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 © 1995 Steve Rhodes