"I'm just burning up."
For those of you that went to go see Alien: Covenant this weekend and had avoided watching (or weren't aware of) "The Last Supper" prologue video that 20th Century Fox released online several months ago, you probably had no idea that James Franco was in the film -- as he was also left out of much of the film's marketing material. And while that surprise was still washing over many moviegoers, they had to be equally surprised when he was killed off as quickly as he appeared.
Franco plays Branson, the captain of the Covenant and the husband of Daniels (Katherine Waterston). He is leading a large-scale colonization mission to Origae-6, a remote planet. The crew is made up entirely of couples, and the ship is carrying two thousand colonists and a thousand embryos.
The journey will be long, so the crew enter cryosleep and have Walter (Michael Fassbender) the android monitor the ship. While they sleep, the ship is hit by a destructive neutrino burst. Walter wakes the crew, but Branson's cryo-pod catches on fire, burning him alive. And poof—he's gone.
Billy Crudup's devout Oram, who is second in command, becomes the acting captain. By killing off Branson and replacing him with an inferior leader, the film is provided with a plausible reason for the questionable decisions that will be made right after they receive a transmission from a nearby planet.
In a recent interview, screenwriter Dante Harper revealed that Franco was supposed to have a meatier role. "Originally, the James Franco character was part of what was a larger storyline, involving learning a little more about his background and actually getting to see some of his dreams that he'd had while he was asleep," "It had to do with the backstory of both Daniels [Katherine Waterson] as well as Billy Crudup's character, Oram. Part of Ridley's idea was that this was a ship that not only had this external problem, but it also had this problem that there was this captain who was not the original captain who is now going to lead the mission and maybe make some terrible mistakes. The James Franco character is in that teaser a good bit more and I think in different versions of the screenplay as it went along, he had a larger role, but his role was always to be an absent captain."
Director Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the "synthetic" David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.
The cast features Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, and Benjamin Rigby.
Alien: Covenant opens in theaters on May 19, 2017.
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