Ridley Scott

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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Simply put, Prometheus is the most divisive film of the summer. The Internet’s anticipation had been at an all-time high for years leading up to its release, so when the film didn’t end up being “the greatest thing ever!” more than a few people came away disappointed. From a wonky third act to a few head-scratching character decisions, much of the film’s problems were laid upon co-writer Damon Lindelof‘s Twitter feed. In terms of what didn’t work, many labeled the movie “Lostian.” Now, Lindelof is discussing those issues and critics, with the exception of the ones that actually matter. There’s been some legitimate criticisms made over Ridley Scott‘s return to science fiction, but Lindelof doesn’t appear to be all that interested in discussing them…or perhaps no one has simply asked him about them yet. In an interview with the SpeakEasy blog at the Wall Street Journal, Lindelof (kind of) talked about the reception of Prometheus. Unfortunately, he never went beyond declaring the divisiveness a case of “I love ambiguity and you guys just, I dunno, don’t!” Even as a big fan of Prometheus who has no problems with the film’s ambiguity, Lindelof’s stance comes off mildly dismissive of the film’s biggest critics.

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One of the biggest complaints people had coming out of Ridley Scott’s epic in scope sci-fi spectacle Prometheus was that it raised more questions than it answered. Well, today brings good news for those of you looking for closure. It turns out Scott knew what he was doing all along: he raised a bunch of questions about the origins of humanity, got us on the hook for wanting answers, and now he’s going to sell us all tickets to a sequel. Pretty clever, movie industry. Confirmation of a Prometheus 2 comes from THR, who have published a comprehensive look at which of the big movies from this summer are likely to spawn sequels. In addition to the Prometheus confirmation, they reveal that movies like Ted, Magic Mike, American Reunion, and Snow White and the Huntsman are all likely to be given follow-ups as well.

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London Traffic Jam

While Danny Boyle is busy celebrating the history of Great Britain with giant inflatable arm-flailing Voldemorts, Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian are preparing to explore what might happen if the worst case travel scenario crippled the country’s infrastructure. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project was born from a 2003 dramatized documentary called The Day Britain Stopped which aired on the BBC. The villain of the feature is us – the hordes of commuting individuals that make up the mass clogging overtaxed transportation routes. There’s a worker strike, a train accident and the country’s roads are transformed into a parking lot during one of the busiest and coldest times of year. Scott and Zaillian will be using the film as inspiration for their take, which is set up at Fox. The last time these two got together it was for American Gangster, but it’s still unclear whether Denzel Washington will play the A3212 into London. However, it’s still a fascinating twist on the disaster genre that could use a bit more exploration. At the very least, it’s something we can all relate to.

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Drinking Games

This coming weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Ridley Scott’s visionary science fiction film Blade Runner. We are only seven short years from the predicted dystopia of 2019, and while we don’t have cool flying cars or synthetic snakes yet (let alone replicant love slaves), we can still hope for the future. Whether you prefer the studio’s “Director’s Cut,” the Ridley Scott-approved “Final Cut,” or the less adored theatrical cut from the summer of 1982, you can enjoy it fresh with this drinking game. Buffer your stomach with some noodles from an Asian street vendor or drink the liquor straight from the bottle as Rick Decker does (though you probably won’t last through 20 minutes of the film if you choose to do it that way). Also, gird your loins for the rumored Blade Runner sequel in the future because you’ll need some strength and copious amounts of alcohol to deal with the aftermath of that film.

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Game of Thrones

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that brings together the best entertainment-related stories, Monday through Friday. It spends the weekends thinking about you, awaiting the moment when you’ll be reunited on Monday night. That moment is right now… We begin tonight with a shot from Game of Thrones. Why? Because Game of Thrones is awesome. The other reason would be that Pajiba’s Brian Byrd has taken to analyzing the process that HBO will have to go through in Ending Game of Thrones. It’s a spoiler-free essay that talks about the logistical issues of bringing George R.R. Martin’s massive book series to the small screen. In a perfect world, the series would go on for about 10 seasons and span all of the books not yet written. As characters learn each week on GoT, intentions mean shit in the real world.

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Alien and Prometheus Movie Books

Tired of hearing about Prometheus? If your answer is yes, consider moving on. If you’re still coming to grips with the film or if you’re a huge fan of the Alien universe, then read on, because we get our dirty little mitts on three books that will take you deeper into the movies than ever before. From Titan Books, Ridley Scott’s newest, Prometheus, gets a wonderful hardcover “The Art of the Film” treatment from author Mark Salisbury, while the original film is highlighted in the recently re-published The Book of Alien. Space Marines, form up, as the stars of James Cameron’s installment are highlighted in the re-published Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual.

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While the rest of the movie-going universe debates the merits of Prometheus, Ridley Scott is busy putting the final touches on the Cormac McCarthy-scribed thriller The Counselor. The film stars Brad Pitt as a lawyer who gets involved with drug trafficking, and already sported the promising supporting cast of Michael the-best-thing-about-Prometheus Fassbender and McCarthy veteran Javier Bardem. According to Deadline Bloomington, another McCarthy veteran (remember All the Pretty Horses?), Penélope Cruz, has officially been added to the cast after being rumored for a role for some time. No word on what character she’ll play, but despite any reservations audiences have had about Scott’s latest star-studded genre outing, this cast in the first script penned by really-freaking-good novelist Cormac McCarthy seems promising. Deadline notes that the film has been described as [sigh...] “No Country For Old Men on steroids,” which promises exactly the opposite of everything that made that Best Picture winner interesting. Principal photography for The Counselor begins this summer.

