Thoughts on “Evolution” (2001)

Evolution is what happens when you try and remake the Ghostbusters for the 21st century, not realising that what made the ghostbusters great and what makes Evolution bloody awful is that it is completely of its time and yet somehow timeless. Evolution, on the other hand is dated, regressive, and utterly stupid.

It is easy to write off the 2001 summer blockbuster which failed to bust anyone’s proverbial block simply as a harmless, middle of the road popcorn movie, and I feel that that’s exactly what happened when the early noughties critics witnessed it. The movie is a perfect example of a who cares flick. Looking back on it 17 years post release, it boggles the mind how people don’t hate on this film more, because if there’s one thing this film deserves it is hatred.

The two leads, David Duchovny and Orlando Jones, play the parts of Ira Kane and Harry block, geology professors for an Arizona community college, investigate a mysterious asteroid which fell to earth and destroyed Sean William Scott’s car. The two scientists discover that the asteroid carries complex microorganisms that grow and reproduce faster than gremlins at a pool party. Thus, the Ghostbusters equivalence rears its poorly rendered head, as dated CGI mutant dinosaurs run amok

Sounds like harmless fun, right? Sounds like the kind of movie that could capture the original spirit of the Ghostbusters, of course not quite rising to the heights that that movie did, but perhaps presenting itself as something to fill the void for fans of the original film. Surely with Ivan Reitman directing, Dan Aykroyd playing a supporting role and David Duchovny’s wry wit in the lead, this film could truly be entertaining, right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

First of all, the pacing is completely flat. The film meanders, choosing to have long extended scenes of people talking and explaining to the audience in a manner so condescending and uninteresting it would make the opening title crawl of Star Wars blush. The film cuts from these long, boring scenes to maybe a five minutes sequence of someone getting mauled by one of the mutant creatures, mistaking a hideous, clearly non-mammalian animal for a dog, possibly in an attempt to make you laugh.

The scenes of inane chatter wouldn’t be so offensive if the characters were anything other than cardboard cut-outs masquerading as people. Duchovny who is usually a compelling and witty actor totally fails to emote or communicate any slight indication that he may be feeling an emotion. He delivers his lines in a monotone drawl, and his attempts at comedy fall flat.

Orlando Jones’ performance does little in the way of saving it, going too far in the other direction where he is so frantic and loud that he becomes obnoxious. The portrayal of Harry Block is also one of the most offensive in the film. Every time he opens his mouth, it is to say something either sexist, racist or homophobic. The amount of sex jokes he makes in the film make you seriously question if the writers were professional Hollywood hacks, or twelve-year-old boys who copy and paste from Sickipedia. During one of his many sexist quips, a friend of mine simply muttered “you are a monster.” Perhaps the most apt use of that word I have ever heard.

Gillian Anderson makes a shocking appearance in the film as plucky female lead, who endures the most dull and simplistic female scientist stereotype. She is bookish, unwieldy, and clumsy. One of her key characteristics is her clumsiness, in fact. It doesn’t have a payoff. Her clumsiness never saves the day or anything like that. The writing of her character simply leeks of laziness. Of course, there is an eye rolling romance element, which feels totally unearned due to the lack of chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny.

Comparing the set-up of the characters to the ones in Ghostbusters makes one go red with embarrassment for the movie. The chemistry of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson was the Atlas that held the flimsy premise of that wonderful film up. Any scene in Ghostbusters is a joy to watch – you don’t even need context, you just need to appreciate the carefully crafted brand of humour that the actors and writers brought together. Lightning in a bottle.

Evolution is the sorry step-son of Ghostbusters, fundamentally misunderstanding what makes that movie great, or perhaps even understanding it but missing the mark so hard it hurts.

The climax of the movie is sickening. Basically, the life forms from the asteroid accelerate their evolution when exposed to fire. The government plan to blow up the next obviously provides enough fire for there to be a huge growth, and the big bad final boss reveals itself as a Lovecraftian tentacle monster. If you can’t kill it with fire, what can you kill it with? Are you ready to find out? Im not sure you are. Ready?

