Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Species II


Starring: Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger, Natasha Henstridge, Justin Lazard, James Cromwell, George Dzundza, Mykelti Williamson

Rated R for Strong Sexuality, Sci-Fi Violence/Gore and Language

One could make the argument that "Species" was stupid fun.  Sure, it was cheesy, derivative and predictable.  But it contained some decent shocks and special effects.  It was at least watchable and passably entertaining; the kind of thing that will absorb you when you're having trouble sleeping at 3 am.  The same cannot be said about the sequel, which, in addition to being all of those things I listed, is dull, hackneyed and misogynist.

After Sil was destroyed at the end of the first film, the U.S. Government cloned the remaining embryo, dubbing it Eve (Henstridge).  The thinking is to study it in order to prepare for a possible attack by the beings who sent them the data in the first place.  She's been genetically modified to make her more docile, although that didn't work out well in the first film.

Meanwhile, NASA has just put a man on Mars.  The captain of the mission (and first man on the planet), golden boy Patrick Ross (Lazard), is an instant celebrity, but a 7 minute gap in communication with the ship raises some eyebrows.  Guess what really happened?

I won't claim that any of the characters in the original were three-dimensional.  Or even had much of a personality.  But they showed flashes of humanity that made them at least mildly sympathetic.  That's not the case here.  In addition to being shallowly written and personality-deprived, they're self-centered jerks.  Everyone is always yelling at each other.  Director Peter Medak mistakes snark for just being a jerk.

The less said about the acting, the better.  Michael Madsen and Marg Helgenberger are sleepwalking through their roles, doing little to hide the impression that they'd rather be anywhere else.  Natasha Henstridge, never an actress of great range, simply stands around looking hot.  James Cromwell is always nice to see, but he's wasted.  And Justin Lazard is as stiff as he is studly.  He has two modes: "smoldering" and that of a deer caught in the headlights.

Like the original, this film is loaded with sex, nudity and gore.  That led to some great eye candy, but that's not the case here due to the circumstances in which it occurs.  In the original, Sil was desperately looking for a mate so she could start the ball rolling on the extinction of the human race.  This time, it's Patrick's turn.  The ever-horny Patrick supposedly rejects mates if he senses any genetic flaws (something that is only used to allow Mykelti Williamson, who plays his co-pilot, Dennis Gamble, to tag along offering lame one-liners), but Patrick is constantly on the prowl, and as good-looking as he is, it's bad news for any woman who is turned on by his charms.  They tend to impregnate and then explode within a matter of minutes.  In one truly distasteful sequence, the suspense comes from watching Press and Dennis trying to catch up with Patrick before he rapes a lovely woman in a supermarket.  Very nice.

The first film is worth seeing if you have a lot of beer.  You'd best stay away from this one.

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