Species, 1995, directed by Roger Donaldson
...full review posted at http://www.rambles.net/species95.html
Imagine if an alien like those from the Alien/Aliens series of films
were loose on the Earth. Instead of lurking within the walls of a
spaceship or distant colony, it hides within the oh-so human-looking
form of the beautiful Natasha Henstridge. And its goal isn't to kill,
although it never balks at doing so; it wants to reproduce.
While the plot of Species has been used in various forms in the SF
genre, there's no denying that this entry into the field has a lot
going for it, including intense alien artistry by H.R. Giger (who
also produced the Alien design). However, it also has many
The movie is a combination of search-and-destroy, alien bug hunt and
sexy thriller. Henstridge, who made her first mark in Hollywood with
this movie, wants to mate, and she's not subtle in her efforts. The
only surprise is that it takes her so long to land a man in bed.
Ben Kingsley is Xavier Fitch, the scientist who crossed human and
alien DNA and "fathered" her in a secret government lab. Joining him
to track his escaped creation are contract killer Preston Lennox
(Michael Madsen), scientists Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina) and Laura
Baker (Marg Helgenberger), and psychic Dan Smithson (Forest
Whitaker). Unfortunately, Kingsley's character is never well
developed, despite hints of real humanity hidden behind his cool
facade. The other actors fared worse, rarely giving us the sense that
they're on a serious and dangerous hunt, and sticking to the
stereotypes -- the gruff killer, the romantic female, the goofy
foreigner and the sensitive guy -- for this sort of film.
Henstridge, however, deserves full credit for carrying the movie, and
not just on the strength of her breasts (which, admittedly, get a lot
of camera time). She does a fine job portraying the confusion of an
alien "child" in an unknown world, the ruthlessness of a creature
driven to follow its natural instincts and the sensuality of a woman
on the prowl. Michelle Williams makes a strong appearance as a
younger version of the alien hybrid -- bewildered, betrayed and on
the run. Some of the film's best storytelling takes place with
Williams, not Henstridge, in the title role.
While I can't fault Giger's alien design, the CGI effects at the end
did not bring his vision to realistic life. The ending followed the
formula a little too closely, bringing things to an unsatisfactory
end and setting up the obvious sequel. Much of the script's potential
was ignored, unfortunately, so filmmakers could focus instead on
blood, shock and, of course, Henstridge's magnificent breasts.
This movie won't appeal to many on the basis of its story alone, but
SF fans will enjoy the setup and suspense.