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Species started a series, but seriously?

Updated on August 26, 2011

The 1995 movie, Species--Natasha Henstridge's first movie--kicked off a series of movies spanning 12 years and four movies. Really?

Now, this first one is okay on its own merrits, though at times it seems largely an excuse to show images of a pretty young woman naked. Sure there's sci-fi violence and gore as well, but they really seem to have fun with the nudity.

The movie starts in a lab where Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) is looking through a glass wall as a pair of techs prepare to gas a young girl with cyanide. You aren't told anything specific regarding why. The movie just drops the story in your lap.

Anyway, we quickly learn that the girl is not a normal human when she breaks out of her holding cell and escapes.

Four people are brought in with varrying backgrounds to help track her down: Dan Smithson (Forest Whitaker) is an empath; Dr. Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina) is from the Harvard anthropology department where he is an expert in cross-culture behavior; Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen) a tracker and bounty hunter for the government; and Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) is a molecular biologist.

They lern that the a signal was received from an extraterrestrial source that described an alien strand of DNA and instructions on how to combine it with that of a human. Not seeing any problem with this, and having brains the size and density of walnuts, they decided to go ahead. I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?

The result is a young girl--Sil (Michelle Williams as the young version and Natasha Henstridge as her va-va-voom adult self)--that grows exceptionally fast until she reaches maturity, then her biological clock kicks in and she wants a baby. However, it turns out that killing all potential baby-daddies before making sexy times with them is a poor way to go about this. Who knew, right?

Overall, this one's not terrible, but it didn't speak to me as needing a sequel, despite the attempt at the end to indicate that this alien DNA is already taking root on Earth.

But I guess any movie where Natasha Henstridge goes around naked half the time is going to arouse the audience's ... ahem ... artistic sensibilities enough for them to want a second go. A bit of a sloppy second go, but that's a different article entirely.

And the sexuality of the show even extends to the design of the alien creature itself. Naturally it would have a female form, but there are countless ... um ... metaphors sprouting from her body to represent sexual dominance and even used to kill. Two of them sprouting right from her forward torpedo bays. Seeing as how the alien was based on designs by H.R. Giger (who also gave us the xenomorph of the Alien series), it's understandable. His artwork is laden with distorted images of human sexuality combined with alien and technological imagery.

(I recommend not doing a Google search for his works unless you're ready to be driven insane. But that's just me.)

In the end, I was entertained enough by this one--if only barely--but didn't really feel I needed to see more.

The characters aren't particularly deep, and some of them aren't even particularly likeable. And the story just felt weak.

I give this one 6 / 10.

Species is rated R for language, violence and gore, and lots of nudity.


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