The movie starts with a title intro reminiscent of Bodysnatchers
The hero is portrayed by Michael Madsen - Mr Blonde himself! The Antagonist is Natasha Henstridge , in her first movie role.
The movie starts by telling us that S.E.T.I. stands for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. We are then shown a secret US Govt lab in Utah, where a team of scientists [commanded by Ben Kingsley] prepares to gas a pre-pubescent girl. The girl punches her way through the unbreakable bulletproof glass, runs past the guards and is over the perimeter fence within seconds. She manages to outrun jeeps and helicopters, and gets to a passing freight-train. After a brief nightmare about some Gigerish monsters she kills a hobo with her bare hands.
The girl hops onto a passenger train bound for Los Angeles - lucky for her, the one city with no taboos - where an alien can blend in without question ...
Meanwhile, the team of hunters - Madsen, Helgenberger et al - is assembled and briefed by Kingsley.
The creature, now in the form of newcomer Henstridge, stalks the night-clubs of La-La Land in search for world-conquering sperm.
Eventually she gets what she wants - but with the hunters after her she makes for the sewers, and the standard explosive conclusion.
When Judge Dredd was being made in 1995, Producer Charles Lippincott defended the use of Sylvester Stallone in the title role because it was felt that a concept movie could not work without a major star. Species is a brave attempt to prove him wrong - although some might call it softcore porn dressed as Sci-Fi.
The film's main selling-points are 2-fold. Firstly, the newcomer Henstridge - the body of a supermodel, the morals of Sharon Stone . Secondly, the alien creature's other form, care of H.H. Giger himself.
Giger designed the creature - still angry at being replaced as Creature Designer in the Aliens series, he hoped for different treatment from Hollywood this time round. His concept of the alien included the idea that that it could create extremely high temperatures inside its body, and thus could not be destroyed by fire. Giger's intention was to make an original and more cerebral that usual climax to the film - one which unfortunately was not carried through. In fairness, though, the sequel's climax was more in line with what Giger intended - and is not the better for it.
All in all, you get what you pay for - Henstridge has great breasts, Giger has great aliens, and Michael Madsen [much underused, I'm afraid] gets to squint at the camera.
Rating = 60%
Species 2 is reviewed in this month's Video Roundup section.
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