The Films (3.5/5, 1.5/5, 3/5)
The original 1995 Species, is an odd sci-fi movie that tries to be hard science fiction with an erotic edge. I haven’t seen the original film since the early 2000’s, but I Remember it having an excellent cast for such a, let’s face it, silly movie. Species is more remembered as movie that quickly shot many a young boy into puberty, and I’m one of them. The film launched Natasha Henstridge’s career and she became a new figure of moviegoers wildest fantasies. That being said the movie isn’t the first one that you would think is franchise worthy. For better or worse the movie did spawn three sequels and The good folks at Scream Factory have brought them to the Blu-ray age.
Species 2 (1998) picks up a few years in the future. Earth’s first trip to Mars is a success, except for an alien virus that infects the three astronauts, including Patrick (Justin Lazard). Patrick soon starts noticing that he is becoming a half breed alien with a burning need to breed. Luckily for Earth, a group of scientists have cloned the previous deadly female alien half breed into a more controllable one named Eve (Natasha Henstridge returning), who has the ability to sense where Patrick is going. The only problem is Eve wants to become his mate.
Species 2 is definitely not what you would call a “good” movie. It is, however, a great and sometimes hilariously silly popcorn movie with plenty of action and fun bad moments. Species 2 knows what it is and runs with it. While the story is slimmer, the sleaze and fun isn’t. The gore is greater, the sex is more in your face, and the dialogue is just as goofy.
On a visual level, the cinematography is pretty lively and the budget really shows on screen. The effects work is good and slimy and not to mention the miniatures. Nothing beats practical effects. The cast is all game here, Henstridge is still a cool icy presence, Michael Madsen is giving his 100% tough guy act, and Justin Lazard is very creepy as Patrick. The only downside to the movie is once the gang gets back together the script keeps reminding us that this is an indeed a sequel. You can only say how can this happen again so many times.
Species 2 apparently didn’t do too hot at the box office, so Species 3 was made for the direct to sci-fi channel and DVD market. Species 3 picks up right at the end of two. The army van that is taking Eve and one of the alien babies is suddenly stopped when the driver decides to kidnap Eve’s new offspring. Eve (Natasha Henstridge) is quickly killed off after giving birth to her new daughter. The little boy escapes and the driver (Robert Knepper) takes the new born to his home where he starts to raise her and call her Sara. Once Sara (Sunny Mabrey) has grown into an early adult, the driver is soon shocked to see the alien boy is now a man, and a very sick one. He soon discovers that Sara is the only pure Alien half breed and the others are dying off. Can Sara escape before she is cornered by the other Aliens or the FBI?
Species 3 (2004) quickly became one of the worst horror sequels I’ve ever seen. Calling it a cash in would be too nice. The cheapness of this movie is unbelievable. Every scene is underlit and shot with no idea of proper framing. Almost every aspect of this production shows off the worst in Sci-fi channel original programming. The worst being it constantly is trying to fit the movie into the Species universe. The flashbacks and referring back to the previous two entries is doing it no favors. Natasha Henstridge’s Cameo is too quick and cheap. Any stunt woman could’ve filled that spot. As a replacement for Eve, Sunny Mabrey as Sara is given nothing to do expect pace around and stare off into space.
My biggest complaint is the movie is nearly 2 hours long and feels twice its length. Almost nothing happens in this movie. The movie tries to be serious as possible but because of its length and lack of plot there’s almost nothing to do expect look at your watch.
After the misfire of three, I was worried about the fourth entire in the series, but good news Species the Awakening (2007), is a really good time. Miranda (Helena Mattsson) is a college professor who lives with her Uncle (Ben Cross) and leads a simple life. Things change when she mysterious blacks out and wakes up to discover she is actually half alien. To escape being arrested, Miranda and her Uncle go to Mexico to discover more about her past and who made her.
Species The Awakening is a glorious piece of direct to video cheese, but boy what a fun creature feature it is. The movie wisely dismisses the boring misfire of Species 3, and starts its own story. The movie is actually more of an Asylum Films style mockbuster of the original Species. While the movie is indeed cheap, it more than makes up for it with creative action scenes, and eye popping candy colors. Also the Mexico setting gave it more flavor and spice then the flat college town in Species 3. The sleaze level is bubbling over with flying nuns, alien cat fights, Mexican hooker fights, bullet time silliness, and some of the cheapest car stunts.
Species The Awakening also has an enjoyable cast. Ben Cross is a likable antihero who keeps getting caught up in weird situations. Helena Mattsson is easy on the eyes and does what she can with her part. Maybe it’s because I watched this right after 3, but Species the Awakening was a fun b movie with plenty of so bad its good moments for a bad movie party. Bring plenty of beer, popcorn, and friends.
Audio/ Video (4/5, 2/5, 4/5)
All three movies come with 5.1 surround sound audio, and a 2.0 stereo track. English subtitles are also available. There’s some minor audio drop out around the 3o minute mark for a few seconds on Species 2. Species 3 has a few pops during the climax, but overall the films are pretty clear.
All three movies are 1080p with Species 2 looking the best. Species 3’s transfer is fine but the film is not doing it any favors. Awakening has some heavy grain issues during the last 20 or so minutes. All are perfectly watchable but the jewel of the three is Species 2.
Extras (4.5/5, 3/5, 3/5)
Scream Factory has done it again with a heavy helping of extras, that makes this blu-rays worthy upgrades.
Species 2 comes packed with extras including Sil to Eve interview with Natasha Henstridge (16 mins), Creature Creations (28 mins), Alien Evolutions interview with screenwriter Chris Brancato (19 Mins), Special Effects outtakes and Behind the scenes footage (13 mins), Species 2 Eve of Destruction (original making of, 11 mins), Audio Commentary with Director Peter Medak, and the original theatrical Trailer.
Species 3 comes with five featurettes: Evolution (13 mins), Species DNA (6 mins), Alien Technology (5 mins), Intelligent Lifeforms (9 mins), Genesis (featurette on the first three movies, 8 mins), DVD Trailer, and an Audio Commentary with Brad Turner, Ben Ripley, and Robin Dunne.
Species the Awakening comes with two new interviews: Alien Awakenings with director Nick Lyon (15 mins), and Miranda’s Memories with lead actress Helena Mattsson (9 mins).
Overall (4/5, 3/5)
Scream Factory continues to make great releases of even the most mixed horror films. Species 2 is a fun over the top sequel that knows it’s more of the same, and Species the Awakening is a fun bad movie to enjoy with drinks and friends. By all means skip Species 3. Recommended.