Head. And. Shoulders.

The dandruff shampoo.

Yes.

Product placement defeats the monsters.

I’m sorry.

So our plucky gang of stereotypes fill a fire truck with the shampoo which apparently holds the chemical which is poisonous to the creatures. In a final set piece, Orlando Jones climbs all the way up the fire truck ladder, inserts the hose pipe in the monsters rectum, and in Dan Aykroyd’s words, administers a “jumbo enema”.

If there’s one image that should tell you everything you need to know about the film, it’s the image of Harry Block being abducted by a tentacle monsters quivering sphincter.

Evolution is an embarrassing farce. It shouldn’t be seen by anyone, and fails to hold your attention for longer than five minutes, which incidentally is how long it takes for you to forget whats happening in the film. Boring, painful, obvious and gross, Evolution is the film that hurts the most.

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Brawl in Cell Block 99 – A Vince-story of Violence

Brawl in Cell Block 99 has no right to be as good as it is. A gritty character study of a man’s descent into the depths of the US penal system whilst also warring with drug cartels is 1) not at all what I expected from the abysmal poster and 2) not at all what I expected Vince Vaughn to be a leading man in. But I have to say, despite these things, it was really quite good.

brawl in cell block 99Vaughn’s performance as strong and silent Bradley Thomas is without doubt the highlight of the picture. Thomas’ steely veneer and simple, economic use of language gives him a compelling air of mystery. You never know when the man is about to burst into fists of rage. Our first encounter with said fists comes at the start of the film. Having just been laid off and discovering his wife’s (Jennifer Carpenter) infidelity, he literally beats up a car. It is glorious and over the top, and yet manages to be nuanced and undercut by the pain in Vaughn’s eyes.

This seriousness that Vaughn carries in his massive body is what sells his performance. It is easy to write Vaughn off as a comedy actor, but Brawl reminds you that he can act. The role doesn’t demand too much range, as moments of emotional relief are few and far between, but it is possible to watch the film and see Bradley Thomas, rather than Swingers’ Trent Walker.

In terms of plot, it is fairly straightforward. The reluctant Bradley, having been laid off, reluctantly takes on the role of drug mule for his dodgy friend. Things go awry, and he finds himself facing seven years in a mid-level prison. The disgruntled cartel whose job got busted see fit to make Bradley Thomas pay some nebulous debt.

Bradley Thomas is a man who is repeatedly beaten by the system but refuses to take it lying down. The utter helplessness of Thomas is almost comical. The progenitor of his situation, his choice to take up the criminal life, is the result of indiscriminate economic injustice – hardly his fault. His decision to opt out of the “honest” life is a clear response to a system that has treated him poorly.

The over the top levels of violence in Brawl provides some levity for the otherwise bleak tone of the film. Fans of smarter action flicks like The Raid and John Wick will be well served here. But I feel as though Brawl, whilst not bearing the pretences of a film rich in depth, clearly has something a lot deeper going on with its themes of violence, birth and rebirth, and the righteous indignation of one man against the system. I think it would suit a double billing with Oldboy, another movie which uses over the top violence to transcend its genre.

Some criticisms I would level at it would be the lack of any soundtrack or original score. This is very much intentional, and I respect the decision – you cannot help but listen to the quiet isolation of the characters’ situations. There are many things that a soundtrack can bring to a film, however, and this movie was just asking for a John Carpenter-esque soundtrack to enhance the mood of certain scenes. The action scenes in particular, though entertaining in the brutal simplicity of the choreography, can feel a little stunted at times which I think some composition could have really aided.

Although I stated previously that I feel there is more going on beneath the surface, I am not sure if Brawl is the most important film on the topics which it touches on. I would sooner revisit a film like Oldboy or Drive, which are superb action dramas with unfathomable depth. So, whilst I recommend Brawl in Cell Block 99, maybe temper your expectations. I wonder how much of the film would have truly worked if not for Vaughn’s stellar performance.

