Movie Review – “Species”

Species 3 makes its debut on Sci-Fi this
Saturday, so we’ll review the first two films in the
series in the next two days.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Natasha Henstridge as Sil

Ben Kinglsey as Finch

Michael Madsen as Press

Marg Helgenberger as Laura

Alfred Molina as Stephen

Forest Whitaker as Dan

Written by Dennis Feldman

Directed by Roger Donaldson

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Buy the Special Edition (with commentaries and a
Species 3 preview) from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

An alien intelligence sends mankind a genetic
sequence that can be
combined with our own to create something else.

I suspect that the studio heads who decided to make
it were thinking
more along the lines of “sex and violence sell. Is
there an
acceptable way to put them together?”

High Point

The best made portion of the movie is the opening
sequence. If you
don’t know what’s going on, you’ll see an innocent
little girl who
doesn’t understand her circumstances going through a
traumatic
experience. Then you find out she’s not so innocent,
and soon enough,
she’s not so little.

Low Point

What was that final shot supposed to do? If it’s
meant to be scary,
it fails. If it’s meant to leave us with something
amusing, they
should have written humorous lines for the main
characters instead.

The Scores

This isn’t very original. Two staples of
horror (nudity and
gore) are jammed together in an admittedly workable
way. It’s
essentially a Frankenstein story in which
the monster isn’t
ugly; mankind plays with science it doesn’t
understand, and creates
something it’s not ready to deal with. Upon that
updated structure
were character archetypes that we’ve seen time and
time again. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The effects were not bad, actually. Some of
them (like
the tongue in the bedroom, or the face ridges in the
pool attack) were
quite well done. Others (like the CGI tentacles)
were obviously CGI.
I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is a sometimes awkward merger of
sex and violence.
TV is also not that educational; I still can’t
believe the number of
movies that have characters learn enough to function
in society from a
few hours in front of the TV. I also have issues with
the inclusion of
an empath in a manhunt story. This seems like a
cheap way out of
writing an actual manhunt with deductive reasoning,
instead allowing
Forest Whitaker to look around wistfully and spout a
lead any time the
trail got cold. This isn’t all the screenwriter’s
fault, either. I read the
novelization of the original script way back when
this first came out.
(I was a projectionist who read a lot. I read a lot
of novelizations
because customers at the theater kept asking
questions about upcoming
films I couldn’t otherwise answer until I’d seen it.)
That script had
actually fixed a few problems that this movie had.
Note that we’ll
get into spoiler territory here, so I’ll give the
score, and then
those who want to remain unspoiled should skip to the
next paragraph.
I give it 3 out of 6. In the original script, the
research team had
already tried growing it on its own, but found it
wasn’t viable
without another genetic sequence to attach it to.
The solution the
hunting team found was to grow it in combination with
bat DNA, and
look for differences there. In this way, they (all
to rapidly)
realized that the alien DNA was just a means to
increase instinct
and/or decrease consious decision making, while
allowing the animal to
activate and implement dormant genes. (All of Sil’s
transformations
were supposed to be things that our ancestors could
do.) There’s
another scene that was completely omitted from the
movie which hits a
pet peeve of mine. There are a lot of movies that
show a map of the
United States during some sort of plague or epidemic.
The map will be
covered with little red dots to show the spread of
infection, and
those dots will fill the USA and then magically stop
and the US borders. Either the threat specifically
targets people in a
very particular geometry, or the characters and/or
effects crew don’t
care about non-US citizens. (Or, I suppose, the
filmmakers don’t
think the audience cares about anything outside the
USA.) As a
Canadian, this irks me somewhat. The original script
to this movie
used a map of the entire world, which showed some
local spreading of
infection before suddenly jumping to large population
centres
worldwide. (Why the jump? “Major airports” is the
logical answer given.)
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there
was a more
intelligent movie available, but it was stripped down
to leave more
screen time for the nudity. (No nudity was added to
the script, and
one nude scene was cut to get the rating from NC-17
to R due to its
explicit content, but the nudity is now a greater
proportion of the
movie.)

