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SPECIES III

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: 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
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: December 7, 2004

Film 1/2*

There's something 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 to.

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 a favor.

BONUS TRIVIA: As it turns out, the director, Brad Turner, has directed a number of episodes of my favorite TV show, 24.

Video ***

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.

Audio ***

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.

Features ***

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.

Summary:

Species III exists for two reasons; to garner interests of fans who were wanting more, but more importantly as a reminder of how very good the first Species was. If this series is to be continued, it is in dire need of more involving installment.

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