Ridley Scott

Prometheus 2

Prometheus, are you reading this? No really, are you reading this? According to The Wrap, the “Untitled Ridley Scott Project” slated for 2016 that has been such a mystery for so long now is Prometheus 2. After 20th Century Fox announced a whole slate of movies through 2018, with a blip in the schedule for 2016 for Scott’s mysterious film of the unknown, speculations were ablaze at what the director could be cooking up as his next move. Another Blade Runner movie to follow up the reboot he’s currently working on? That would’ve been cool, wouldn’t it? A completely new film unconnected to a franchise without any expectations? Real rad. Instead, we’re getting the sequel to the unofficial prequel to the Alien franchise. It’s not as if this news wasn’t coming sooner or later; In 2012, Prometheus was a box office hit, raking in $400m worldwide. But what it wasn’t was a critical darling. The film was a bit of an all-around mess — let’s not kid ourselves. Spoilers ahead.

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review the counselor

The Counselor is one of the most cinematic and uncinematic movies of the year. It’s the former because director Ridley Scott used  the production to craft a beautifully uncomfortable atmosphere, truly evoking the themes, ideas, and visuals of scribe Cormac McCarthy‘s writing. Yet, it’s uncinematic because, to no one’s surprise, McCarthy loves to do things his own way. The movie doesn’t give you conventional exposition, backstory, or whatever else audiences might expect from easily digestible and normative filmmaking. The lead, The Counselor (Michael Fassbender), isn’t given a name. Why? Because he doesn’t need one. But the film isn’t vague – it tells you everything you need to know. The script itself is a slightly different matter. The people who loathed The Counselor, of which there are many, based on its D Cinema Score and a current rating of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, would have torn the screen apart if  Scott used everything that McCarthy provided for him on the page. The script is just that good. Scott’s final product contains both minor and major deviations in McCarthy’s script (which reads more as a novel than a traditional screenplay), and following are ten of the most notable changes.

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boy-and-bicycle

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. It’s not often we see a short film debut by someone of Ridley Scott‘s generation. And even if one does exist and is made available on the Internet, the copy tends to be poor quality. Check out the film school works of Spielberg and Scorsese on YouTube and see what I mean. And those guys seem most likely to have preserved that early amateur stuff, or else embarrassingly kept it hidden away. Scott’s first film, though, still looks amazing after more than 50 years and even transferred to non-HD video. It’s not a total surprise. The 27-minute black and white short, Boy and Bicycle, was ultimately paid for by the British Film Institute, which probably retained a good print. So when it was time to include it on the DVDs for Scott’s first feature, The Duellists, it looked as well-cared for as any classic piece of cinema. Whether we can consider it a classic piece of cinema is something else entirely. Boy and Bicycle is about a boy and, yes, his bike. Played by Ridley’s younger brother, fellow future filmmaker Tony Scott, he’s almost the only character on screen. The parents we hear fighting off camera are Ridley and Tony’s parents and I think the old man at the end is their father. The plot sees the boy playing hooky and navigating the city of Billingham, UK, on […]

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review the counselor

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a man in love, but he is also a man who may have gotten himself in over his head when it comes to some of his more “off the books” business dealings. A lawyer by trade, The Counselor (who is only ever referred to as that) has also teamed up with some interesting partners and gotten himself involved in the business of drug smuggling, and nothing goes as it should. From its very first moment, The Counselor brings its audience into a world where nothing is shied away from. Director Ridley Scott creates a highly-stylized environment where every detail is accounted for, and this is also a world where the characters are as compelling as their surroundings. The Counselor is a man who can make even the most mundane conversation, whether talking about the clarity of diamonds or the fabric of lingerie, feel vital and important. Unfortunately, Cormac McCarthy’s script fails do the same. Fassbender’s Counselor has an almost rhythmic cadence when he speaks that makes you want to hear more, but McCarthy’s script keeps him from saying anything of real substance or helping to paint a clearer view of who this man truly is.

