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“Species III” — the sequel to a movie most known for introducing the beautiful Natasha Henstridge, in all her nude glory, to the world — is terribly slow, unfathomably uninspired, illogically long, dubiously illogical, and worst of all, inexcusably dull. To make a long story short (which, if you’re keeping score, is what the filmmakers should have done with this almost 2-hour movie), “Species III” had so little going for it that it decided to rely on gratuitous gore (mostly buckets of oozing pus) and forgetting to give its leading lady clothes to wear to somewhat please its gullible viewership.
Taking place (supposedly) after the events of “Species II” (and I say “supposedly” because my memory of the sequel is minimal at best), “Species III” opens with Eve (Natasha Henstridge, doing a 1-minute cameo, probably because she signed a contract way back in 1995 when the original came out that she had to do at least 2 sequels) being transported somewhere after having been “killed”. Although this is supposed to be a Super Duper Military Secret, one of the paramedics driving Eve to wherever the Guv’ment keeps dead aliens it had to hunt down after creating them in Illegal Secret Experiments Gone Awry (man, that place must be filled to the rafters!), one of the “paramedics” turn out to be a do-gooder college professor in disguise.
Before you can say, “Wait a minute, how did a do-gooder college professor manage to not only pose as a military paramedic, but get assigned to carry something as valuable as the carcass of a dead alien?”, another alien has somehow entered the back of the truck while it was en route. The alien (in the guise of a chubby fat kid, no less), kills the real paramedic, then snaps Eve’s neck like a twig. (Don’t tell me Henstridge didn’t demand they kill off her character so she wouldn’t have to come back.) The professor (whose name I swear I don’t remember), escapes with the baby alien Eve sort of just, er, squirted out before the chubby kid snapped her neck.
Cut to days later, where the Professor is seen teaching class. One of his students is junior Einstein Dean (Robin Dunne), one of those “movie geeks” who happen to have the body of Dean Cain (i.e. he’s a fake movie nerd, since as we all know real nerds are genetically incapable of being gym rats). The Professor, you see, has “grown” the baby alien in his basement, having developed the grandiose idea to extract the alien’s pure genes and make the perfect super being that will be resistant to viruses and such. All of this doesn’t necessarily preclude me from wondering how this guy ended up posing as a military paramedic just in time to pick up a supposedly dead alien, but I digress.
By a series of convoluted plotlines, the Professor convinces Dean to work with him on the Professor’s Ultimate Plan to Save Humankind. By now the alien child has grown up into the blonde Sunny Mabrey, whose character Sara looks a bit like a young Natasha Henstridge (which may explain her casting), except I believe the lovely Miss Henstridge had real breasts, and Ms. Mabrey’s breasts, exposed in all their full glory for much of the film’s second half, are strangely…misshapen? If those aren’t the product of a poor man’s surgical procedure, Ms. Mabrey should have a long talk with her parents, because something went wrong somewhere and someone needs to get sued.
Ahem. In any case, since the Guv’ment doesn’t seem particularly concern about, you know, a deadly and murderous alien species running around in the world, they send a bored black fellow in a trenchcoat after it. Yes, just that one guy. I kid you not. The guy is so bored, in fact, he doesn’t even bother to do much of anything until the movie is almost over. Man, saving the world just doesn’t have the priority it used to, but then again if bad sci-fi movies have taught me anything, it’s that the Guv’ment lets loose so many of these Illegal Secret Experiments Gone Awry that they’re probably all “blah” about it. What a bunch of slackers.
Meanwhile, as Dean and the Professor are doing experiments in the basement, Sara is running around the college campus looking for potential mates, and Sunny Mabrey is proving to the world that Natasha Henstridge is actually a pretty good actor after all. And oh yes, it seems a group of aliens, helpfully nicknamed by the Professor as “half-breeds”, are after Sara to mate with. You see, their alien gene is impure, and they need Sara’s mostly pure genes to save them. Without her, the half-breeds are literally falling apart and shooting pus out of every pore. It’s all quite disgusting, really.
Running at almost 2 hours, “Species III” makes the forgotten “Species II” look like a science fiction masterpiece by comparison. I kid you not when I say the film plods along at an unforgivable pace, barely able to summon even the smitten of energy or ability to enthuse the audience. Even the random spurts of alien action are lousy, especially considering that director Brad Turner has directed hundreds of action-adventure TV episodes. One would think that kind of experience would come in handy in action scenes, but one would be terribly mistaken.
For those who care, “Species III” is being offered in “unrated” and “rated” form. I do not suggest either version, especially since, according to Amazon.com, the “unrated” version possesses a walloping 1 extra minute of footage. That minute, I believe, doesn’t involve Ms. Mabrey shedding any more articles of clothing (since, as mentioned, she barely wears any to begin with), but rather for some deliberately gross sequences, such as a security guard getting cleaved in half and all those pus spraying. Really, folks, spraying pus is quite disgusting.
Despite everything, I have awarded “Species III” an extra half star for Amelia Cooke, who shows up about an hour and a half into the film. The actress, whose character’s name I don’t remember ever having been mentioned in the movie (as you have probably guessed, one’s mind tends to wander when watching unfathomably crappy movies; although IMDB.com credits her as “Amelia”), is a stunner, and had she been in the film longer than a measly 20 minutes or so, that extra half star would have been a full star. Oh, how I wish she and Mabrey had switched roles…
Brad Turner (director) / Ben Ripley (screenplay)
CAST: Sunny Mabrey …. Sara
Amelia Cooke …. Amelia
Natasha Henstridge …. Eve
Robin Dunne …. Dean