Kevin: This year’s Best Supporting Actor/Actress Oscar categories contain a number of worthy performers, including Allison Janney, Willem Dafoe, Laurie Metcalf, and Christopher Plummer, whose long and distinguished history of keeping his hands off Anthony Rapp allowed him to take over the role originally played by Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.” However, while Plummer should be commended for giving an Oscar-worthy performance in a movie he wasn’t even in a month before its release, an even bigger challenge was presented to the thespians in another Scott film from earlier this year: trying to pass off James Franco as someone you would trust with thousands of people’s lives, in “Alien: Covenant”:
Now Tough Guy Digest had a lot of problems with “Alien: Covenant,” so much so that we had to go back and do a second post of all the things that annoyed us that we didn’t have space to get into the first time around. Some of our pet peeves included the fact that the crew of the Covenant is the blandest and least memorable in “Alien” franchise history, that it continues the “Prometheus” tradition of bringing up questions that it has no intention of paying off, and that Danny McBride should never be tasked with playing anything other than his usual redneck asshole persona.
On that note, perhaps the film’s greatest misstep though was the casting of McBride’s “Pineapple Express/This is the End” costar James Franco as the legendary captain of the Covenant, who dies at the beginning of the film due to a fire in his pod before he even has a line. Now Franco’s role in the film was shrouded in mystery, and his participation in the film wasn’t even revealed until a couple of months from release. All we knew was that he was playing a captain, and all the publicity photos showed him scruffy, wrapped in a blanket, and looking hungover, which is how I think we assume Franco starts every day:
However, a “prologue” released after the movie came out gives Franco his only dialogue in the film outside of a brief clip of his character mountain climbing, and while he admits to feeling queasy, he blames it on a fever rather than too much day drinking in space. Although I’m not sure what was the point of teasing this whole sickness angle anyway, since it has nothing to do with how he dies in “Alien: Covenant”:
You also don’t get any sense of the quality of his captaining from that clip, but holy shit, according to every other character in the film, James Franco was not only the greatest captain in history, he was possibly the greatest human being of all time. Just picture the reverence and awe that the characters in “Master and Commander” spoke of the legendary Lord Nelson, and multiply that by a thousand for James Franco here. While the audience is still trying to figure out why the hell he was even in this movie, everyone in “Alien: Covenant” is acting like there is no way they can finish their mission without the brilliant mind and solid leadership of JAMES FRANCO to guide them! Thank about that for a second.
In fact, the biggest crisis his second-in-command Billy Crudup faces is whether he will be able to match the standard set by his superior, and if James Franco is the yardstick you use to measure yourself with, you should really reassess a lot of things about your life. At one point Crudup eulogizes Captain Franco by saying something along the lines of “he was the best of all of us,” which sounds great until we remember that we’re talking about this guy here:
Although who knows, the fact that the crew of the Covenant immediately start getting killed off through sheer stupidity and incompetence may be proof that they really did need Franco’s steady hand to guide them (although it’s more likely he was too stoned to train them how to do their jobs). Either way, by managing to keep a straight face while talking about James Franco as if he was the greatest leader since Alexander, Napoleon, and Oprah combined, the actors in “Alien: Covenant” deserve a special award for participating in the biggest piece of science fiction in the entire franchise.