Species has already been written and imagined a million times. And I’m not referring to Lifeforce or Star Trek or Return of the Jedi with the gold bikini. I’m talking about in the mind of every teenage boy to have ever existed in every country on the planet. That daydream about space or aliens or random hot women who walk up to you with demands for constant sex, even before you really know what that means…
Species took that most base of thought processes, gave it a sci-fi justification to snub the nose at the mainstream prudes (“Don’t you understand that they have to mate to survive!”) and then found the jiggliest, bounciest most nubile young ‘actresses’ willing to disrobe at short notice and turned it into a franchise.
And to be frank the best of Species is pretty terrible, but I and those same millions of red blooded heterosexual males could care less, and now we have the excuse of “but it’s not soft core anything, it’s serious sci-fi!” to keep girlfriends and wives and our feelings of guilt at bay.
The biggest blunder that the original Species made was in the casting; Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley and Michael Madsen. Fine actors all. Top calibre, well respected and with a number of Oscars between them… OK not so much Michael Madsen.
None of them needed. Because once the media got hold of the ‘hot blonde with her kit off’ angle there was no chance that this wasn’t going to be a hit – at least on home video behind closed doors.
As scientist Xavier Fitch (Kingsley) helpfully summarises in about 90 seconds: three decades after Earth started transmitting signals into space inviting contact these messages were returned, with genetic codes that were immediately combined with human DNA and put to use.
The result was a cute as a button vulnerable looking young girl named Sil, who grew at an exponential rate when compared to humans and exhibited powers and strengths far beyond us too. Forecasting trouble at the lab doors once this adorable tyke hit her teens Fitch reluctantly agreed to shut down the project until they had more time to plan more effective risk manageme…
…Too late. In a whirlwind of neatly broken glass and one gymnastic tumble later Sil is out the door and on the run, leaving Fitch with all sorts of explaining to do.
Having ‘evolved’ from a 12 year old girl to a 20 year old Hooter’s waitress overnight, Sil (Natasha Henstridge) arrives in Los Angeles by train and although mentally still a newbie to the ways of Earth-kind, this nubile young alien learns on the fly and adapts unbelievably swiftly.
Meanwhile Fitch puts together a team of a biologist (Helgenberger), a behavioural scientist (Molina), a ‘finder and disposer of people’ Madsen and a man with psychic abilities named Dan (Whitaker). I probably got the roles of the above wrong but who cares? It is Dan that you should watch, the man with such breathtaking accuracy and acuity that says the bleeding obvious 99% of the time; “she’s scared” or “she didn’t like him” while standing over a pureed corpse.
Initially oblivious to her pursuers, adult Sil displays all the traits of a typical human woman. She’s jealous, aggressive, says nothing of value (kidding!) and is prone to sudden and dramatic fits of violence.
She also wants a baby, and seems to sift through many of Los Angeles wealthy young singles in her search with no luck, with her impromptu disrobing accompanying even the briefest of scenes over the course of the film. (Having mentioned that I can’t go further without pointing out the sheer number of times this occurs and the spectacular pair of justifications for the frequency, let’s just say that alien beings were the inspiration for more than a few ‘solo moments’ in the years after this film was released.)
As the hunting party nears Sil they realise she is becoming more desperate in her search for a mate – what with her turbo charged biological clock a ticking away at a mighty rate – and her desperation seems to result in more blue balled bodies. Failure also brings Sil’s more alienesque features to the fore, which is a lot less sexy but probably contractually required so that they could market it as a sci-fi flick and not the big blonde with her tits out flick that it really is.
With a finale that is equal parts formula and logic defying plot (Why would a big high voltage box be in the middle of nowhere if it wasn’t there to be exploded? There is really a massive cave system right below a swanky L.A. hotel?) Species might end all guns blazing, but the first film was just another movie, albeit a movie with a higher BPM ratio (breasts per minute) than any film since… well… anything short of porn really.
The SFX are fine for the most part once you remember that they are mid-90s vintage and while the HR Giger creature design adds creepiness and cred it makes Alien comparisons unavoidable, especially when the score is a blatant rip off and a couple of scenes steal liberally from that series.
Species is eye-fluff for horny, desperate, sleazy males. And while it is good at that it isn’t really much of a film.
That doesn’t mean I won’t watch it again though.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. The sci-fi element and cast made Species a film. The tits made it a franchise.
