×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Species

A propulsive sci-fi actioner genetically engineered from spores of the "Alien" and "Terminator" series, Roger Donaldson's "Species" provides a gripping if not overly original account of an extraterrestrial species attempting to overwhelm our own.

With:
Fitch - Ben Kingsley Press - Michael Madsen Arden - Alfred Molina Dan - Forest Whitaker Laura - Marg Helgenberger Sil - Natasha Henstridge Young Sil - Michelle Williams

A propulsive sci-fi actioner genetically engineered from spores of the “Alien” and “Terminator” series, Roger Donaldson’s “Species” provides a gripping if not overly original account of an extraterrestrial species attempting to overwhelm our own. While its sketchy characterizations and downplaying of ideas in favor of conventional plotting may fail to please sophisticated buffs, taut direction and scary visual effects should allow pic to mutate healthily at domestic and foreign B.O. sites.

After explaining that scientists have attempted to reach extraterrestrial intelligences by broadcasting our DNA code to the stars,tale’s ingeniously attention-grabbing opening shows a young girl (Michelle Williams) being gassed to death in a subterranean lab by scientists led by Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley).

Why would such an innocent be treated so cruelly? And how does she manage to smash her way out of the death chamber and scamper off into the Utah desert? Answers emerge as it becomes apparent that the fleeing child’s abilities are in fact nonhuman, and Fitch assembles a team to track her down.

The recruited experts include Press (Michael Madsen), a Marine-trained tracker and assassin; Dan (Forest Whitaker), an “empath” who can read thoughts and feelings; Laura (Marg Helgenberger), a molecular biologist; and Arden (Alfred Molina), a Harvard anthropologist.

By the time Fitch explains that Sil, as the creature is known, was engineered from human DNA and a code received from outer space, sent by a race whose motives are found to be suspect, she has wreaked murderous havoc on an Amtrak train and morphed into a strikingly gorgeous blonde (newcomer Natasha Henstridge , a Canadian model).

Since her mission is to reproduce as quickly as possible, Sil is singularly fortunate that Amtrak deposits her in singles-scene L.A. Here, as the culturally challenged mutant adorns herself in a fetchingly mod bridal gown, then sets off for the nearest trendy nightclub, Dennis Feldman’s script introduces elements of comedy and satire that mesh awkwardly, if sometimes amusingly, with the mood of sci-fi menace; thematically, it’s as if “Alien” had met a winking cousin of “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

Sex, mayhem and chases thus dominate tale’s final hour, as Fitch’s team scrambles to catch up with Sil, who leaves a trail of hunks in her wake until she manages to get impregnated by seducing one of her pursuers.

That the pic’s climactic set piece more than passingly recalls “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is only one of many instances where innovation bows to precedent.

Similarly, Kingsley and other lead thesps have only two-dimensional roles to engage them, and H.R. Giger’s designs for Sil’s alien self, while suitably horrific, bear noticeable similarities to his “Alien” prototypes.

Still, thanks to Donaldson’s high-velocity direction, Richard Edlund & Steve Johnson’s lavishly realized effects and the sharp lensing of Andrzej Bartkowiak, pic ends up an effective thrill machine, delivering action and suspense that should engage all viewers apart from those who look to sci-fi for more cerebral and ambitiously speculative satisfactions.

Species

Sci-fi thriller -- Color

Production: An MGM/UA release of a Frank Mancuso Jr. production. Produced by Mancuso, Dennis Feldman. Executive producer, David Streit. Directed by Roger Donaldson. Screenplay, Feldman.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Andrzej Bartkowiak; editor, Conrad Buff; music, Christopher Young; production design, John Muto; art direction, Dan Webster; set decoration, Jackie Carr; costume design, Joe I. Tompkins; sound (DTS Stereo), Jay Boekelheide; visual effects supervisor, Richard Edlund; creature and special makeup effects, Steve Johnson; "Sil" design by H.R. Giger; associate producer, Mark Egerton; assistant director, Egerton; casting, Amanda Mackey, Cathy Sandrich. Reviewed at MGM/UA Theater, New York, June 26, 1995. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 108 min.

With: Fitch - Ben Kingsley Press - Michael Madsen Arden - Alfred Molina Dan - Forest Whitaker Laura - Marg Helgenberger Sil - Natasha Henstridge Young Sil - Michelle Williams

More Film

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Richard Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up of late, like fragrant [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

  • Roman Polanski extradition

    Academy Responds to Roman Polanski: 'Procedures Were Fair and Reasonable'

    UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to a lawsuit from director Roman Polanski that claimed he was unfairly expelled from the organization behind the Oscars. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said. The Academy’s statement [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content