Box office opposites: ‘Alien: Covenant’ and ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’

By on May 24, 2017

I was hooked on the Alien when I first came across her in the early ‘80s. (I was six when the first movie hit the big screens, so I caught the movie after it was released on Prism. Anyone remember Prism?) Little did I know then this otherworldly beast would follow me throughout the decades.

The latest installment of the sci-fi franchise is “Alien: Covenant,” the sequel to 2012’s “Prometheus,” which may have slipped under the radar of those not intently following along. “Prometheus” is the inception story and a prequel to the Sigourney Weaver-starred stories.

In “Alien: Covenant” we find a crew of space settlers hurtling toward a sustainable planet when they are knocked into early action by an unexplainable space anomaly. Enter the sounds of John Denver, which lure the flight team off course like a country road siren.

Our heroine here is Daniels (Katherine Waterston, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), who becomes the reluctant leader after all hell breaks loose. “Alien: Covenant” stars Michael Fassbender (the young Magneto in the current X-Men timeline) as the synthetic life form turned bad, and Danny McBride (“Pineapple Express”) as the downhome, country pilot in space. SPOILER: Everyone else dies… except the hundreds of sleeping colonists who will later meet their fate.

Essentially, this movie is for Alien fans. I don’t think many moviegoers going in without prior knowledge of the timeline could care about this flick. So, if it’s your cup of tea go check it out.

Charlie Hunnam portrays Arthur in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” While set up to become a franchise, reviewer Michael
Upton says he can’t see that happening, based on the initial film’s poor showing at the box office.

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’

Despite being trashed by critics and its lackluster performance at the box office (slipping to sixth place after only two weeks and barely making a dent against its $175 million budget) I decided to go see “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” to find out what the negative vibe is all about.

Introducing Arthur (Charlie Hunnam, “Pacific Rim”), a castaway of royalty who is destined to take the throne of Camelot. On his way to the throne Arthur teams up with The Mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and a band of merry men to defeat Vortigern (Jude Law). That’s the entire story. It’s just how we get there that is the ride in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

When it comes down to it, I don’t think the audience for chivalrous movies is ready for director/writer Guy Ritchie. This is the guy who also brought us “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch,” and “Sherlock Holmes.”

Ritchie is not afraid to wield any kind of cinematic device to drive his stories — from slow motion action to jumping story narratives. Maybe some viewers got lost. Maybe others just got tired of following a simple story overtold. Whatever the reason for the poor reception does not matter to me; I liked the fresh take on the old tale.

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is set up to be a franchise, but I don’t know if number two will ever see the light of the projector. This effort to reintroduce a popular legend will never take the same circuitous vein to film immortality as the Alien story line.

And while were comparing film versus film for prosperity, stay tuned this weekend as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tries to unseat the almighty Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with a retooling of “Baywatch.” Don’t laugh …it could happen. We’ve seen “stranger tides.” [I’m doubling down on my references here as Bergès-Frisbey played Syrena in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”]

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