She's a predator . . . her eyes are in front
trebe | 07/17/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A science fiction based adventure with a fresh premise, Species (1995) is still probably most remembered for Natasha Henstridge's provocative performance in her feature film debut. With a background in fashion and modeling, the shapely twenty one year old was very comfortable with her body, and had few inhibitions about nudity. These factors would prove to be quite helpful, in the role of a sexy looking alien, seeking to reproduce. In addition to Henstridge, the film directed by Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days), features a stellar cast that includes Ben Kingsley (Ghandi), Michael Madsen (Kill Bill), Marg Helgenberger (CSI), Forest Whittaker (The Last King of Scotland), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2), and Michelle Williams (Dawson's Creek).
As part of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program, the US Government receives information from an alien race about how to create a new form of life. A research team headed by Xavier Finch (Kingsley) successfully produces a female alien named Sil, who escapes from a lab in Utah, when an attempt is made to terminate her life. Looking like a teenager, young Sil (Michelle Williams) escapes aboard a freight train, and then switches to a passenger train bound for Los Angeles. Aboard the train, Sil transforms into an adult (Henstridge), and hits LA eager to find a mate.
The Government organizes a team to hunt down the alien. Biologist Laura Baker (Helgenberger), anthropologist Stephen Arden (Molina), expediter Preston Lennox (Madsen), and empath Dan Smithson (Whitaker), are recruited to join the team led by Fitch. Tracking Sil, the team finds a bloody trail of those she has rejected as mates. As the group closes in, Smithson emerges as one of the keys to being able to locate Sil. The alien is quickly learning skills that help her to survive, and she does eventually find a mate, before escaping into the sewer system to give birth.
Although the film features special effects at key points, there isn't an overreliance on CGI. The affects are generally done pretty well, and Species does not appear too dated. Sil doesn't have a lot of dialog, and the character is heavily defined by her actions, as well as Natasha Henstridge's physical attributes. Her naked body is amply exposed at various times, but the nudity is tasteful, and appropriate to the story, which is constructed better than your average monster flick. Henstridge's performance has an uninhibited innocence, and makes for an impressive debut. Madsen, Helgenberger, and Whitaker also assume lead roles, and help to bring the film to an exciting climax.
Recorded some ten years after completion, a commentary track featuring director Donaldson, and stars Madsen and Henstridge, is informative, lively, and entertaining. Everyone is on good terms, and seems to be in a candid mood. Henstridge seems to have no regrets about making the film, and recalls how she was robbed while out on a date with one of the cast.
The success of Species has inspired as least three sequels, with Henstridge starring in Species II (1998), and making a cameo in Species III (2004). The franchise may have finally run its course with Species: The Awakening (2007). Well written, with sharp dialog, the original film is far and away regarded by most, as the best of the series, and strongly recommended to fans of science fiction and action movies."