Species (1995) – A Review
A team of scientists led by Ben Kingsley have combined alien and human DNA to create a new species. Unfortunately, this results in a bit of trouble. This little alien girl named Sil has escaped from her cell and because having an escalated growth rate is now a sexy blonde (Natasha Henstridge) who is out to breed.
So, Kingsley has to recruit an elite team to track her down, which includes a tracker and assassin (Michael Madsen), an empath (Forest Whitaker), a molecular biologist (Marg Helgenberger) and an anthropologist (Alfred Molina).
I never got this movie.
Species was directed by Roger Donaldson. It has managed to become something of a cult film and through the years it has gained its fair share of fans. I saw it when it first came out, didn’t care for it and quickly forgot about it.
I know there were sequels, ones that I had no interest in watching. I never found anything in the original thrilling or cool or cheesily funny. Whatever allure there is that sci-fi/horror fans have about this movie it escapes me. The most I took away from Species is Henstridge being naked a number of times and a few nice practical effects when she kills people.
There’s a good group of actors here, but they’re all just wasted. It’s surprising. I watch this and the idea of sticking Kingsley, Madsen, Whitaker, Molina, Helgenberger all in a room together sounds like that alone will be a highlight in any movie. Instead their scenes end up boring me to tears. There’s no fun chemistry happening. All their roles are just thinly sketched out and no one is able to do anything special with them.
I get the impression none of them were very excited to be there and they didn’t get into the spirit of making a goofy, gory B sci-fi movie.
Plus, the movie takes itself so ultra seriously! The few instances where there’s some jokes, mainly by Madsen, don’t manage to inject any fun into this.
Madsen by the way I find kind of annoying in this. He does his usual thing, doing his sleepy-looking, slow-talking, ultra-cool Michael Madsen, but somehow here he comes off as extremely drained. It’s like Madsen-lite. He’s the cool leading man with all the answers and it’s such a clichéd character that he looked as bored playing in this as I was watching it.
The best unintended laughs come from Whitaker who attempts to bring some kind of deeper meaning to Sil by spouting out his psychic vibes. I don’t see much point in having him around. They should have just picked up another assassin to hunt this alien down.
I never got clued in on any broader meanings in the story that a psychic was needed to convey it. We get some flashes of Sil’s memories, but it never comes across clearly or really goes into any detail. And there’s certainly no kind of moral dilemma the scientists struggle with over killing something they created.
Bah. It’s a sexy looking alien. She’s killing off competing women and potential mates with some nice gory special effects while showing off her boobs. This pack of good guys have to kill her before she successfully has sex with someone. End of story.
It sounds like a tailor-made flick for lovers of nudity and sci-fi. What a combination! Sort of a sci-fi ‘Skin-A-Max’ experience. But it never ends up being as much fun as the idea sounds.
A lot of the logic in the story also confuses me. Sil is unable to find a man to have sex with in L.A. – already that’s pushing believability to its limits. Somehow all her possible hook-ups go sour or are interrupted. I get that. Sil has the most basic human desire to procreate, much the same way Helgenberger wants to get it on with Madsen.
So, at one point Sil painstakingly fakes her death in front of the team. Now after faking her death, being able to go anywhere in the city without the team following her, she goes back to the bar the team is hanging out at. She follows Molina back to his hotel room with the intention of having sex with him, which Molina gleefully goes along with – despite him being on a mission to find an alien who looks like a hot woman, is out looking to breed and who’s supposed death looked suspicious. Her actions make absolutely no sense to me.
I thought she was smart. And Molina is a complete moron.
The movie doesn’t ratchet up the tension and importance of Sil being stopped before she gives birth. Everyone is running around just missing Sil, but there’s not a lot of suspense to it. The movie wraps up with an Alien-type searching scene in the sewers trying to kill Sil, which she has shed its hot Henstridge skin and is now looking like some wonky CGI creature. Eh, whatever.
I think mainly the reason this movie is remembered is because Henstridge is naked a lot in it.
My reviews of the rest of the Species franchise