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*Also starring: Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger, Susan Bartkowiak, Michelle Williams



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Andrew Hicks review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

The original title of this one was ATTACK OF THE HORNY SUPERMODEL FROM BEYOND, but the director changed it to SPECIES when he realized a title like that would doom the film to years of USA Up All Nite airings. Still, the horny alien supermodel is the main attraction of the movie, despite the top-billing of SCHINDLER'S LIST star Ben Kingsley. It's probably the only time in film history that bad science fiction has been given the Oscar-quality treatment. Of course, in movies of this genre, good acting is the last thing we want or expect. We need the bad acting as much as the obligatory shots of slimy, pulsing cocoons and drawn-out climaxes in the sewer, both of which are featured in SPECIES.

The acting, in fact, seems to be the only part of the movie that makes it seem like an actual movie, not just some showcase for cheesy effects and a foreign model to take her top off at the drop of a spacecraft. Natasha Henstridge makes her movie debut as half- supermodel, half-alien. She escapes government surveillance to begin a cross-country flesh rampage in an attempt to breed. Yes, she's horny--and dangerous. Called in by the government to hunt her down are a couple scientists, a hitman (Michael Madsen) and a guy with some unspecified psychic power (Forest Whitaker). Good idea. Read her palm to death.

Although the plot dictates that Henstridge be naked half the time in her ongoing attempts to conceive a child, most of the time her pods (so to speak) are strategically covered, so don't rent the movie if all you want is a peek of flesh. Besides that, there's a certain degree of repulsion when Henstridge changes back and forth between supermodel and grotesque alien. Thankfully, all the nude scenes are of the model and not the alien, though some science-fiction nerds would undoubtedly be turned on by the nude alien as well.

SPECIES is for the most part entertaining, if you overlook some of the ridiculous plot points and ineffective scenes of manufactured tension (i.e. the one where the two scientists are locked in the lab room with the growing alien). The climax scene is boring and unoriginal, but the rest of the movie is interesting and made watchable by the performances from Kingsley, Whitaker and the rest, including beautiful yet mostly silent Henstridge. And those gratuitous pod shots don't hurt either.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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