20th Century Fox
Rated R for violence, profanity, sexuality, nudity and bloody images
Ridley Scott Delivers A Worthy Addition To The Sci-Fi Horror Franchise
Alien: Covenant is the ninth episode in the enduring, sci-fi franchise launched back in 1979, provided you count the trio of Alien vs. Predator spinoffs. This installment is a sequel to Prometheus (2012) which devoted fans know was a prequel to the original. Covenant was directed by the legendary Ridley Scott who also made the first and the previous picture in the series.
As the futuristic tale unfolds, we find the spaceship Covenant hurtling through the ether on a mission to colonize a distant star with its cargo of 2,000 cryogenic humans and 1,140 frozen embryos. The crew, under the command of Captain Jacob Branson (James Franco), is composed of seven couples plus a state-of-the-art android named Walter (Michael Fassbender).
Before they reach their destination, the vessel is damaged by a “shock wave generated by a neutrino burst from a solar flare,” whatever that pretentious, scientific jargon means. The upshot is that the accident conveniently dovetails with the arrival of mysterious radio signals that appear to be human in nature.
Curiosity gets the better of them, and they divert the crippled craft to the source of the transmissions, an uncharted planet nearby. Against their better judgment, they dispatch an expedition team to the surface to determine whether the place is habitable and might thus serve as a substitute settlement spot for their hibernating pod people.
Unfortunately, the intrepid explorers are blissfully unaware that they’re being contaminated by a monstrous, microscopic virus that can enter a body through any open orifice. After a brief gestation period, the opportunistic infection drains the hosts of their vitality while simultaneously morphing into the drooling, gelatinous, man-eating creatures long associated with the Alien adventures.
This doesn’t bode well for the Covenant, and what ensues is a high burn-rate affair in which crew members are gradually picked off one-by-one, with each succumbing to a demise a little more grisly than the last. To paraphrase, the franchise’s immortal, inaugural tagline: In space, no one can still hear you scream, or save you from a body-snatching chestburster either.
A blood-curdling sequel and worthy addition to the series certain to scare the living daylights out of you!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 122 minutes
Warner Brothers Pictures
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief sensuality
Prince Charming Courts Sickly Next Door Neighbor In Bittersweet Coming-Of-Age Tale
It’s Maddy Whittier’s (Amandla Stenburg) 18th birthday, but she won’t be celebrating the occasion at a party or restaurant. In fact, she won’t be leaving the house or even having friends over anytime soon.
That’s because she has SCID, a rare genetic disorder that basically makes her allergic to everything. Consequently, she’s been stuck inside a hermetically-sealed house since being diagnosed with the disease at the age of three, shortly after her father and brother’s untimely deaths in a terrible car crash.
Lucky for Maddy, her mom, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), is a physician who could afford to raise her in a luxurious, if sterile, environment free of the germs that could compromise her immune system in an instant. Although Maddy grew up curious about the outside world, she’s gotten used to exploring it over the internet with the help of online courses and a support group for kids with her sickness.
Then, Maddy receives the best birthday gift she could ever imagine when new neighbors move in right next-door. For, one member of the family, Olly (Nick Robinson), is a boy about her own age. And all it takes is a glance through the glass window for the handsome hunk to fall head-over-heels in love with her.
The ardent admirer uses sign language to ask Maddy for her phone number, before typing “U R beautiful” in his very first text. Olly’s zeal only increases upon learning about her crippling affliction, and he asks if there’s any way he could be decontaminated to come over for a visit.
But that’s against doctor’s orders, especially mom’s, which forces the lovebirds to admire each other from afar. Hormones raging, Maddy is suddenly discontent with her sheltered existence in an antiseptic gilded cage.
Will she recklessly abandon the protective bubble to rush into the arms of a perfect Prince Charming she barely knows? That is the burning question at the heart of Everything, Everything, a bittersweet, bildungsroman based on the young adult novel by Nicola Yoon. The picture was directed by Stella Meghie who successfully adapted the book into a syrupy soap opera certain to satisfy fans of the source material.
A tender enough tearjerker to dehydrate even this crabby curmudgeon!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 96 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening May 26, 2017
Baywatch (R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and pervasive profanity) Screen adaptation of the long-running TV series (1989-2001) as an unlikely-buddies action comedy about a veteran lifeguard (Dwayne Johnson) and a rebellious recruit (Zac Efron) forced to put aside their differences to take on a drug ring ruining the area. With Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach, and featuring cameos by original cast members David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (PG-13 for violence and suggestive content) Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow for a swashbuckling adventure which finds the Black Pearl pursued by a ghost ship with a zombie crew under the command of an old nemesis (Javier Bardem). With Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and Kaya Scodelario.
96 Souls (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller about a research scientist who, after a lab accident, discovers he’s able to read people’s minds. With Sid Veda, Paul Statman and Toyin Moses.
Black Butterfly (R for profanity) Suspense thriller revolving around a reclusive writer (Antonio Banderas) who, against his better judgment, invites a shady drifter (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to crash in his cabin during a serial killer’s reign of terror around the mountainous region. Supporting cast includes Piper Perabo, Abel Ferrara and Nicholas Aaron.
Buena Vista Social Club: Adios (PG for mature themes, brief suggestive material and pervasive smoking) Concert documentary and sequel to the 2000 Oscar nominee follows the final tour of the five surviving members of the band as they reflect on their careers and their contributions to Cuba’s musical culture. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
Cruel and Unusual (Unrated) Miscarriage of justice documentary chronicling the 42 years straight spent in solitary confinement by Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Black Panthers targeted and convicted of murder without a shred of evidence besides the testimony of bribed and blind witnesses.
Drone (Unrated) Revenge thriller about an American drone pilot (Sean Bean) conducting covert bombing missions from the comfort of his hometown who suddenly finds himself accused of killing the innocent family of a grieving Pakistani businessman. (Patrick Sabongui). With Mary McCormack, Joel David Moore and Sharon Taylor.
Long Strange Trip (R for profanity, graphic nudity and pervasive drug use) Warts-and-all rockumentary affording a revealing look at the life and times of the Grateful Dead. Featuring never before seen video footage of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Robert Hunter, Bill Kreutzmann and Pigpen.
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (Unrated) Prestige profile following the prima ballerina as she prepares to perform a modern dance piece while contemplating the end of her three-decade career with the New York City Ballet.
The Women’s Balcony (Unrated) Tale of female empowerment, set in Jerusalem, revolving around the women members of an Orthodox congregation’s attempt to derail their new rabbi’s (Avraham Aviv Alush) plan to implement traditional gender roles at the synagogue. With Oma Banai, Yafit Asulin and Sharon Elimelech. (In Hebrew with subtitles)