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prometheus-truth1

When Prometheus came out in the summer of 2012, it wasn’t just the die-hard Alien fans that took issue with it. People with an interest in real science also had some problems with the film. Granted, there were plenty of silly actions in the movie by brilliant so-called scientists, like taking off their helmets on potentially hostile alien worlds, trying to make friends with an evil cobra-headed acid worm, and being unable to run in any direction but a straight line. However, the question of a DNA match between humans and Engineers is maybe the most interesting element. For a film that should have been grounded at least partially in hard science, there seemed to be some problems with its basic presentation of high school genetics. After Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) brings the head of an Engineer back to her lab, only to have it spontaneous wake up and explode, she runs a DNA test on the head’s genetic material. A few seconds later, the computer screen comes alive with a graphic comparison, declaring a “DNA Match” to human beings. So that got us thinking. If we ever find ourselves with an exploded kind-of-human head in our lab, what are the chances it will be a genetic match to our own DNA?

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news ridley scott exodus

Just as Moses was mentor to Joshua, so was Walter mentor to Jesse. Both Joshua and Jesse served as assistant and apprentice to their older counterparts. Both stood by loyally during their mentors’ greatest battles. And both, at long last, were given blessings of invincibility and made leader of the Israelites. Ok, fine. Maybe Breaking Bad won’t end with Jesse leading the Jews into the Promised Land, but Ridley Scott‘s Exodus just might. Variety is reporting that Aaron Paul is in talks to play Joshua in the Biblical epic, with John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver having just landed the parts of Ramses’ parents. Deadline also has Ben Kingsley up for the part of a Hebrew scholar.

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The Counselor

After a puzzling teaser trailer left us scratching our heads and a first full-length trailer that gave us few details as to the film’s actual plot, the new trailer for Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor is offering the most cohesive look at the film so far. From previous material, we know that Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt have ridiculous costumes, Cameron Diaz writhes around on top of a car, and Michael Fassbender is in way, way over his head after making a massive drug deal. This time, we have a lot more to work with, plot-wise. Fassbender, as the eponymous counselor (or Counsellor, as the international trailer calls it), has grown accustomed to a lavish lifestyle with his fiancée, played by Penelope Cruz. But when legal work can’t keep it up, he turns to Bardem on the other side of the border to help him get into the drug business for some quick, hard cash. Easy, right? Of course, as you’ll see in the trailer below, his totally well-thought-out plan devolves into a violent catastrophe of explosions, bloodshed, and Fassbender tears when the drugs get stolen en route to the trade.

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edgerton

The first time we heard that Ridley Scott was thinking about putting together a Moses tale, word was that the project he was eyeballing was called Exodus, Fox was pressuring him to put it on the fast track, and he and the studio were trying their damnedest to get Christian Bale to attach himself as the film’s lead. Well, some exciting developments have gone down since then. Not only has Bale definitely agreed to come on board and grow a hipster beard to play Moses, but the film is also definitely set to go in front of cameras soon—likely as soon as September even. And now, in yet another bit of promising news, THR is reporting that rising star Joel Edgerton is negotiating to star opposite Bale.

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Cameron-Diaz-and-Penelope-Cruz-toppless-in-the-trailer-for-The-Counselor

The first teaser trailer we got for Ridley Scott’s The Counselor didn’t have much meat to it at all. We were introduced to a brief scenario where a wire stretched across a road caused a motorcycle accident, we caught a glimpse of Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt sporting silly hairdos, and then a shapely woman crawled across the hood of a car. It wasn’t exactly the sort of thing that let you know what the movie was all about. The new full-length trailer for the film though, well—it doesn’t really tell you all that much either. Actually, the new trailer contains about as much plot info as one of those obtuse “next week on Mad Men” teasers. But it does give us glimpses of a handsome and reluctant Michael Fassbender getting in over his head with some shady business, Bardem playing the devil character who convinces him to get involved, Pitt playing a bringer of doom, and Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz sharing a moment of danger-laced flirtation. So, even if we still don’t really know what this movie is going to be about exactly, who cares? It’s clearly got everything.

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The Counselor header

There’s a definite formula going for Javier Bardem. The wackier his haircut and outfit, the better the man’s performance. Think of that Dorothy Hamill ‘do in No Country for Old Men. Or his oh-so chic cream ensembles and bleached brows in Skyfall. Now gaze at these stills and tell me why I’m so excited to see The Counselor. The Ridley Scott film is an all-star ensemble that pairs Bardem with heavy-hitters like Cameron Diaz, real-life wife Penelope Cruz, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt, as seen through these newly released stills. While the beautiful people are clearly beautiful, Bardem and Diaz are the most interesting to look at; the couple knows how to dress. Flowing caftans, rose-tinted glasses, printed silk shirts – it’s like Hunter S. Thompson was a billionaire drug lord and not just a normal drug user. The film, from a Cormac McCarthy script (No Country for Old Men) centers on a lawyer (Fassbender) who is under the impression that he can make some quick cash by getting involved in the Mexican drug game, and then getting out just as easily. Check out the rest of the new stills after the break.

