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movie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger, Susan Bartkowiak, Michelle Williams

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

SPECIES is a science fiction movie about an alien from outer space. Regardless of the name, this movie is really ALIENS 4. The monster looks and acts just like the one from the ALIENS trilogy. The main different is that SPECIES is set in the present and Sigourney Weaver is not among the cast.

SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Investigation) has been sending out signals into the far galaxies. It seems aliens have finally responded and sent us the code for a strain of their DNA. Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) is the vicious leader of a government team that took the alien DNA and combined it with a human DNA strand. The movie starts with them trying to gas an adolescent half alien and half human girl, Sil (Michelle Williams), who was the result of Fitch's experiment. Sil breaks loose and rapidly grows up with Natasha Henstridge playing her as a beautiful and sexy full grown woman. Aliens have never looked better than in this movie! The movie is about them chasing her all over LA while she kills people left and right with great blood and gore a la ALIENS. Major nightmares are possible from watching this film since she frequently reverts to her horrible alien self and demolishes people by pushing their guts or their brains out.

The team that Fitch assembles to find and exterminate her has a hired assassin, Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen), a microbiologist, Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger), a "telepath", Dan Smithson (Forest Whitaker), and a useless Ph.D. with a skill that I have since forgotten, Dr. Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina).

If you realize that you are seeing a film of TV movie quality, you can have fun watching SPECIES. Overall, it is predictable, but there is enough suspense wondering who Sil is going to kill next and watching her trying to pickup men, that the movie keeps your attention. The scenes of her picking up men are alternatively hilarious and scary.

The quality, especially of the script (Dennis Feldman) and the directing (Roger Donaldson), is low. Many lines were ridiculous and many of the actions were implausible. Let's say that you are tracking an alien so powerful that she can break through walls and so invincible that she can breathe cyanide gas, what weapons would you have your extermination team carry? How about a single guy with an average sized handgun and with everyone else unarmed? Sure.

Every time the script started to deal with the duality of Sil's being, it backed off. The inherent conflict with her human self and her alien self was fascinating, but the writer confined this conflict to her nightmares and daydreams. I wish the script would have had the courage to address the problem more fully.

The acting was mixed. Kingsley seemed uninterested in doing anything but collecting his paycheck. Whitaker was given a one dimensional role and yet he managed to make the most of it. Although neither Madsen nor Helgenberger did much with their main character's purpose, I did like their little romantic subplot, especially the scene were she finally wins him over. When she says "yessssss", it makes for a great, albeit short, scene.

SPECIES runs 1:50. It is correctly rated R for scary, gory, and bloody violence, sex, and nudity. It will scare the daylights out of some people so I think it is appropriate only for mature teenagers. I can not bring myself to recommend SPECIES to you, but if you do go, you will probably get engrossed in the story as I did and learn to ignore its many flaws. I give the movie **.

Copyright İ 1995 Steve Rhodes

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