Just a few thoughts about Stan Lee and his legacy

It truly saddens me to hear the news of Stan Lee’s passing. The 95-year-old creative visionary has touched the lives of so many people, but that goes without saying. You don’t get to be blessed with a long life without influencing a few things, and Stan Lee is arguably one of the most influential people that the 20th century has produced, at least in terms of popular culture.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man came out in 2002, just in time to capture my six year old imagination. To this day, I cite Spiderman as being my favourite superhero. His banality is what made him so wonderful – anyone could be Spiderman. The projection of the self onto Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker was impossible to ignore.

You believed in Peter Parker, in Uncle Ben’s wisdom, in the Green Goblin’s menace. You believed that you could be Spiderman. Of course, when you get older, you realise you can’t actually be Spiderman in a literal sense, but there’s always a part of Spiderman that persists within you. And that truism that Cliff Barker utters to Toby Maguire has stuck with me since first hearing it; “With great power comes great responsibility.”

The influence of Marvel on the landscape on cinema is that of both trend-setting and technical bar-setting. Marvel’s interconnected web of a universe was the first successful attempt to connect a series of films in a non-linear fashion. The result of this was almost every major film studio imitating Marvel, playing catch up, without understanding what makes the MCU work. Technology-wise, I’ll say this – no one talks about how amazing the visual effects in modern blockbusters are any more. They just are. And Marvel had the means to make dazzling effects industry standard.

I suppose the point I am trying to make is that Stan Lee was a man of great ambition, who harnessed his great creative potential to create a pantheon of modern gods, complete with our own human flaws and desire – our shadows which desire for power and destruction of our enemies are tempered by the heroic personas which strive for peace and balance. The two most powerful forces within the human psyche are put into colourful robes and played out on million-dollar stages.

Stan Lee, rest in peace.

Excelsior.

“Jason X” – the X is for “xxxx this movie”

Jason X is a joyless, irritating instalment in the long running Friday the 13th franchise. The usual associations we make with the Friday the 13th series are fun, gory deaths being delivered to obnoxious teenagers. We think of Jason Voorhees, we think of sleeping bag with a camp counsellor inside being pulped against a tree. We think of camp, gory fun.

Jason X has none of these things. It is hardly violent. Bar a couple of scenes, most kills happen off screen. There is only one iconic kill, in which a lady has her head frozen in liquid nitrogen and then smashed into a million pieces, which also counts towards one of the only funny parts of the film

I watched the film on a whim, knowing nothing about the film, and being basically unfamiliar with the franchise as a whole, and came away incredibly disappointed. I felt like demanding amazon give me compensation for allowing me to watch this film for free.

The writing behind Jason X is so cringe inducing, unfunny, so counter to Friday the 13th, that I can only conclude that their experience of the franchise is them listening to the film whilst it plays through a HAM radio in a goldfish bowl.

The characters are written as futuristic Vice editors who indulge in hedonism for the sake of it. They have little depth rather than the amount of skin they can get under before you freeze yourself, wait a thousand years in the future and smack them in their gaudy malnourished faces.

Jason X is a film which belongs in the dungeon – it dawdles along in an unimaginative sci-fi universe, stopping for only the crudest jokes, dispassionately offing its cast with the enthusiasm of a toddler at church. It shows promise when Jason gets an upgrade, but this is merely a shiny distraction from the smouldering turd that is the rest of the film. It might provide some mild entertainment, if only to see the tragic trajectory of the Friday the 13th franchise. There are also early progenitors for the Resident Evil movie franchise laden within – the final fight between Jason and the android lady strongly resembles Resident Evil’s Alice in both appearance and action, as she flails wildly with her legs and dual wielding pistols in a set piece which induces more cringe than awe.

So, if you’re interested in the origins of Resident Evil’s schlocky origins, check it out. If not, check out any of the other movies in the franchise.

Freddy vs Jason does it better.

Happy Halloween!

Horror Movies You Might Not Have Seen To Watch This Halloween

Horror is one of the most oversaturated genres in film which means there’s a lot of dumb, bland, boring crap out there which you shouldn’t waste your time with. I would like to help you in that timesaving activity by recommending some of my favourite, less well known horror movies.