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teaser counselor

Of the many high profile films opening later this fall Ridley Scott‘s newest has seemed to exist in a rather quiet little bubble. It’s strange considering the director’s pedigree as well as that of his very recognizable and accomplished cast. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem are marquee names, and more than that they’re also considered to be some of Hollywood’s sexiest stars. The most impressive selling point for me though is that they’re all over 35 years old, meaning this just may be that rarest of Hollywood films… a big, dramatic thriller for adults. The Counselor comes from the pen of Cormac McCarthy, but unlike The Road or No Country for Old Men, this represents a departure for the writer in that it’s an original screenplay. The story follows a lawyer who finds himself involved in the dirty world of drug dealing millionaires who own cheetahs. Check out the first teaser below.

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Prometheus

Rejoice or groan, the sequel to Prometheus is moving forward. According to Variety, both Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender should return, and Jack Paglen – the writer of Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence — will be writing the script. Hopefully  all the cohesive elements of the screenplay that help make sense of everything will end up being in the movie this time around. But what else is there? Prometheus was so divisive that you’re either currently pumping your fist or pumping your fist with a sad look on your face. About the only general consequence is that it keeps Ridley Scott in this universe a little longer — theoretically preventing him from doing other projects. Although, presumably it’ll be holding him back temporarily from going back into other wells he’s drained before. So there’s that. The only confusing thing about this news is that Variety is claiming that this entry will “feel more like its own film” as opposed to Prometheus, which served to tie things into the Alien universe. That doesn’t make sense. How can a movie, a sequel, sandwiched between a universe-building story and a franchise with 6 entries, feel more like its own film? These and more questions to be answered if Fox decides they like the script enough to flash the green light.

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Moses

With The History Channel’s mini-series about the bible gaining headlines and pulling in big ratings over the past couple of weeks, the time seems right for Hollywood to be readying a new volley of biblical epics to put into theaters. And, sure enough, Deadline is reporting that there’s new movement on the two movies about Moses that Fox and Warner Bros. have been trying to put together for a while. First off comes the news that the Warner Bros epic, Gods and Kings, which has been described as being a large-in-scale retelling of Moses’ entire life, is no longer being looked at as a project that’s going to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Seeing as there’s another Moses project gearing up over at Fox, this has left the studio in something of a panic, so they’re looking at another director who’s recently seen success from making a highly visual and religious-themed film, Ang Lee, to take his place. The Life of Pi director reportedly hasn’t had any official meetings regarding the film, but appears to be interested. And what of that other Moses movie that Fox is doing? It’s called Exodus, and it’s something they’ve been putting together alongside Prometheus director Ridley Scott for a while. Ironically, the pressures stemming from this one already being in the works that have led to Warner Bros. giving the hard-sell of their movie to Ang Lee might now be leading to Exodus getting put on the fast track as well.

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Ridley Scott on Prometheus Set

With a project as massive as Prometheus, it’s nigh impossible to place blame on any single individual, but considering the original draft and the work he did adding incomprehensibility, it’s not unfair to ask Damon Lindelof what happened there. Maybe Ridley Scott and company won’t let him mess with the script to the sequel, which is being written right now. In an interview with The Playlist, Noomi Rapace confirmed that thoughts are being thunk, and words are finding their way to paper. “They’re working on the script,” the actress said. “I met Ridley in London a couple of weeks ago. I would love to work with him again and I know that he would like to do another one. It’s just like we need to find the right story. I hope we will.” Ah, the magic words. Finding the right story. Let’s also hope they find it, and that my headline turns out to be a tongue-in-cheek quip instead of a repeated reality for the franchise.

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IntroDirectorCameos

The beauty of being a director is that you can get killer screen time without the hassle of actually knowing how to act. Being a good director, however, is knowing not to haphazardly stick yourself in your films – at least not unless you’re Spike Lee or Woody Allen. Really it’s all about identifying your limitations. So here are some neat ways that a director opted to show up in their film without taking the spotlight at the same time. These are creative little cameos that you might never notice in a million years of watching.

