Species II (1998)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Species II</strong> (1998)

(On-demand, August 2012) Sequels are almost expected to be markedly worse than the original, but even with lowered expectations, it’s remarkable how quickly Species 2 goes rancid.  The original may not have been exceptional, but it had some basic competence on display.  This isn’t the case here, and it’s exhausting to point at all the reasons why the film is so awful.  Despite a few good ideas and an intriguing opening-up of the plot far beyond the original’s scope, Species 2 quickly shoots itself in the foot thanks to terrible writing, no control over tone, overuse of exploitation elements and little conceptual coherency.  Perhaps the single funniest aspect of the film is seeing Michael Madsen and Mykelti Williamson play their roles as if they were in a comedy film: Madsen almost seems to be parodying his own role in the original (unlike Natasha Henstridge, who plays it straight) and their ham-fisted antics make for a strange counterpoint to the deadly-serious acting by James Cromwell and Justin Lazar as they try to work out father/son dramatic issues in a film that’s really more interested in sex and violence.  The gore and nudity seem far more exploitative here than in the original, to little effect when the rest of the film is so uneven.  Some interesting set design can’t compensate for flat direction, a repellent quasi-joking attitude toward serial sexual violence, and gag-inducing dialogue.  Cataloguing Species 2’s plot-holes would require more effort than a film of this nature deserves, and that stands as a damning overall assessment.  It’s easy to find more than a few recent straight-to-DVD movies that were better than this theatrical release.

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