Directed by Peter Medak. Starring Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, George Dzundza, James Cromwell, Myriam Cyr, Justin Lazard. (1998, R, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 17, 1998
Mars needs women! (Or, at the very least, a better method of conception.) This bracingly inane sequel to 1995's surprise hit Species operates on the classic more-is-better conceit, this time featuring more stillborn dialogue, more preposterous plotting, and loads more gore (courtesy of Steve Johnson, who can still make a pregnant woman's distended belly explode like nobody's business). Henstridge's legions of salivating fans will unfortunately be nonplused to learn that the only thing this sequel offers less of is that actress's much-anticipated nude scenes, with only one climactic rutting in the final reel. Instead, the fleshy action film revolves around returning Mars Mission commander Patrick Ross (Lazard), who is just back from that angry red planet with a snootful of fizzy alien DNA cluttering up his already randy bloodstream. A boldly paranoid metaphor for AIDS, or a boldly silly metaphor for high school libidos run amok? Your guess is as good as mine, but in the end the point is moot: Species II is formulaic sex and violence devoid of even a smidgen of originality. When Ross and his two co-crew members touch down back on Big Blue, he receives a hero's welcome, and the promise from his Senator father (Cromwell, a long way off from Babe here) that, “Someday, son, you're going to be the president.” Ross couldn't care less about his political future, though; he's too busy giving it up to the evil within and schtupping every woman in sight, popping tentacles like some wild Japanese anime demon and ushering in his ominously silent, newborn progeny in the barn out back. Henstridge's Sil, meanwhile, has been cloned from her dead self and renamed “Eve” -- half human, she's been part of an ongoing biological government experiment, cloistered away in a Biohazard 4 room and attended to by a group of all-female scientists headed by Helgenberger's Dr. Laura Baker, who understands intuitively that Eve -- like, um, Spock on a nasty Romulan Ale bender -- is half human and half green-blooded, pointy-eared sex machine. When Ross and Eve finally come into close proximity, Eve's alien mating instincts take over and the H.R. Giger-designed effects go into horrific overdrive, which, of course, can only lead to one thing: the arrival of Madsen's security expert Press Lennox (!), a comically burly ex-NSA thug with a penchant for laser-sighted hand cannons and some of the worst lines in recent film memory. Then it's on to a stilted clash of the titans as Eve and Ross duel it out and goo gets more screen time than anything else. Shoddily plotted and unimaginative, Species II is a slapdash effort at best, creepily unaffecting and minus the T&A this sort of film so desperately hinges on.