Species III (2004)
Species III (2004)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.

Release Date: December 7th, 2004 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Brad Turner Actors: Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Sunny Mabrey, Amelia Cooke, J.P. Pitoc, Michael Warren, Christopher Neame, Patricia Bethune

 


 

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lthough it might not seem possible, the opening title graphics have gotten worse, despite the several years that have transpired since the release of “Species II.” Part of the problem is that this third entry in the series isn’t theatrical; it was made for television, even though it boasts an R rating (an unrated version with about a minute of extra footage is also available). And beginning with flashbacks from the previous two films, it definitely feels as if a lower-budgeted switch-up – as if a pilot for a TV series.

“They’re here now. And they are not going away.” Picking up directly after the events of “Species II,” the crew of the ambulance carting away Eve’s (Natasha Henstridge) mutilated body is in for a shock when the corpse proves to be alive. And she’s joined by not one, but two offspring, one of which is born in front of driver Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper), who runs off with the child as Eve is strangled to death by the older son perched in the corner of the vehicle. As many times as Eve has faced death, it’s curious that suffocating her with an alien tongue for just a few seconds is what finally does her in.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Ashland Generating Facility, scientist-in-training Dean (Robin Dunne) briefs a gathering of suits about his team’s prototype fusion reactor, which is highly dangerous (yet terribly under-guarded) but also a wonder that could produce clean energy for the whole city. When the department head threatens to cut funding to Dean’s project, proclaiming that fusion research is a pipe dream, Dean worries about the resulting loss of his scholarship. This amuses one of his instructors – none other than Dr. Abbot – who doesn’t like his student’s tardiness and the boy’s willingness to speak up about the inherent weaknesses of viruses. But Abbot has more important things to deal with – such as the little girl whom he keeps locked in a lab in his basement, a human/alien hybrid that grows at an exceptional rate.

Although this third chapter in the “Species” franchise manages to get Henstridge for a small part, and follows along directly with the storyline (regularly referencing scenes from the other films), it immediately makes little sense. Inexplicably, the ambulance driver is a camo-clad soldier, a medical professional, and a university professor, with knowledge of Eve, Patrick, and other top-secret government experiments; he wasn’t involved previously and wasn’t at the scenes of the various extraterrestrial incidents, yet he’s well-versed in the accelerated growth rate and feels comfortable bringing home Eve’s daughter, whom he names Sara (after a Sara Lee dessert). Strangely, however, he isn’t aware of what will happen when Sara becomes a young woman. And then he recruits Dean to help him create a pure strain of alien DNA, to which the student barely registers shock. No one is all that surprised by the existence of extraterrestrials walking among us.

“It’s not murder. She was just following instinct.” The gooey and gross special effects return, occasionally making use of poorer computer graphics, along with a striking blonde (Sunny Mabrey as the adult Sara) who prances around in the nude and is perpetually hungry for opportunities to mate. But the sensibilities of this picture have decreased even further than in the last two, muddying up the alien’s life cycle, its capabilities, its defenses, its life span, and even its ultimate motives. Here, Sara can even absorb knowledge simply by touching a book. If the monstrous species was poorly defined before, it’s almost incomprehensible now.

“You don’t want the tongue.” Also unfortunate is the decision to poke fun at some of the franchise’s tropes, while also repeating a remarkable number of actions. The filmmakers have run out of new things to try with this premise and this creature, and so they resort to duplicating key concepts and sequences (from an over-the-top autopsy to severed limbs that regenerate to aggressive men unaware of the volatility of their potential conquest). Plus, the frequent toplessness, tentacle rape, alien sex, and bloody violence are at the forefront. But despite the familiar themes and acceptable performances, the subplots become tedious (a roommate connecting with an online babe is utterly moronic), the running time overbearing, and the content increasingly dull – something that should be hard to do considering the prevalence of spilled blood and exposed skin. “Look, we’ve been down this road before … twice.”

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10