  1. The House of the Devil

This slow-burn indie horror by indie auteur Ti West is a masterpiece in setting up atmosphere and tension. A young woman who is struggling financially agrees to housesit for a creepy older couple in their old, gothic mansion for a handsome fee. This simple premise pays homage to the classic horror films of the 70s and 80s, as well as the look of the movie being drenched in nostalgia, from the grainy filter and washed out colours to the simple and effective lighting.

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The House of the Devil (2009)

The film is incredibly creepy, achieving masterfully tense and drawn out scenes that never seem to drag or get boring. The film may seem like it would get boring, as most of the film is focused on one performance, our heroine Samantha (Jocelyn Donahue), but her quiet yet distinguished demeanour and subtle facial tells are powerful enough to keep the audience involved through periods of abject stillness.

West’s direction makes it so that every creek and whisper has as much impact as a gong struck out of nowhere. The final act of the film ramps things up to delightfully devilish heights which I won’t spoil. All I’ll say is that this is a simple, quiet little horror film that rewards those who stick with it by really getting under your skin.

2. Green Room

Whilst not technically a horror film in the traditional sense, Green Room is more terrifying than most mainstream horror films of the last few years because it chooses to hold a mirror up to the most terrifying monster of all – man!

Jeremy Saulnier directs in his third feature film a cast of sheer class in this movie of sordid darkness and amoral depravity. Punk rock band the Ain’t Rights fronted by Anton Yelchin are touring through the Pacific Northwest when they get hooked with a gig in some backwoods. The dingy bar where they agree to play is actually a skinhead headquarters, creating an atmosphere of hostility and isolation. After the band witness a murder in the green room, they are told by the leader of the skinhead group, Patrick Stewart that they are not allowed to leave. Then things turn ugly.

Green Room is a film you watch when you need to feel miserable, when you need to be reminded of the potential human beings have to be shitty to each other. Like a good horror film, the film forces you to place yourself in the mind of the main characters as you question what you might do if you were trapped in a hopeless situation. The film does an excellent job of making the audience feel as helpless as the characters as they are subjected to torment after brutal torment in their attempts to escape.

The film is beautifully ugly, and uses its violence budget generously but appropriately. Green Room is a watch that will satisfy certain nihilistic appetites, whilst instilling in you the feeling of utter misery, as many a horror film tries and fails to achieve.

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Green Room (2015)

3. The Guest

Another somewhat unconventional choice for the list, The Guest is more of a thriller than a horror film, but it is set at halloween so I think it counts. Collaborating for the second time, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett deliver a wonderfully creepy take on the mysterious stranger movie trope.

A family bereaved at the loss of their son who died in military service are paid a visit by someone who claims to be their son’s former friend and army buddy. The distraught family are taken by the charms of this mysterious stranger and enjoy having him around as he seems to make everything better. It is only the oldest daughter, played by Maika Monroe (It Follows) who suspects something is awry. The titular guest is played by Dan Stevens, who delivers a wonderfully creepy and charming performance. The chemistry between Monroe and Stevens is one of the best parts of the movie, and seeing how Stevens manipulates events and the people around him is just so unsettling. The performance part Patrick Bateman, part Terminator, part Michael Myers, resulting in an antagonist that you hate to love and love to hate.

The cinematography of the film is wonderfully nostalgic, incorporating the techniques of John Carpenter in a way which pays tribute to the horror master. The soundtrack adds to the film’s nostalgic atmosphere, having a similar effect on the film as the soundtrack for Drive did. Give it a watch if you have the chance, as this film deserves more recognition than it was ever given on release.

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The Guest (2014

4. Def by Temptation

A change of pace now. Def by Temptation‘s place on this list is earned by its ambition and charm, not by its quality. Unlike the other films on this list, Def by Temptation does not bare the mark of a skilled director, nor is the acting particularly good. It is camp, hammy and utterly hilarious.

