Five reasons Ridley Scott still matters

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Here we go again.

By next month another “Bible epic” hits cinemas everywhere.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is the latest monumental epic from director Ridley Scott and stars an ensemble cast, including Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver.

Exodus is a large-scale retelling of the Old Testament's most dramatic volume: how Moses freed the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.

(It shouldn't be confused with an earlier Exodus movie starring Paul Newman, or the animated The Prince of Egypt, or Charlton Heston's The Ten Commandments, or even the Bong Revilla MMFF production.)

Although Scott's Exodus teased special effects that would impress Cecil B. DeMille in its trailers, whether humankind needs another version of an old tale is a question mark.

But it's a Ridley Scott movie and the British director never half-assess a production even when it's panned by critics—anyone remember Prometheus?

Here are a handful of whys to go see the veteran directors' newest opus.

Details, details

Whether it's the glory of Rome (Gladiator) or chilling claustrophobia (Alien), Ridley Scott knows how to immerse his audience in a story's setting.

Scott's style—if there is such a thing—is conveying the sum of many small parts in a single shot. This is best seen in the cult sci-fi flick Blade Runner and Black Hawk Down, the latter involving a cast of hundreds.

With Exodus, Scott brings to life the breathtaking wonder of ancient Egypt like never before.

Big business

To be fair, Scott isn't a director in love with the art of film making.

Although his vision is formidable, Scott (as well as his belated brother Tony) cut their teeth on TV and advertising.

The elder Scott even launched his own production company, Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), to make more money from shooting commercials.

And the reason why the Scott brothers have done so many movies is simple—for the money.

When a studio sets aside a budget, it can be sure it's well spent in Scott's hands. If the movie proves a stinker, i.e. Robin Hood or A Good Year, it's no problem. Scott will have another movie out a year and a half later.

Besides, Scott admits he prefers being paid a lot for movies. It's what he loves about Hollywood.

All the right buttons

His very first movie came from the farthest corner of left field.

Having spent more than a decade shooting hundreds of commercials, Ridley Scott pooled his money for The Duellists, a sweeping saga set in Napoleonic France.

In it, Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine spend their lives settling an old score.

The Duellists is considered by some to be Scott's best film and for good reason—it has action, drama, great production, and a sense of urgency.

These same elements would reappear in Scott's best work, like Blade Runner, Gladiator, or the much panned GI Jane starring Demi Moore.

No saccharine nonsense

Sure, Thelma and Louise is a modern classic, but even when he's dealing with women, Scott doesn't let emotional mush get in the way.

By surveying his films, women do get their fair share of hard work and big problems to deal with, whether it's Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in Alien, the dazzling Eva Green's embattled queen in Kingdom of Heaven, or Julianne Moore in Hannibal.

It's tough being a woman in Scott's cinematic world.

And he wastes little time dwelling on romance too.

Acting caliber

Sure, he has enough clunkers under his belt to sink a few lesser careers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ridley Scott has delivered more than a handful of timeless movies.

This is because he works with a lot of fine actors. For Exodus he brings together Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as the proud Pharaoh Ramses II.

That's quite heavy.

His films are littered with talent: Jeremy Irons, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Fassbender, Russell Crowe, Jason Isaacs, Eric Bana, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Joaquin Phoenix, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Strong, Eva Green, Gary Oldman, Susan Sarandon, Noomi Rapace, and many, many others.

Sure, Exodus: Gods and Kings may have an aura of been there/done that. For the sake of Ridley Scott's magic touch, however, it might be worth seeing.

The Hebrews break free in local cinemas on December 5. Catch them in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D format.

 

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