This Week's Review: Alien:Covenant and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

On the weekend of May 20, I managed to sit through two films; one was fun and the other was a painful ordeal.

The film I enjoyed was Ridley Scott’s latest installment in the Alien franchise; Alien: Covenant is the second prequel to the original film, which is nearing its fortieth anniversary. The first prequel was Prometheus; it left several unresolved plot threats which this film tries to cover, but there is still room for a third prequel.

I enjoyed this film immensely; the opening sequences are an almost hypnotic paean to space technology; they remind me very much of the scenes in 2001: a Space Odyssey in which various spaceships move to the strains of “The Blue Danube.” The cast is good, but many of them “disappear” very quickly as the aliens take over; Michael Fassbender is excellent as he portrays two androids from different eras. (Of course, the track record of androids in the previous films is more than a bit unsettling.)

We learn that there are more ways than one to be contaminated with alien embryos, but the end result is just as messy and revolting as it was in the first film. The final scene has a very, very nasty twist.

After all that fun, the second film was a disaster. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is one of the worst films I have ever endured. It is supposed to be the first of six films, but this franchise should be allowed to die and die quickly. The only good thing is Jude Law’s performance as Vortigern, but even that wears thin very quickly. The film has no more to do with the Arthurian mythos than Gone with the Wind has to do with the realities of slavery. Guy Richie should be ashamed of himself for unleashing this stinker on an unsuspecting audience.

The film is often incoherent; some battle scenes have no explanation or visible outcome. I will concede that there are some spectacular moments, but they do not justify suffering through the rest of the film. The most telling commentary was the number of people who left the theater throughout the performance. By the time the ordeal ended, there were only three other people in the audience.

If you are in the mood for a King Arthur film; I would recommend either or both John Boorman’s Excalibur and the director’s cut of Clive Owen’s King Arthur.