Species (1995)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Species</strong> (1995)

(On-demand, August 2012) Unaccountably, I had never seen Species until now, nearly seventeen years later.  For some reason, I had filed away this title as a throwaway B-grade monster movie, not worth the trouble to seek out.  But the future is now, and the film is only a few buttons away from on-demand viewing!  While Species is, in fact, a B-grade monster movie, it’s a slickly-made one, with a few good ideas and some noteworthy elements.  Take your pick of the various names featured in the credits: H.R. Giger’s nightmarish creature design (leading to a few “have I really seen this?” moments), a scene-setting performance by young Michelle Williams as a young alien on the run, Michael Madsen’s cocky turn as a special operative, Forrest Whittaker’s good take on a bad “empath” role, Ben Kingsley as a government operative, or Natasha Henstridge’s asset-baring first big-screen performance.  In Science-Fiction terms, Species is borderline incoherent nonsense, but it springs from a fairly clever conceit of remote alien invasion via radio-signal DNA sequencing.  (Other written-SF stories have tackled the idea, but it’s still relatively original for Movie-SF.)  There are also a few nice things to say about the themes of the film, which combine a few rough ideas about predation and reproduction with more standard horror-film tropes.  Plot-wise, the film remains a monster chase, but the team of monster-hunters is shown effectively, and the rhythm doesn’t really falter until the last act’s fairly standard subterranean heroics.  Species’ dynamic night-time chase sequences show that the film had a decent budget, making the B-movie exploitation elements seem all the more noteworthy.  While some of the film is still stuck in the mid-nineties, it hasn’t aged all that badly and rewards casual viewing even today.

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