You gotta give him that.