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Def by Temptation (1990)

The general plot is this – a bar in New York City is frequented by mainly male patrons who are there to pick up women. One woman in particular draws the attention of the womanising populous, and she may or may not be a demon.

The film has wonderfully corny dialogue and heavy handed religious symbolism. The main character, played by James Bond III, is also the films writer, director and producer, indicating that the film is a passion project for the young artist. And you can tell that JB3 has a lot of love for horror films of the eighties, as there are parts very heavily reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street, David Cronenberg and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead.

Samuel L Jackson is also in it, but clearly this is before he was a breakout star as he plays a very minor role. That doesn’t stop the producers from putting his face all over the box art to *ahem* convince you to watch the movie. Despite his notable underuse in the movie, there is still enough camp and body horror here to enjoy and keep you engaged, even if you’re laughing at it rather than with it.

5. Event Horizon

Before Paul W.S. Anderson, the third horseman of the Anderson-pocalypse, became a true hollywood hack, he once had a vision, and delivered this vision with his own voice and a true sense of style.

Event Horizon tells the story of the crew of the Lewis and Clark responding to a distress signal from the Event Horizon, a ship that went missing seven years prior. The ship, equipped with a gravity drive which allows for inter-dimensional space travel, has suddenly reappeared off Neptune’s orbit. Dr William Weir, played by Sam Neil, accompanies the crew as he is responsible for the design of the gravity drive. As the crew investigate what happened to the ship and it’s crew, things start going a little strange and… demonic.

Event Horizon manages to breathe new life into the stale sub-genre of horror, that of the haunted house but its a spaceship instead. The design of the Event Horizon is stunning, and the directing of Anderson is engaging though a little shallow, which is not really surprising if you look at the films he makes after this.

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Event Horizon (1997)

The inter-dimensional stuff is suitably creepy and intense, and aids the cosmic horror theme well. The threat of an ancient, unknown evil that wants nothing more than to cause pain and suffering to humans will never not be an entertaining and horrifying premise, and Anderson delivers here. Think David Cronenberg-esque body horror with dashes of Alien and Clive Barker, and you’ll get a sense of what this film is going for. Though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of greatness of its influences, it does satiate those space horror cravings. Really, this film is a monument to what Anderson could have been – a competent and entertaining horror director. Instead, he’s the Resident Evil guy.

6. Deathwatch

Deathwatch is a 2002 World War One horror movie, and it is essentially about a haunted trench. If that doesn’t sell it to you, I don’t know what will.

Nine British soldiers, lost behind enemy lines, take refuge in a trench in the midst of the Great War. As they claim the territory, things about the trench begin to unravel, and the soldiers begin to learn that war might quite literally be Hell.

The movie is a British-German project, cast and crew members from both nations being utilised in the production, which makes for a refreshing look at the conflict as it balances both “sides” of the story. However, a grand historical narrative this is not.

Deathwatch is, in my opinion an undiscovered classic. It is tense and well paced, choosing psychological torment over random jump-scares that are in abundance in contemporary horror. The trench comes alive, the shrapnel of warfare acting as a phantasmic backdrop for the mud and barbed wire to attack the soldiers from all directions. The soldier’s dwindling, war torn sanity plays a huge role in the film. Special mention to Andy Serkis, whose performance as the unhinged Private Quinn both terrifies and enraptures. The sheer brutality of his character would be enough to frighten anyone without any supernatural element.

Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis are now both house hold names. It is fun to visit a film like Deathwatch, the little film that could, to see how far those actors have come. It is strange to think that Return of the King was released a year later, possibly overshadowing Serkis’ performance in Deathwatch, but who can really say?

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Deathwatch (2002)

The Predator – a sporadically interesting waste of time

In going to see The Predator, I held two expectations in my head. The first was the expectation of quality, which I expected to be average. I wasn’t expecting the class or restraint of the original, but I was at least hoping for the same level of enjoyment one gets from a violent and self-aware action flick. Shane Black, who is a normally quite consciously funny writer and director (Monster Squad, and more recently The Nice Guys have strong comedic veins running alongside fun, well-paced action) returning to the franchise that gave him legs could only go well, right? Well, I would say I enjoyed the film, but not for the right reasons.

