MGM // 2004 // 112 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 7th, 2005
Beauty is only skin deep.
In the previous two Species films a giant slithering alien came to earth to cause mass destruction and reproduce (to recap: trash the place and get laid). In this straight-to-video third installment -- Species III -- a new alien is born of Sil (Natasha Henstridge, John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars), who passes away in the beginning of the film. This new alien, known as Sara (Sunny Mabrey), quickly grows under the care of Professor Abbott (Robert Knepper, Phantoms), a kooky Frankenstein-esque father figure to Sara. As Sara grows, she begins to hunger a mate, which causes all kinds of dangers for innocent bystanders (screw STDs -- the real issue you need to watch out for with Sara is having her tongue jammed into your brain cavity). Prof. Abbott recruits a young student, Dean (Robin Dunne, The Big Hit), to keep Sara under check and help him with some wacky new experiments. Needless to say, this all ends badly with a large body count and a showdown inside an old warehouse/factory that is the epitome of the word "cliché."
There is no mistaking it: Species III is the worst kind of bottom-of-the-barrel, straight-to-DVD fodder. I mean, it's not Shannon Tweed Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure bad, but it's pretty close.
The first Species movie was, at best, only okay, so you can imagine how bad Species III is if the original was only mediocre. To add insult to injury, I didn't think things could get any worse after watching Species II -- that movie was a true stink bomb of epic proportions (if I remember correctly, it was as if they patched it together out of deleted scenes from the first film -- blah). You know a movie is in trouble when there are seemingly dozens of bare breasted women walking around on-screen and you still have the agonizing desire to hit the fast forward button on your controller.
The director of Species III is Brad Turner, who worked often in TV and should probably stay there -- his direction on this film is amateurish. The editing on Species III is just as bad, with scenes pasted together so poorly that it's hard to tell what's going on (a fight scene between the two aliens appears to have been shot by a blind man with Parkinson's disease). Shockingly, original star Natasha Henstridge returns for a brief cameo as the sexy alien Sil, but is killed off minutes after the opening credits (which bodes well for her, since the less she's in it the less she'll be associated with its atrociousness). The rest of the actors are forgettable, save for Sunny Mabrey (The New Guy) as the new alien menace, and the only reason you'll remember her is because her areolas get as much screen time as her face.
The movie's true death knell is that it runs nearly two hours long, about a fourth longer than any B-grade straight-to-video title has the right to. Apparently someone -- the writers, the execs, or the director -- thought that audiences would invest enough in the banal characters and sluggish plot to sit through this for almost 120 minutes. They were wrong. Species III should do the honorable thing and be the conclusion to this series of low-level sci-fi thrillers once and for all.
Species III is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. MGM has certainly made sure that owners of widescreen TVs can take advantage of Species III's schlocky goodness. This transfer looks decent with colors and black levels all well balanced and bright. From what I could see there were no major imperfections or defects in the picture. While I wouldn't consider this to be a great looking transfer, overall it looks better than most straight-to-DVD fare -- not that it really matters.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Hoo-wee! Fans will be delighted to know that while they won't be able to tell what the hell is going on during the action scenes, you'll certainly get an earful throughout the entire length of the film. Both the front and rear speakers are engaged during many of the action scenes (if we can even call them that), making for a slightly above average listen. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Shockingly, MGM has the gall to think people will actually want to learn more about the making of Species III after they watch it (me, I want to erase the whole dang thing from my head). Extra features on this disc include; commentary by director Brad Turner, writer Ben Ripley, and actor Robin Dunne explaining why they made the film and what their thoughts are about the finished product; four very short "Alien Odyssey" featurettes ("Evolution," "Species DNA," "Alien Technology," and "Intelligent Life Forms") that give a little info on the making of the film, including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with a few cast and crew members; and behind-the-scenes photo gallery of images from the film and production.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Commentary Track by Director Brad Turner, Writer Ben Ripley, and Actor Robin Dunne
* Four Featurettes
* Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery