STARRING: Natasha Henstridge, Justin Lazard, Michael Madsen, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, James Cromwell

1998, 95 Minutes, Directed by: Peter Medak

specie2a.jpg (13255 bytes)The opening sequence of Species II may have struck its makers as a clever moment (and in retrospect it is probably the cleverest - and probably only clever - bit in the entire movie!).

However, it betrays a lot about the movie itself. In this particular sequence a huge orbital spaceship sent on a mission to Mars is decked out with Pepsi, Reebok and other corporate sponsorship banners affixed all across its hull.

Imagine the moon-landing back in the ‘Sixties sporting Nike logos all over the place and you have a pretty good idea of what I mean. That something as monumental as putting a man on another planet for the very first time should be exploited as a marketing event by shrewd corporate advertisers contains a certain truth about our cynical times.

It also contains, I’m afraid, a particular truth about Species II. This completely unnecessary sequel to the unexpected 1995 Species hit is also cynical at heart. The film serves as little else than an excuse to get the curvaceous Natasha Henstridge in various states of undress, revealing clothing and finally nude back on the big screen. When Natasha finally got rid of all her clothes the noisy punters in the cinema I saw it in were cheering - after all, this is what they had paid to see!

Along the way we were treated to some real B-movie material in the way that only the sci-fi horror genre can offer us nowadays: an incoherent plot, horror movie clichés and bad wooden acting from all concerned. But Species II ups the ante by adding more nasty gore and cheesy sex than most other mainstream movies I have recently seen. It makes the original Species (of which I’m not a particularly big fan - but enjoyed at a certain level) seem classy in comparison.

The movie is also soul-deadening in its conclusions that all a manned mission to Mars would ultimately amount to is bringing alien goo (very much like the Black Oil in The X-Files) that transforms those who comes into contact with it into viscous Alien-type monsters to Earth. If you had found the recent Pathfinder probe mission to Mars as exciting as I have then you’ll probably find this movie’s conclusions as depressing as I have . . .

In the end, Species II is like the prostitutes the main character hunts down to “mate with” - cheap and sleazy. If that’s your bag, then go see the movie. Just make sure that you didn’t eat anything beforehand . . .



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