After Species was such an (expectedly) unexpected hit a sequel was always on the cards. The only question was whether they would strive for quality or take the easy way out and go cheap and shlocky…
The first clue is in the cast. Gone from the first film are the three guys that would be picked first in any 3 on 3 acting pick up game (Kingsley, Whitaker, Molina), leaving Madsen, Helgenberger and Henstridge’s chesticles as the trio to proudly carry this franchise forward. More accurately though the three that needed the money – cos this is hilariously bad.
Species 2 appears to take place in the year or so following the events of the first film, strange then that they didn’t mention the Mars landing until now. The two man, one woman crew (and some goo) arrive home to a hero’s welcome, and following a brief physical are allowed to return home with only one directive; ‘No sexual activity for 10 days’.
“But we’re so horny… and full of tentacles… for the ladies…!”
Apparently you can’t keep a good astronaut – or his little spaceman – down, and one threesome, 14 minutes and 2 exploded females later, and lead astronaut Patrick Ross is the father of two boys. But he can’t stop there, it’s like he has some crazy Angelina Jolie disease where he must collect more kids and hoard them in a barn…
But what of Henstridge? Well with Sil dead Dr Laura (Helgenberger) was asked to clone her, the result is Eve (Henstridge), an exact replica, though calmer, weaker and sheltered from males at all cost. (It must be mentioned that although Henstridge keeps the puppies under wraps for most of the film she nonetheless dresses as if every day is a slumber party in the research lab.)
Meanwhile the government finds the exploded women and with Chris Brown overseas on tour they can’t work out how this happened. They consult with Laura, agree it must be something similar to Sil and get Lennox (Madsen) in to kill it.
With the lead horny alien a guy this time around the search proves a little harder – I mean how many emotionless guys are cruising the streets for sex at any one moment? – though you wonder why the guy who just returned from Mars to universal acknowledgment and acclaim isn’t a tad more easy to track down as he trawls the hookers and sluts looking for his perfect mate.
“Part alien part human male seeks part alien part human female for procreation with an aim to take over the Earth.”
Seems a little specific.
They of course ask to use Eve to see if she might help, and there is a laughable sequence where they try the ‘she sees what he sees’ trick, which ends with the inevitable awareness of each other which can only culminate in some ET action.
Again the best parts of the movie are blatant rips from other films, though with less reliance on CG in favour of practical effects reminiscent of The Thing but more likely to elicit an incredulous laugh than a gasp.
Instead of the semi-psychic Dan this time around everyone gets the chance to state the bleeding obvious or ridiculous. Consider a moment where an unprompted Dr Laura matter of factly informs everyone of the ’10 day no sex quarantine for interplanetary missions’… Ummm, OK. First, how many interplanetary missions have we had? And second, how exactly is this public knowledge anyway?
With the star power gone everyone gets more chances to try their hand at this acting thing. Madsen proves that if he has more than a few lines his mind starts to wander, at least Helgenberger tries her hardest to look both sciency and interested, and Henstridge not only gets way more lines but has to try emotions and feelings and stuff, mostly while fully clothed – so guys will actually be listening!
The ending is most hilarious of all, when Dr Laura is terrified that she might lose Eve. I so wanted her to scream “But where will I find another clone just like her!?!… oh… right…”
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. It’s sillier. It’s shlockier. It’s slimier and slitherier. It’s way stupider. It’s actually worse in every way… yet I’d watch this again before I revisited the original. The first Species was merely ordinary, Species 2 is drinking game bad. And all the better for it.
Good news for the guys with their zipper already at half mast; Eve isn’t dead!
No. Wait. In the time it took me to type that sentence she got bumped – admittedly I’m not much of a typist but the point is don’t expect much Eve this time around.
But in her death throes she manages to bust out one last pink nugget… which is taken by a scarily intense ‘pro virus’ professor who somehow managed to infiltrate the army, find the location of Eve, get into an army vehicle, steal the baby, and get away unnoticed.
But thinking about that is just wasting time until the new baby grows up.
Thankfully seeing as how these aliens are alienesque – especially the alien ones – the new bub grows at an alarming rate. Look she’s all grown up!
Couch potatoes with low expectations for their films; meet Sara (Sunny Mabrey), who will be your alien/hottie combo for the next excruciating hour and a half (which I could save you from enduring by saying that her first nude scene is easily the best).
Sara is a ‘pure-breed’, apparently the last of her kind. Or is she? This is all the more important as the ‘half-breeds’ born of alien and horny (and often exploded) human are genetically flawed and dying. Badly.
Sara and a guy who looks like Dawson van Der Beek’s stunt double must get to the bottom of things, while pausing periodically for Sara to unleash her ‘alien chest bursters’.