The general premise of the film is weirdly similar to the 2007 film Alien vs Predator: Requiem. Predators arrive in America and wind up in a showdown with humans in a suburban town. The fact that Requiem even made it into my mind is a travesty.

As an aside, this film is not as bad as Requiem.

Super army man who isn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger (Boyd Holbrook) is on a super-secret mission to take out some cartel leaders in central America. He’s a hotshot rogue who shoots first and asks questions later. Moments after giving the cartel leader a cranial rearrangement, predators literally crash into the film.

Immediately, any tension that could have been built is lost. A brief, uninteresting firefight with the Predator and Holbrook ends inexplicably with our protagonists acquiring of predator tech, which he somehow knows how to use. He then posts this tech to his PO box which is opened by his child (his mum thinks it’s a video game).

There are government agents who come and investigate the crash, men in black style. We are introduced to our villain (in a Predator movie, the predator isn’t the main villain). Sterling K Brown plays a fairly hammy and entertaining baddy, but his motives for being as much of an arsehole as he is in the film pays no credit towards the characters believability. There is no real reason for his antagonistic nature – nobody is on the side of the predator really, are they? Shouldn’t an alien invader unite humanity despite political conflicts?

The movie jumps around in location, from jungle to suburbia to government lab in the first twenty minutes. This constantly changing environment does no favours to the already deflated tension of the film. The frantic changing between characters and locations happens so frequently that the looming threat of a space hunter whose motives are a mystery and whose technology and strength is far beyond our comprehension seems like an afterthought. There are times when the Predator turns up and I actually couldn’t remember the last time I saw him.

There are certainly good moments in the film. The ragtag group of mentally ill soldiers each has their entertaining quirks. Keegan Michael Key is the joker of the pack, Thomas Jane has Tourette’s syndrome and swears a lot, and the rest are just generally dirty reprobates who attempt to Boyd Holbrook and Olivia Munn’s blandness, to undetermined levels of success.

Olivia Munn’s performance as science lady is at best passable and at worst cringe inducing. Her profession as a biologist gives her government clearance to see a predator at a lab, but her reaction is less scientific and more like a dude bro saying “woah shit dude, you seen that f***ing thing?” In fact, all the scientists in this movie for the brief time they’re in it do not act like professional scientists examining an extra-terrestrial. One part in particular made my eyes roll back into my head, where Sterling K Brown is introducing the predator to Olivia Munn, and he actually calls it the predator. When Olivia Munn says that the name doesn’t make any sense, Brown simply retorts: “Well, we took a vote, and we all think Predator sounds cooler,” and then the whole lab cheered, and I died a little inside.

Jacob Tremblay, who plays Holbrook’s son, does a fine job with the material given, but what the movie decides to do with his character is baffling. In fact, his presence in the film altogether is questionable. The character has autism, and the film decides to treat autism as a super power. I’m not an expert in autism or anything, but I don’t think having autism would make a young child capable of translating and understanding an alien language. But the movie does and decides to make the child the core of the story, which turns into the government seeking the boy out, so he can get them on to the alien ship. I shouldn’t have to say why this doesn’t make any sense.

He also swears an awful lot which adds to the cringe inducing quippy dialogue of the film.

Long gone are the simple yet effective genre blends of yesteryear. The single location, slow build of tension and satisfying brutality of the original film is a far cry from the epileptic incoherency of The Predator.

And that’s the film, really. An incoherent mess of cheese, juvenile humour and meaningless action, with about twenty minutes of tacked-on Predator-ing towards the end, leaving the viewer ultimately confused and dissatisfied. I have deliberately not gone into plot spoilers as I think the film has to be seen to be believed how truly dumb the writing is. Don’t see this at the cinema, though. Wait for it to come on Channel 5 at eleven o clock on a Thursday evening, where it belongs.

