Review: “Species”

With one or two key exceptions like “Seven” and “Goldeneye”, 1995 was almost without question the worst year of the 1990’s in terms of good mainstream movies coming out. Yet, because there was so much crap flowing through the system – occasionally there came along a film so deliciously trashy it was almost impossible not to enjoy whether it be the all too silly action of the third “Die Hard” to the eminently quotable “Showgirls”. Hidden amongst all this came “Species”, a sci-fi horror thriller about the scientist-led manhunt for an alien in the body of a gorgeous blond model who needs to procreate.

The result is a film I would gladly rate as a guilty pleasure. “Species” is hardly anything new or daring, and its overuse of really bad CG looks horrible these days. Yet, compared with some sci-fi blockbusters of late it holds up better thanks to it being a film which isn’t afraid to have fun and show off its best assets (namely tits and gore) but kept things in a serious tone. Director Roger Donaldson keeps the pacing fast and is good with the scares, whilst the slower bits never get too dull.

Also helping is the assorted variety of actors on hand which goes to show what a Hollywood reversal of fortune can mean. At the time nearly ten years ago the big names of the ‘five man’ team where Kingsley, Whitaker and Madsen – all of whom have worked patchily and aren’t held in high acclaim much anymore whereas the then hardly known Alfred Molina and Marg Helgenberger are now two of cinema & television’s strongest actors respectively. Each character is flat, Whitaker’s is laughable actually, but they each have their own presence trying to struggle out of the clunky dialogue, whilst the chase scenes do yield the occasional bit of good tension.

Henstridge though is the surprise – the blond babe plays the wide-eyed yet driven girl surprisingly convincingly – it’s an odd role of confusion, innocent pleasure and sociopathic behaviour – yet she easily delivers the best performance of anyone in the film. “Species” has a major share of problems though. The script for starters which sets up the interesting but unbelievable premise. The various sequences work to extend the action before the inevitable final showdown. The less said about the absolutely horrid direct to video sequel the better, but this first entry is a delight for fans of purely trashy mainstream monster movie efforts like “Anaconda”.