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She-alien on a quest to get pregnant
on 23 February 2014
Any movie with an HR Giger alien is automatically worth investigating -- the man has an ongoing nightmare for an imagination.
And sadly that is the biggest innovation of "Species," an interesting but deeply flawed sci-fi movie that tries to inject some sex appeal into tentacled reptilian horrors. It's an entertaining story about a baby-crazed alien woman and the group who is trying to stop her, but the story falls apart at the end.
An alien civilization sent SETI a formula for combining their DNA with ours. Scientists created a half-alien child named Sil (Michelle Williams) -- and when they try to kill her to "terminate" the experiment, she breaks out. So Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) calls on a bounty hunter (Michael Madsen), two scientists (Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger) and an empath (Forest Whitaker) to find her.
The problem is, Sil has rapidly matured into a beautiful woman (Natasha Henstridge) and is driven by an incredibly strong reproductive drive. Unfortunately, she's also leaving a trail of corpses behind her. The team are playing a wild cat-and-mouse game with the sensual alien, hoping to stop her before she pops out a kid.
There are two major things you will remember about "Species": HR Giger's elegantly nightmarish design for Sil's true form... and boobies. Lots of boobies. It's basically your standard people-hunting-an-alien story, but with the addition of some steamy sex scenes and lots of nude/semi-nude Natasha Henstridge.
And for the first 3/4ths, it works fairly well. The story is split between Sil's adventures in L.A. and the team's attempts to track her, and there's a healthy dose of gore, sex, and nightmarish surrealism (GNASHING SKULL TRAIN!). But things unravel in the last act when Sil transforms into a hilariously awful CGI model, and the sillness is amped up to 11 -- seriously, nipple tentacles?!
As for the characters... well, none of them are very fleshed out. Michael Madsen is interesting as a bounty hunter for the government, and Molina and Helgenberger are pretty standard "good scientist" types. Ben Kingsley looks vaguely disinterested, as if he doesn't really want to be here.
Oh, and Forest Whitaker is UTTERLY WASTED as the Deanna Troi "empath." Seriously, the dude never says anything that either hasn't been revealed already, or isn't glaringly obvious. If Sil had stolen a fridge filled with food, his brilliant revelation would be, "She's hungry." He could have been cut from the movie without any impact.
But Natasha Henstridge is really brilliant as Sil. She's an enigmatic, childlike creature with a child's cruelty and curiosity -- she's as likely to smash another woman's spine as she is to buy a frilly dress, and Henstridge really gives it life.
"Species" is burdened with flimsy characters and a silly climax, but it is a fairly entertaining "killer alien" story nonetheless. Too bad they didn't stop here.