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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'Species II'

13 April 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A hit in the summer of 1995, "Species" added lots of sex to the overworked humans-versus-killer-E.T.s genre, but it was otherwise relentlessly derivative, starting with H.R. Giger's "Alien"-like creature. It's safe to say people paid to see newcomer Natasha Henstridge as a naked, horny babe from space, and one expected more of the same in the sequel.

Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. with the original film's writer Dennis Feldman serving as executive producer, MGM's "Species II" is a clunky, poorly conceived follow-up directed with no particular flare by veteran Peter Medak (TNT's "The Hunchback"). There's more than enough blood and sadistic imagery to generate ghoulish word of mouth, but the plot is ludicrous, the dialogue laughable and the performances uninspired.

Henstridge as Eve, a half-human/half-alien clone made from a frozen lab embryo by the returning molecular biologist Laura (Marg Helgenberger), is kept in the wings for most of "Species II". Heavily guarded and hooked on TV shows, she's a docile, simple-minded version of the first film's man-hungry lead.

Eve has been created so that Laura can figure out what kills her. Insurance against future extraterrestrial threats, to be sure, but Eve is no "lab rat." She's part human and it hurts when she's gassed. Playing at times like a twisted soap opera, the movie starts on a epic note, with the first landing on Mars.

"Species II" is primarily the story of the dashing astronaut Patrick (Justin Lazard), who wins everlasting fame as the first hunk to plant the flag on another planet. But he unwittingly collects something nasty in his soil samples and, in a sequence worthy of "The Blob", the crew is slimed with uncertain results.

Back on earth, it's not long before Patrick is screwing and killing women in repulsive scenes of instant conception, pregnancy and gut-busting delivery. The result is a small army of young Patricks and the return of Press (Michael Madsen), who teamed up with Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Forest Whitaker in "Species".

This time ex-assassin Press is joined by Gamble (Mykelti Williamson), Patrick's fellow astronaut who is not infected. They take orders from the one-eyed zealot Colonel Burgess (George Dzundza). Patrick's father, Senator Ross James Cromwell), is forgiving because of his own ambitions for his son, but he's one of many who pays the price for having no clue about what's really going on.

And one certainly pays for the privilege of watching this movie, with such unsavory memories as watching hard-to-kill Eve shot up by a dozen soldiers or a woman's head sawed through during a sickeningly gratuitous autopsy scene. The cheap thrills keep coming, like it or not, while overall the production is lacking in visual pizzazz and the monsters and spaceships are adequate but nothing special.


MGM Distribution Co.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents

an FGM Entertainment production

A Peter Medak film

Director: Peter Medak

Screenwriter: Chris Brancato

Producer: Frank Mancuso Jr.

Executive producer: Dennis Feldman

Director of photography: Matthew F. Leonetti

Production designer: Miljen Kreka Kljakovic

Editor: Richard Nord

Costume designer: Richard Bruno

Music: Edward Shearmur

Creatures/special makeup effects: Steve Johnson

Casting: Amanda Mackey Johnson,

Cathy Sandrich



Press: Michael Madsen

Eve: Natasha Henstridge

Laura: Marg Helgenberger

Gamble: Mykelti Williamson

Colonel Burgess: George Dzundza

Senator Ross: James Cromwell

Patrick: Justin Lazard

Running time -- 93 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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