Ridley Me This

With his recent recognition by the BAFTAs, and him coming into his 80th year, it seems apt that we reflect on the eclectic cinematic career of one of Britain’s most recognisable filmmakers – Ridley Scott.

Ridley_ScottRidley Scott is very much a visual film maker. From an early age he would draw obsessively, which lead him to study at the Royal college of Art in London, of which he said “I use everything I learned every day at art school. It’s all about white sheets of paper, pens and drawing.” He directed a plethora of commercials including one for Hovis known as “Bike Round” (1974) which was voted Britain’s favourite ad of all time, demonstrating his cinematic potential. However, though a lucrative industry, his creative itch he had discovered at art school could not be scratched by making commercials, and in 1977 he broke into the world of cinema with The Duellists.

The confident period piece, based on Joseph Conrad’s short story The Duel, won Scott the Best Debut Film award at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. Scott, who was 40 at the time, had made his mark on the scene and, though the film enjoyed limited box office success, showed his ambition and reverence for the art form.

Of course, what marked Scott on the cinematic map was the 1979 sci fi horror classic Alien. The dark iconography of the film is continually referenced and parodied to this day, a testament to Scott’s keen eye for visual affects and cinematography. It also gave us Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), one of cinema’s most revered and beloved protagonists. The strong female lead paved a new way for tough female characters in the overcrowded male locker room of leading roles. I could go on forever talking about Alien, and it is because of Ridley Scott’s skills as an auteur that I am able to. Every film he made after this could have been garbage, and it would be ok because he made this.alien1979Gb300512

Thankfully, that was not the case, and in 1982 the world was gifted another sci fi classic, Blade Runner. The legendary film was an opportunity for Scott’s artistic spirit to run free, allowing his neo-urban style in alien to develop into a full blown dystopian city. Dark blues and blacks fill the screen, and the audience is lulled into a world which never sees the light of day. Technology and biology become uncomfortably close and the audience is forced to question what it means to be human. Like Alien, Blade Runner will forever be in internet top ten lists, and with good reason.

Blade Runner ran on blades when it was released, however, and tanked at the box office. Legend, his follow up fantasy film, which won an academy award for the iconic Satan-like costume worn by big bad Tim Curry, was also a financial failure. Though both films were original and interesting (Blade Runner arguably more so), the audience in the eighties wasn’t there. Alien had set the bar for sci fi and horror, but James Cameron’s sequel Aliens moved the bar completely, and audiences for better or for worse responded to the campy fun of the then brand-new eighties action movie. Blade-Runner-1982-SS06

Black Rain and Someone Watch Over Me came next, and whilst not being financial failures, failed to set the world on fire. Thelma and Louise, the iconic feminist road movie was an instant classic and revived the director’s career. However, the passion project period piece 1492: Conquest of Paradise was a total failure. Thus ends the first wave of Ridley Scott.

Scott’s second wave can be said to be in the early 2000’s. His swords-n-sandals epic Gladiator (2000) had all the passion that his early films had in them, and this time his audience was there. The awards for this film are five in total, including Best Picture and Best Actor. This was the first of many huge successes for Scott, solidifying his position as one of cinema’s most important players. Black Hawk Down (2001) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005) channelled both the gritty and grand hallmarks that defined his early career. Scott’s reverence for epics like Lawrence of Arabia clearly informed his tastes as there is an undeniably epic flavour to everything he does, regardless of the success of his projects.

Contemporary Scott has seen the director in a position that feels able to go back to the Alien franchise, as he attests that he always intended. Recent instalments, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant seek to discover the answers audiences have been asking since their first encounter with the terrifying xenomorphs. Both films have been met with mixed critical reception, and found respectable box office success. I personally found Prometheus to be a very enjoyable, if flawed, return to the franchise. I’d rather not talk about Alien: Covenant.

Whether or not you enjoy his films, it is undeniable that Ridley Scott has played a very important and permanent role in the world of cinema. One thing we can all take from him is that he has an uncompromising vision, and follows his creativity to the end, for better or for worse.