Species 3 is quite horrendous and obviously relies on viewers having seen the first two films and filling in the blanks in their own brains. There is far less action in all respects, because less action means lower budget – and this is minimalist fare at best. There aren’t even any cops or army guys this time around despite the fact that the alien threat was sufficient to bring them all screaming in like angry bees in the first two films. I guess like this film the government simply ran out of money and/or stopped caring.
When the FX are unavoidable it is thankfully mostly of the practical, amateurish, variety with CGI used only sparingly.
This means a bunch of guys in rubber suits. It also means that there isn’t much time spent on other stuff like production, training actors, plot development… quality…
Aside from the opening scenes this is all one big charade, a zero budget stinker masquerading as something more but really just living off the limited success of the first two returns.
The law of diminishing returns suggests that another drop in quality is inevitable, this one is less a step down than a plummet into a canyon.
But wait – I hear you say – what you say may be true, but titties!
A fine argument indeed. But allow me to retort. Species and Species 2 both had ‘em by the D cup-load, and they were both better way films (even though they weren’t very good).
Final Rating – 4.5 / 10. No-one will confuse Species 3 with the original. Hell no-one will confuse this with Species 2.
With the execrable Species 3 effectively killing both the franchise and Sunny Mabrey’s burgeoning career, a different tack was required.
Ladies and gents we’re taking this sucker to Mexico!
Miranda is a tall leggy blonde college intellectual. A prodigy. A genius. You can just tell by the way she coolly informs her Uncle Tom that she is soon to head to England to study at ‘Ox-ferd’. Oh I just bet they are laying out the red carpet right now…
Uncle Tom seems quite protective of his little Miranda and tells her that if she is going he will pull up stumps and accompany her. Miranda is pleased, but it’s date night, celebrations will come later.
Unfortunately date night doesn’t go well. Miranda awakens in the early hours in a park, naked, dishevelled and as groggy as Mitt Romney after a chocolate milk binge. But as she and the hospital staff that inspects her realise, Miranda wasn’t the victim…
… actually we are. The victim of dodgy CGI – a 37 foot long spiked tongue anyone? – dodgy acting and a script that could fit on a Fantales’ wrapper.
Then from nowhere (actually their house which is probably nearby – but that doesn’t sound so dramatic) Uncle Tom appears and with no explanation whisks Miranda away to Mexico, where half naked slags roam the streets killing drifters and the dregs of society with no repercussions.
After a run-in with the crazy Doctor who is half of Tom’s age but apparently worked with him decades prior, Tom drops the bombshell.
“Miranda darling, we made you. You’re half alien. And the alien half is starting to try to take over.”
So let’s keep it low key from here while me and the Mex Dr Moreau try to work out how to quell the alien urges. Alright?
(Ummm, you mean the gonzo ½ British, ½ Australian sounding ‘Doctor’ who toys with genetically modded people and clones in his home labs?)
Meanwhile the glowing eyed, heavily made up, flying killer of random strangers does not keep it low key. The fork-tongued taxi driver with flailing tentacles and a protruding crocodilian jaw does not keep it low key. Even the Dr who bangs his own half alien hottie in the living room as people watch on does not keep it low key.
And finally Miranda herself decides low key is not a lifestyle choice that she is comfortable with. As the alien side gains strength the formerly prissy intellectual evolves into a sexually – and otherwise – aggressive dominatrix on the hunt for… donors? (Best believe the two things I had prior to ‘donor’ weren’t as bland.)
The rest makes even less sense as Miranda and the Doc’s glowing eyed hottie clone cruise around looking for somewhere to throw down once and for all. They find this somewhere in an abandoned ramshackle building, and set to a battle which is noisy, confusing and pointless. Like the film.
Final Rating – 5 / 10. Species 4 is obviously straight to DVD or pay-tv. An awful C Grade film with sub par ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ makeup partially redeemed by frequent pointless nudity and the sheer silliness of it all. Nonetheless I found it better than Species 3.
Quadrilogy Rating – 6 / 10. How to sum up a film series held together by the flimsiest of premises and 6 or 8 surgically enhanced mammaries? Where the ‘deadliness’ and threat to humanity seems to come from either being impregnated or ‘death by tongue stab’?
I guess if there is a moral to be had, this Species is occasionally nice to look at (due to its willingness to remove those uncomfortable shirts), but be warned not to fall in love with them because they grow fast and fade from memory faster.
That’s advice for the ages right there.