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The Forever War Cover

After making a real stinker with Robin Hood, veteran director Ridley Scott seemed to get some of his mojo back by revisiting his Alien roots with his most recent film, Prometheus. Script problems aside, that movie had quite a bit going for it, not the least of which were a couple strong performances and a load of jaw-dropping visuals. So why not try to keep a good thing going by sticking to the sci-fi genre? To that end, Fox 2000 has optioned a classic sci-fi novel for the director to bring to the big screen. According to Deadline, the studio has hired Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters scribe Dante Harper to adapt Joe Haldeman’s Nebula- and Hugo-winning 1974 novel “The Forever War.” Scott himself describes the book as being, “a science-fiction epic, a bit of ‘The Odyssey’ by way of Blade Runner, built on a brilliant, disorienting premise.”

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Whether you loved Prometheus or hated it with every fiber of your being, you can’t deny the fact that it was at least successful in continuing a cinematic conversation about it long after it debuted in theaters. After the film’s Blu-ray release in October, the original script was leaked online, sparking a slew of articles to be written about the differences between it and the final film. (For a look at FSR’s take on that, check out J.F. Sargent’s The 8 Worst Parts of Prometheus Made Sense In the Original Script.) This week, coinciding with the leaking of that script, we’re going straight to the horse’s mouths about the writing of Prometheus. As interesting as Ridley Scott is, let’s lend an ear to the writers of the film as they discuss the differences in the many drafts of the film. If you haven’t seen the film yet, be warned: there are many spoilers in the discussion below. And on to the commentary…

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Prometheus Engineer

Whether you loved it or hated it, there’s no denying the fact that Prometheus was pretty polarizing — most obviously because everyone reading this probably either loved it or hated it. Among those who hated it, the criticisms are generally focused on the script. Character motivations were unclear or nonexistent. People reached out to lovingly pet blatantly malicious monsters. DAVID, the most interesting character by far (largely due to Michael Fassbender’s amazing performance) is never explained, even though he incites the core conflict of the film. So naturally those who hated it (like me) are pretty upset with Damon Lindelof (Lost) for messing up what could easily have been a really great movie. Because as much as Prometheus sucked (for some people), it’s also pretty clear that the ghost of greatness is lingering just beneath the surface. So when we learned that Lindelof had done major revisions to the original script written by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour, the unproduced Passengers), many assumed that the original script had been brilliant before Lindelof came along and Lost’d it all up. Because that’s a far more palatable reality. Turns out, we were right. The original script for Prometheus (then called Alien: Engineers) has been leaked, and it solves virtually all the problems with the original. Is it perfect? By no means — but at least it achieves a lot that the finished version doesn’t. Here are 8 terrible examples:

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Prometheus Spaceship

Astronomical expectations for Prometheus were inevitable. Because, come on, not only did the film mark Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien franchise after thirty-three years, but he was specifically returning to make a movie set chronologically before Alien. Scott could hem and haw all he wanted about Prometheus not being a prequel, to varying degrees we all had expectations for what potential answers we’d be given to explain the xenomorphs, the Space Jockey, and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. While struggling – like many of us – with the taste of disappointment the movie left behind, an idea struck me: Prometheus, as it turns out, knows exactly what it’s dealing with. It’s no accident that the film’s narrative revolves around its central characters seeking answers to questions of origins. Peel away at its corners and it reveals itself to be an inversion of the traditional fan/movie relationship: Prometheus is all about its answer-expecting audience and what it wants and expects from them.

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Why Watch? In partnership with the Venice Film Festival, YouTube’s Your Film Festival sought to find the best storytellers in the world and give them a platform on the video-sharing site. Yesterday, after thousands of entries and a Ridley Scott-narrowed group of 50 semi-finalists, a winner was announced. David Victori will win $500,000 to go toward crafting original online content with Scott and Michael Fassbender. His short, The Guilt (La Culpa), is an ice-blooded revenge film with absolutely arresting camerawork. It uses tricky visuals to deliver a psychologically consumed protagonist and a purgatorial subtext that’s never too heavy-handed. In short, he’s one to watch, and he has the last name to prove it. What will it cost you? Only 12 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
C

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