MovieBob - IntermissionWhat Happened to Ridley Scott?MovieBob - Intermission - RSS 2.0
Interestingly, the "slide" appears to roughly coincide with an increase in the frequency of work. Prior to Gladiator in 2000, Scott was averaging about one film every two years, occasionally with longer breaks in between. But ever since his Oscar-winning Roman actioner, he's released roughly one film a year. Is there something to be said for taking one's time? Possibly, though the films made in this period are largely pretty good up through Kingdom of Heaven in 2005.
It's easy to cite 2010's Robin Hood as the start of the slippage -- what started out as a radical revisionist take on the legend actually reverted back into a more conventional outing once Scott joined the project and opted to offer up a re-skin of Gladiator interspaced with handsome action beats. But if one is being honest things are rarely that abrupt. 2006's often-forgotten vineyard-melodrama A Good Year is a fairly lifeless if innocuous affair, and while 2007's American Gangster feels like a near-masterpiece for much of its runtime, I've encountered few people who didn't think its third act ran too long without much reason.
Prometheus, of course, is the point where mainstream audiences started to take notice of this -- Scott's return to the Alien franchise for a mythology-expanding prequel seemed like the surest thing in the history of sure things, after all. But the film is inert and silly, a showcase for FX and Scott's ever-consistent visual dynamism and not much else. And now we have Exodus, a train-wreck of (pardon the pun) Biblical proportions that's spent the entirety of its pre-release buildup getting hammered for whitewashing ancient Egyptian history and will likely spend its actual release getting similarly slapped around for being a bombastically bad movie that regards the story of Moses as a tale that needed a few more swordfights and whose main contribution to the popular culture will be adding a whole new set of bizarre affectations to the "Christian Bale overacting" routine of class clowns the world over.
How'd we get here?
...I hope you weren't looking to me for an answer, because I certainly don't know. Sometimes even the great ones run out of gas, simple as that. On the other hand, you never know exactly what's happening behind the scenes or in the personal lives of artists that might affect their work in this way or that (Ridley's brother and fellow director, Tony Scott, committed suicide in 2012.) My own hope, for whatever it's worth, would be that the shocking terribleness of Exodus will be a kind of leveling-off moment, and maybe there are a few good Ridley Scott films yet to come.
...or he could just go ahead with that sequel to Prometheus. That could also happen.