Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Donaldson|
|Produced by||Frank Mancuso, Jr.|
|Written by||Dennis Feldman|
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Editing by||Conrad Buff|
|Running time||108 minutes|
Species is a 1995 science fiction horror film directed by Roger Donaldson, and starring Natasha Henstridge, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker and Marg Helgenberger. The film is about a group of scientists who try to track down and trap a killer alien seductress before she successfully mates with a human male.
The film produced one theatrical sequel in 1998, Species II, which had Henstridge, Madsen, and Helgenberger reprise their roles. It was followed by the direct-to-video Species III in 2004 and Species: The Awakening in 2007, which stands as a separate film, not as an official follow-up to the previous three.
During the SETI program, Earth's scientists send out transmissions (shown to be the Arecibo message) with information about Earth and its inhabitants, DNA structure, etc., in hopes of finding life beyond Earth. They then receive transmissions from an alien source on how to create endless fuel effortlessly. Therefore, the scientists assume that this is a friendly alien species. But from a second alien transmission, the scientists receive information about an alien DNA along with instructions on how to splice it with human DNA. A government team led by Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) goes forward with the genetic experiment hoping to induce a female with "more docile and controllable" traits. One of the hundred experimental ova produces a girl named Sil, who looks like a normal human but develops into a 12-year old in 3 months.
Sil's violent outbursts during sleep make the scientists consider her a threat. They try to kill her using cyanide gas but instead she breaks out of her containment cell and escapes. The government assembles a team composed of anthropologist Dr. Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina), molecular biologist Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger), empath Dan Smithson (Forest Whitaker) and mercenary Preston "Press" Lennox (Michael Madsen) to track and destroy Sil. Sil matures rapidly into an adult (Natasha Henstridge) in her early twenties and makes her way to Los Angeles. This makes tracking her extremely difficult. She is incredibly strong and intelligent with amazing regenerative powers. The scientists fear she may mate with human males and produce offspring that could eliminate the human race. Sil lacks inhibitions when it comes to killing people who get in her way and wants to produce offspring as soon as possible. She frequently morphs into her alien form, a bipedal creature with tentacles on her shoulders and back.
Sil tries first to mate with a man she meets at a night club, but after sensing that he is diabetic, rejects him. Unsatisfied, he then tries to forcibly initiate sex, prompting her to kill him by puncturing his skull with her tongue. She then tries to mate with a man she meets after a car accident. They swim in the man's pool where Sil forces the man to open his swimming trunks in order to mate, but the man refuses. This is interrupted by Press and Laura. She kills the man and flees naked into a forest without being seen by the team. She pretends to be a rape victim, and then proceeds to kidnap a woman. She fakes her death by crashing the woman's car into a high voltage transformer during a high-speed chase.
After cutting and dyeing her hair, she takes an attraction to Press and attempts to seduce him. She eventually copulates with Arden; then kills him when he realizes who she is and what he has done. The rest of the team then follow her into the sewers where Fitch is subsequently killed and the area where Sil and her offspring are, is destroyed. Press uses a grenade launcher on Sil, blowing her head off. The trio leaves the area. The last scene shows a rat chewing on one of Sil's severed tentacles; it starts to mutate into a vicious beast and attacks another rat.
- Ben Kingsley as Xavier Fitch
- Michael Madsen as Preston "Press" Lennox
- Alfred Molina as Dr. Stephen Arden
- Forest Whitaker as Dan Smithson
- Natasha Henstridge as Sil
- Marg Helgenberger as Dr. Laura Baker
- Michelle Williams as Young Sil
- Whip Hubley as John Carey
Written by Yvonne Navarro from the original screenplay, the book gives several in depth details about the characters not seen in the film, such as Sil's ability to visualize odors and determine harmful substances from edible items by the color. Gas appears black, food appears pink, an unhealthy potential mate appears to give off green fumes. Other character details include Press's background in tracking down AWOL soldiers as well as the process of decoding the alien signal. Although no clues are given as to its origin, it is mentioned that the message was somehow routed through several black holes to mask its point of origin.
Parts of these extra scenes and details are shown in the comic book adaptation by Titan Books. There is also a novelization by Navarro for Species II which follows the film's original screenplay with added scenes.
Species received mixed however mainly negative reviews. It currently holds an approval rating of 36% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews (12 positive, 18 negative). Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, criticizing the film's plot and overall lack of intelligence. Cristine James from Boxoffice magazine gave the film 2 out of 5 stars, describing it as "... 'Alien' meets 'V' meets 'Splash' meets 'Playboy's Erotic Fantasies: Forbidden Liaisons,' diluted into a diffuse, misdirected bore." James Berardinelli gave the film 2 and a half out of 4 stars, stating "as long as you don't stop to think about what's going on, Species is capable of offering its share of cheap thrills, with a laugh or two thrown in as well".
See also 
- "Species". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- "Species". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (July 7, 1995). "Species". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- James, Christine (August 1, 2008). "Species". Boxoffice. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- Berardinelli, James. "Species". Reelviews.net. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
- Species at the Internet Movie Database
- Species at AllRovi
- Species at Box Office Mojo
- Species at Rotten Tomatoes