KAM’S KAPSULES

‘Alien: Covenant’ rekindles chest-bursting fun and horrors of 1979 original.

Kam Williams, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 5/19/2017, 6 a.m.
‘Alien: Covenant’ rekindles chest-bursting fun and horrors of 1979 original.
Among the potential victims for the “protomorph” in Alien Covenant are Karine (Carmen Ejogo, Left) and Upworth and Ricks (Callie Hernandez and Jussie Smollett, right).

“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!

Also in theatres this week:

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (PG for rude humor) Fourth installment in the franchise inspired by Jeff Kinney’s children’s book series features a new cast and finds the Heffley family embarking on a very eventful road trip to visit grandma on her 90th birthday. Co-starring Jason Drucker, Charlie Wright, Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott.

Everything, Everything (PG-13 for mature themes and brief sensuality) An enchanting, if bittersweet, bildungsroman about the love which blossoms between a sickly girl (Amandla Stenburg) growing up in an antiseptic bubble and the chivalrous Prince Charming (Nick Robinson) who moves in next-door. With Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera and Taylor Hickson.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Unrated) Justice system expose chronicling the five-year legal battle waged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. against Abacus Federal Savings, the Asian-American community bank which was the only financial institution to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.