Species II (1998)
Species II (1998)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Release Date: April 10th, 1998 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Peter Medak Actors: Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger, Natasha Henstridge, Justin Lazard, Mykelti Williamson, James Cromwell, George Dzundza, Myriam Cyr, Sarah Wynter

 


 

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his follow-up to the 1995 sci-fi/horror extravaganza begins in space, with the ship Excursion deploying a lander to an alien planet. An astronaut touches down as well to trudge through the ruddy soil of Mars; Commander Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) becomes the first man on the red planet. But the film is quick to bring the horror back to Earth, which helps to distinguish it from the “Alien” series, from which the first film so obviously borrows an abundance of details.

Before the spacefarers return home, one of their samples thaws out and spills onto the floor, leading to a 7-minute blackout. The year isn’t specifically defined, but it doesn’t take long for the Mars crew to make the long journey back to Earth (suggesting very advanced technology), with three people infected by the foreign component. As it so happens, that contaminant is closely related to the original alien DNA used to create Sil. “No sexual activity for at least 10 days.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) is now in charge of the Extraterrestrial Vulnerability Experiment – or E.V.E. – which has taken one of the remaining alien/human embryos to create a duplicate of Sil, also dubbed Eve (Natasha Henstridge). Their mission is to conduct tests on the adult woman to determine ways in which they can combat evil alien entities should they ever pose a problem again – though methodically torturing the slender blonde over and over is a strange project for Baker to be so willing to oversee. Sure enough, the alien abomination comes back – from more than one source – dragging professional killer Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen), now in the private sector, once again into an alien manhunt. “Are you involved in this crazy bullshit?”

This time around, the film doesn’t take itself as seriously, which is appropriate during certain sequences, such as the setup, which stretches the realm of believability quite a bit – yet unfitting at others, such as with government goon Colonel Carter Burgess Jr. (George Dzundza), who is unable to avoid excessive sarcasm with every line of dialogue (while also done up to look like a James Bond baddie). When sci-fi/horror elements are difficult to swallow, it doesn’t help to be so glib and playful about the finer points. Even Helgenberger and Madsen, who were largely convincing in the previous episode, are now jokey and quick to crack wise. They even recruit one of the astronauts (Mykelti Williamson, another contributor to the comic relief) to ferret out Patrick, a move that seems insecure, ill-advised, and unnecessary. And when it comes to the biohazard facility in which Eve is kept, the security and protocols are nonsensical; despite verbal insistence that men must not enter, the rules are broken continuously and comically. “It would be foolish to take her out of a controlled atmosphere.”

“He wants to mate with her!” Ultimately, “Species II” is mainly focused on exploiting the combination of alien gore and sexuality (and alien copulation) that made its predecessor so commercially popular. The bloodiness has increased right alongside the sex and nudity, utilizing modest CG but more impressive amounts of practical effects that simply look better and age better. The plot has stayed about the same, however, though it’s spruced up with the familiar twist of turning the former villain into a protagonist, like in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Still, the increased silliness combats the heightened grotesqueries, resulting in a stale sequel full of potential but failing badly in execution. And the closing shots essentially mean that absolutely nothing has been resolved.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10