Review by Gordon Justesen
Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Amelia Cooke, J.P. Pitoc, Michael Warren,
Christopher Neame, Natasha Henstridge, Sunny Mabrey
Director: Brad Turner
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: December 7, 2004
I've come to noticed in many sci-fi movie series. By the third or fourth
movie, the effect has totally been lost, especially if the first film in the
series was such a terrific one. That was the case with the Alien series, which was close to ruined by the god-awful Alien
Resurrection, and now the Species series
has officially sealed its fate with the direct-to-video third installment.
I surprise many
when I tell them how much I enjoyed the original 1995 Species. It was an enjoyable, fast paced B-movie with a different
type of storyline. The story involved the hunt for a female test subject who had
escaped from a lab facility. The twist to the story is that this particular
female intends on giving birth to an alien through impregnation. I thought it
was terrifically crafted piece, and perhaps the 90s answer to the original Alien.
To tell you the
truth, I have no idea why I bothered to have high expectations for Species
III, since I already thought the first sequel, 1998's Species
II, was quite possibly one of the worst sequels on record. The fact that it
was a direct to video release didn't hint much greatness either. The bottom
line is that Species III is just as
bad as Species II, giving further
illustration that this series should've stopped at the first movie.
This time around,
the story, for what it's worth, involves the exiting of female alien Eve
(Natasha Henstridge), which is another bad sign for the series. Before she's
dead, she ends up giving birth to a new alien spawn, who grows into a beauty
named Sara (Sunny Mabrey). Where the plot goes from here is easy to predict,
since it's essentially the same plot lifted from the first movie.
Actually, the movie
tries too hard to convince us that it is a smart flick, and because the film
runs at an unnecessary 112 minutes, there end up being a lot of talky scenes
that slow the movie down entirely. Most of the time, the dialogue consist of
hokey science talk, most of which is uttered for about 60% of the movie. Hey, if
I want to be entertained by a creature movie with laughable dialogue, I'll
resort to a repeat viewing of The Relic,
which dazzled and entertained a hell of lot more than this movie could ever hope
We're given a
plot involving a crazed scientist/professor (Robert Knepper) who, with the
assistance of a grad student named Dean (Robin Dunne), attempts to extract DNA
from Sara. The goal here is to use the DNA to help create a race of humans who
can be free of disease. Needless to say, things go haywire and Sara escapes to
do the unthinkable, but predictable.
Another reason I
admired the first Species were the
creative special effects. Even by today's standards, this nearly ten year old
flick still manages to impress. Hell, the effects in Species II weren't that bad at all. But even for a direct-to-video
release, you'd think a little bit of change could've been used in the makeup
effects department. Not once does it show Sara morphing into the alien. She
confronts someone, the camera cuts to their face, then back to Sara—now
looking like an alien. The look and design of the alien in this installment are
so incredibly bad that Barney the Dinosaur's costume looks more threatening.
Bottom line, if you
saw the first Species, and you enjoyed
it like myself, do yourself a favor and skip Species III. You'll be doing yourself and maybe even the universe
BONUS TRIVIA: As it
turns out, the director, Brad Turner, has directed a number of episodes of my
favorite TV show, 24.
Given the limited
budget of the film, I'm kind of surprised that MGM ended up boasting a nice
enough video presentation. The anamorphic picture looks quite decent, with light
sequences appearing as clear and natural as they can. Darker scenes suffer in
comparison, but not so much to make the entire viewing a bad one. Overall, a
good enough looking release.
The 5.1 mix
provided by the folks at MGM gets the job done for what it can. Surround sound
quality does figure into the presentation numerous times, and dialogue is
delivered clearly, and moments of alleged tension do sound better than expected.
For this Unrated
Special Edition release, MGM included some good bonuses. To start with,
there's a commentary track director Brad Turner, writer Ben Ripley and star
Robin Dunne. In addition there are four featurettes; “Alien Odyssey:
Evolution", "Alien Odyssey: Species DNA", "Alien Odyssey:
Alien Technology", and "Alien Odyssey: Intelligent Lifeforms".
Lastly, there's a Behind-the-scenes photo gallery, and trailers.