The woman is newcomer Natasha Henstridge, who spends most of the film in her birthday suit--or her alternative alien suit when the need arises. In case you haven't seen the previews, my friend pretty much summed up his impression of Henstridge by asking me during the film, "Did you write down 'babe-a-licious?'" My response: "One 's' or two?"
Species starts out with an interesting idea: that an alien civilization would radio us a plan to genetically engineer a new (and far superior) race, which would inevitably destroy us all. Henstridge is "Sil," the code name of the first of these creatures, which escapes from captivity much too easily and begins marauding Los Angeles in an attempt to mate. Sil is a femme fatale in the purest sense of the word. Believe me, when she says "no," she means it, as one guy who tries to take advantage of her quickly finds out.
The first half of the film is pretty good. Here, Sil is unsure of her identity, and she struggles with her half-human, half-lizard, half-cockroach existence, metamorphosing from one form to another when duty calls. Sil is on the run, but she doesn't know why; as a youth, her instinct hasn't yet kicked in, and because she's had no "upbringing," she survives on the street with only raw emotion. When the inevitable band of four scientists and hunter Michael Madsen come after her, Sil panics and must kill kill kill.
Needless to say, a somewhat thoughtful film was not what I was expecting out of Species , and sure enough, by the time the second hour rolls around, the film degenerates into a formulaic search and destroy movie. It's never scary. Even the [insert favorite non-threatening creature] suddenly jumping at one of the good guys doesn't cause much of a stir in the crowd.
The Giger-designed creature is okay, but it's just like the one in Alien. The main effects problem is the ending, where crummy digital animation is used in place of models and makeup, effectively negating any suspense, and making the finale look kind of funny. Even Marg Helgenberger, as Madsen's love interest, starts off as pretty cool, but she ends up as goofy as her compatriots (including much-better-than-this-film actors Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker) by getting stuck between some rocks.
Of course, Henstridge steals the show and makes the film nearly watchable. She looks almost inhuman as it is...and some of her transformation sequences are almost too real. In fact, I once dated a girl who...well, but that's another story.
Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th July 1995
Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 22
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Director: Roger Donaldson
Producer: Dennis Feldman, Frank Mancuso Jr.
Screenwriter: Dennis Feldman
Starring: Natasha Henstridge as Sil, Ben Kingsley as Xavier Fitch, Michael Madsen as Preston Lennox, Alfred Molina as Dr. Stephen Arden, Forest Whitaker as Dan Smithson, Empath, Michelle Williams as Young Sil, Marg Helgenberger as Dr. Laura Baker, Jordan Lund as Aide, Herta Ware as Mrs. Morris
Also starring: Dennis Feldman
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