The acting was passable. Nobody had more
than one or two
facial expressions, but the script never called for
them. I’ve seen
enough of this cast elsewhere to know that they are
capable of more
than this. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is a bit weak. Let’s
face it, the
organs this was meant to illicit a response from are
not known for
being overly emotional. There’s no sense of suspence
generated,
because everything is going according to formula.
You know which two
hunters are going to live for sure very quickly, and
which one won’t
survive. Of the last two, both are the sympathetic
losers, only one
of which will make it through the movie alive, and we
know which that
will be just by the nature of their introductions. I
give it 3 out of
6.

The production is as mediocre as the rest.
The editing and
framing is actually pretty good, with some high
contrast lighting in
key sequences to ramp up the intesity, but then they
go and ruin it
all by showing lens flares every few minutes, which
serves only to
remind the viewer that he (or, I suppose, she) is
watching a movie.
Breaking the illusion is not good strategy. I give
it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a mediocre little movie that
made its money
because of the look of the woman who was cast in the
lead. It made
enough money that the first sequel was guaranteed.
Watch the Bureau tomorrow
for a forthcoming review of that little piece of
work. I give this
one 4 out of 6.

In total, Species receives 25 out of 42.

9 replies on “Movie Review – “Species””

  1. BuellBoy says:

    Yeah but…
    Natasha Henstridge looks just AWESOME naked, doesn’t she??

    PS: FIRST POST!

    • Dr Caleb says:

      Re: Yeah but…

      Natasha Henstridge looks just AWESOME naked, doesn’t she??

      Too bad her personality doesn’t match. I went to high school with her.

      • babasyzygy says:

        Re: Yeah but…

        Natasha Henstridge looks just AWESOME naked, doesn’t she??

        Too bad her personality doesn’t match. I went to high school with her.

        Heh. Face it, nobody’s personality is stellar in high school.

      • fiziko says:

        Re: Yeah but…

        Too bad her personality doesn’t match. I went to high school with her.

        Jeez. How many Albertans do we have at the Bureau right now? (I’m in St. Albert.)

        • quantaman says:

          Re: Yeah but…

          Too bad her personality doesn’t match. I went to high school with her.

          Jeez. How many Albertans do we have at the Bureau right now? (I’m in St. Albert.)

          I’m in Toronto at the moment but am from Cold Lake originally, then Edmonton after that (going back to Edmonton after I’m done in Toronto).

        • Dr Caleb says:

          Re: Yeah but…

          (I’m in St. Albert.)

          Ditto. West side, by Big Lake.

          • y42 says:

            Re: Yeah but…

            (I’m in St. Albert.)

            Ditto. West side, by Big Lake.

            Anecdote: I’m in Montréal, I worked with a guy from Alberta once. BOY was he happy to be here in summer, apparently the hot chicks aren’t as plentifull where he came from (I thought he would sprain his neck from looking around so much… oftentimes at girls that weren’t, to my eyes, all that extraordinary).

            He had a hard time adjusting to our relaxed attitudes concerning jaywalking though…

      • BuellBoy says:

        Re: Yeah but…

        Natasha Henstridge looks just AWESOME naked, doesn’t she??

        Too bad her personality doesn’t match. I went to high school with her.

        Well doesn’t that make sense, then? What’s the first thing you tell someone when you set him up with a woman who ISN’T a knockout?

        “But she’s got a GREAT personality!”

  2. y42 says:

    Alien
    You know, as I was watching this movie, in between scenes of glorious nudity, I was thinking that this seems like a prequel to Alien without the franchise name.

    After all, the Aliens are hybrids, they assume the basic morphology of the host (Alien 3’s alien was smaller and walked on all fours, where the ones that were spawned from humans instead of a dog were bigger and liked to walk upright). And the transport in the first Alien had a “gun runner” feel to it, there’s dangerous cargo, all stacked neatly under a green laser thingy…

    So, maybe I was trying to watch a better movie during the “no boobies” moments, but I liked to imagine that the ETs who sent that transmission were the same ones who sent the ship that crashed and was discovered by Ripley’s crew, using humans as willing participating victims in their biological weapons production instead of using pysical means to get their bioweapons to us (especially if the pilot has a tendency to get killed on the way). I was even thinking “as a prequel, it would make sense that their weapons aren’t as advanced as in Alien, but that its look and reproduction method is similar”.

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