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Culture Warrior

For filmgoers frustrated with a visionary filmmaker whose films’ quality provided diminishing returns as he became ever more prolific, Prometheus was anticipated as a welcome return to form. For those hungry for R-rated, thinking person’s science fiction, Prometheus provided a welcome respite from a summer promising mostly routine franchise continuations. For those who see the 1970s and 1980s as the height of modern Hollywood filmmaking, Prometheus promised a homecoming for a type of blockbuster that was long thought to be dead. Prometheus even beat out The Dark Knight Rises as the most anticipated summer film of 2012 on this very site. But then the reviews came in. And thus began the qualifying, criticizing, parsing out, hyperbolizing, dissecting, backlashing, and disappointed exhaling. There were many responses to Prometheus, but very few of them were the songs of praise that a film this hotly anticipated – and highly desired – by all means should have satisfyingly warranted.

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Even though the release of Prometheus has been a polarizing one for movie fans, the overall consensus is that it is a brilliantly made movie from a technical perspective. Even the haters and mediocre reviews point out the striking visuals and classy use of 3D. What often gets lost in this discussion is the sound design and mix, which is as important to making a film as any visual elements. The good folks at Soundworks Collection have released a brief-yet-detailed look into the sound of Prometheus, presented by Dolby. Included in the video are Supervising Sound Editors Mark Stoeckinger and Victor Ennis, Sound Re-recording Mixers Ron Bartlett and Doug Hemphill, Sound Designers Ann Scibelli and Alan Rankin, and Sound Effects Researcher Charlie Campagna. Fans of sound design will enjoy hearing about the creative and often low-tech elements that inspired the high-tech sound mix. The sound team talks about how they preserved the sound from Ridley Scott‘s original Alien and found inspiration in everyday items like soda, pop rocks, and a blue-fronted Amazon parrot to create the sound landscape heard in the film. Check out the video after the break.

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Prometheus

It was perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year after The Dark Knight Rises, but Ridley Scott‘s return to the Alien world in Prometheus has been anything but universally embraced. While many enjoyed the film, an equal (at least) amount disliked it. Regardless of what camp you fall into, I think we can all agree that the crew of Prometheus the ship and Prometheus the movie were pretty stupid, for being future geniuses and all. Here, we count down the ten stupidest decisions and actions made by the crew in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Of course, there are tons of spoilers inside.

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Boiling Point

Editor’s Note: The following article contains discussion of events from the third act of Prometheus. You’ve been warned.  Prometheus just can’t get a break. From poor reviews to my upcoming list of the 10 Dumbest Crew Member Mistakes, you’d think we’d have picked on Ridley Scott’s revisit enough. But we haven’t! This just isn’t about Prometheus though. Hollywood has a long history of illustrating stupid people doing stupid things. One that has always bothered me is when people are fleeing gigantic objects. Whether it’s a falling spaceship, a collapsing building, or a gigantic beast, there’s one tried and true method of escaping – and it ain’t running in a straight line.

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Scenes We Love: Alien

If you haven’t guessed it by know, this weekend is all about the release of Prometheus. With Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to the genre where he got his beautifully executed start, the Alien franchise has been reborn with a prequel/side-story that is a clear beneficiary of modern visual technology. In short, Prometheus is a gorgeous film filled with all kinds of sci-fi visual pornography. It even looks great in 3D. But to truly enjoy what has come to pass this weekend as 20th Century Fox rakes in the cash from Scott’s return to Alien, it’s important that we look back to where it all began — to a sci-fi/horror franchise so iconic that mere mention of its name drives nerds into fits of heated discussion. What were the greatest moments in the films by Scott, Cameron, Fincher and Jeunet? What are the great scenes from each of the Alien films? We sat our resident experts, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter, down in a room and refused them food and water until they emerged with the answer. In legit geek fashion, they emerged five minutes later. Because even with so many great moments in this franchise, the answers all seemed quite clear… Obligatory Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen the entire Alien franchise and would rather not have these decades old films spoiled for you, do not read any further. Many of our favorite scenes are the likes that you should see within the context of the film the first time.

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“Who doesn’t love an orgy, Jack?,” Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindelof asked me, possibly being the first person to ask me such a thing. But, really, who could disagree with Mr. Lindelof? Ridley Scott‘s sci-fi opus is filled with all kinds of beings, making for the vicious and high-minded brand of orgy. What does the film have to say about if we, our creators, and our creations all got together and “partied” for a few days? In short: we’d eat each other. Prometheus is a story of characters making mostly questionable decisions, leading to horrific events. Even at the end when a character acknowledges humanity’s greatest flaw, that said character continues to do what they all get wrong in the first place, which is: asking too many questions. The film is about the dangers of searching for answers, a hurdle Lindelof, as a writer, has famously faced before. Here’s what the screenwriter had to say about the dark and hopeful side of Prometheus, the egoism of David, and the Mad Libs-esque storytelling he’s drawn to in our spoiler-heavy discussion:

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Ridley Scott Alien DVD Commentary

Prometheus is Ridley Scott‘s latest magnum opus, a groundbreaking cinematic achievement beyond our wildest imaginations. At least that’s what we’re all hoping for with the film. At the very least we’ll take a return to the sci-fi terror Scott unleashed on audiences earlier in his career, but Prometheus is a film moviegoers all over will be talking about. We’d love to hear Scott talk about it, probably along with screenwriter Damen Lindelof. We’ll take Jon Spaihts just because he comes with the package deal, but it’ll be a commentary that delves into the depths each man had to go to craft yet another legendary, sci-fi tale. That will be amazing. Anyway, here’s the commentary for Alien. Seriously, though. How can you introduce Alien?

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