Species II (1998) – A Review
|Natasha Henstridge in Species II|
The Species threat is back – in a much more convoluted, confusing and unexciting way than before.
After the first manned mission to Mars, the crew accidentally picks up an alien strain that infects lead astronaut and JFK-in-the-making Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) making him an alien with only breeding on his mind. This could spell doom for humans! Being an American hero he has no problem getting it on with chicks and making them spit out alien babies.
Meanwhile, despite her apprehension from the previous movie, Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) has reengineered a new alien species by the name of Eve (Natasha Henstridge) from the original species’ Sil’s DNA. Eve is much more docile and won’t harm anyone, no worries. When the word gets out that Patrick is making alien babies there’s no choice but to get a team together to hunt him down. Luckily Michael Madsen joined Helgenberger back for this sequel so he can participate in insipid action scenes and try to help sell this muddled mess.
Damn, this movie is bad!
Any hope that Species was going to be a popular franchise gets destroyed with this horrible, lazy follow-up. At least I would have thought this would have destroyed it. Amazingly they made more of them after this, but each being less successful than the previous. Deservedly so.
While watching Species II it started to remind me a bit of The Exorcist II: The Heretic. Both movies took what made their predecessors so popular, scraped it and created a type of sequel that no one wanted to see. You know, how in Exorcist II they have Linda Blair hooked up to dream machines, she just kind of sits around, is merely present in the movie and does nothing? That’s sort of Henstridge’s role in this.
Good or bad, Henstridge was the lynchpin that helped make Species so popular with fans. They wanted to look at the sexy lady disrobe and do alien stuff. So I don’t understand why this sequel completely wastes her by locking her in a cell for ninety percent of the movie. I doubt fans were too keen that the focus in the sequel shifts to Patrick and his sleazy breeding adventures while Eve is forced to the sidelines. She finally breaks out at the end and takes off her clothes, but it’s a long slog to get to that point. That should have happened in the first fifteen minutes, not the last!
The logic leaps begin to pile up to such a degree I just accepted a coherent story was not the priority when making this and gave up trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Like, why is Mykelti Williamson who plays one of the Mars astronauts suddenly running alongside Madsen looking for this alien? Why did the infected female astronaut not turn into a full-blown alien and just died? What was that anonymous alien arm that killed the doctor? Why are the soldiers trying to kill Eve with regular guns when inside the facility they have these specialized weapons Helgenberger has made to detain her? There are no answers.
Species II does has sporadic moments where it seems it’s not taking itself as seriously as the original. It tiptoes into self-referential ridiculousness and that provides a chuckle or two, but they breeze past so fast and are so brief I can’t say they make this movie any more bearable. There’s the Mars spaceship with corporate logos stuck on the side of it. Richard Belzer plays the President of the United States. I was really stunned by that one!
Madsen has a few incredibly, terrible lines that I didn’t know whether they were meant to be funny or if he was legitimately trying to be cool with them. “Welcome to the maternity ward…..from hell.” Ooof.
My favorite Madsen moment is when he and Willamson are trying to catch a fleeing Patrick at a supermarket. During their frantic pursuit the pair knock over a stockboy, which Madsen points his gun at the poor sap and yells, “Where’s the god damn cereal?!?”It might sound sacrilege, but I was never real keen on the alien design. I realize it was done by the great H.R. Geiger, but it never did much for me. I always thought it looked like a mix of a Gremlin, Whoppi Goldberg and King Tut’s coffin.
The actors go through the motions in the worst way. Forget phoning it in, this is airmailed! I might have complained about Madsen and Helgenberger’s chemistry in the first movie, but here they might as well not even have been in the same room! Somehow Peter Boyle and James Cromwell got lured into participating in this for an easy paycheck. And Henstridge who should have been the focus of this sequel and had a follow-up capitalize on her becoming one of the sexiest, most popular sci-fi women around, is barely given anything to do. It was such a terrible miscalculation! They had it all there and blew it!
The movie does offer up it’s share of boobs and gore, so if that’s your basic – very basic expectations then you should find those bits satisfactory. Anything more, forget it. It was a painful experience and made me miss the original film, which I thought was impossible to do.
We’ll see what awaits me in Species III.