Friday, February 5, 2016

Species II - Review - @BrandonCSites

Species II (1998) **
D: Peter Medak
C: Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger, Justin Lazard, Mykelti Williamson, George Dzundza, James Cromwell, Myriam Cyr, Sarah Wynter

Plot Synopsis: An astronaut gets infected with alien DNA during the first mission to Mars and runs amok on earth. Preston and Laura team up with a peaceful, genetically re-engineered Sil to track the monster down. 

Review: The Species franchise gets a Manchurian Candidate twist as the son of a powerful senator returns from a space mission to Mars infected with alien DNA. Complicating matters is that the alien from the original has been cloned into a half human hybrid intent on reproducing.

I got to give the franchise credit for not directly copying the story of the first, but the film lacks the nuance or even intelligence to be a biting satire of political intrigue much like The Manchurian Candidate was. The political figures that play into this are a general hell bent on containment at any price. A senator who doesn't give a damn about anything other then furthering his stance on space exploration and helping to stage his son's own political career. These characters are cardboard cutouts and recite the kind of idiotic dialogue that you would expect of someone like Donald Trump. 

On the other half, you have a story about aliens wanting to reproduce. None of this works. Involved in this part of the story is actors Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger & Justin Lazard. Madsen looks embarrassed by his appearance in this sequel. Helgenberger turns in a competent performance, but nothing more. Henstridge & Lazard are appropriate eye candy. Lazard engages in steamy sexual situations. There's a scene in which a nude Henstridge is strapped to a chair with blue straps strategically covering the goodies (so to speak). It's a visually arresting moment that's sure to get the blood of men (and even women) racing.

In between, there's scenes of graphic gore. Even though the special effects are elaborate, they fall flat mainly due to poor staging and camera work. As for the grand finale, Henstridge and Lazard's characters finally get to meet for some one on one action. I don't think I'm spoiling anything with this revelation. That's pretty much a given with the premise. However, when this moment arrives, there's hardly anything grand or exciting or even titillating about it.

Henstridge & Lazard strip down and that's about it for their physical interaction in human form. From there, they turn into CGI aliens. The special effects employed for the alien creatures are muddy and lack visual appeal. As this plays out, other characters stumble upon the situation. They stand back, observe and provide quips as to what's happening. They come across as commentators at a basketball or football game. I almost expected a score board to p
op up (on screen) to inform viewers as to how many points Henstridge & Lazard had scored. Maybe if a scoreboard had popped up, it would have provided some point of interest for what's an otherwise an underwhelming conclusion. 

Not all is lost. That saving grace comes in the form of Natasha Henstridge. Not only is she physically attractive, but she manages to inject she humanity into her half human, half alien hybrid character, despite her limited dialogue. Henstridge also demonstrates her athleticism in a credible manner. It's a juggling act and Henstridge pulls it off.

On the other hand, Species II tries to juggle being a sequel to a hit film, to taking on a Manchurian Candidate type plot, to featuring an all star cast, to providing gore & state of the art special effects, to having an outer space sequence, to giving us steamy sex and so on, all within the space of 93 minutes. In the process of juggling so many different things, its ambitions never align with what's presented on screen -or- to put it more simply, it over extends itself and falters as a result. [R] 93 minutes.

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AKA: Species II: Origins
AKA: Species II: Offspring

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