If you have been following my articles, you will be aware of the fact I have been revisiting the Species franchise in order to dissect the films, and find out where things went wrong for what started as a brilliant idea…
Last time I reviewed Species II, and although enjoying it to an extent, I felt that there were large gaps in the plot which couldn’t simply be explained away by the fact there were numerous re-drafts to the script during filming. Species II didn’t kill the franchise, but it had dug itself a hole that it was going to have to work hard to get out of.
This time I will revisit Species III, the third film in the franchise. III is believed by many to be what ultimately drove the stake into the heart of the franchise.
With a drastically lower budget than the previous two, and cursed to live life as a straight-to-DVD release, III would not be up the standards of the previous two entries, production-wise.
Unlike Species II, III picks up only moments after the previous entry. Eve is being transported by an ambulance to an unknown location; I presume it is yet another top secret government base or laboratory, as has been seen in previous films.
While travelling, the driver of the ambulance: Dr. Abbott is rudely interrupted when a large amount of blood begins spraying about in the back, he stops the ambulance after nearly crashing to take a look.
Before I move any further I will make things as clear as I can: This film completely contradicts the ending of the second film and will leave you baffled, confused, and angered! When Abbott checks out the back, he finds that, Eve is still laying flat out, and appears to still be pregnant, which is completely mad as I clearly heard her stomach burst open at the end of the second one, something I’m sure everyone else who has seen it would confirm.
This is where the contradictions really start to become noticeable, Patrick’s only remaining child (who travelled with Eve at the end of the second one if you set your mind back), is played by a completely different, actor. They could have gotten away with it if he actually looked similar, but this film tries to convince me he put on an extra five stone in only a few minutes, something I really don’t buy into.
The next contradiction is the cat that was in the ambulance at the end of the second one is now gone. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad contradiction, as it was a stupid moment anyway.
Eve awakens for a brief moment, it would turn out she wasn’t dead at the end of the second one after all, just unconscious, yet another stupid moment, and we’re not even five minutes in yet.
Eve reveals her stomach from under the covers, which splits open as a newborn baby emerges. Natasha Henstridge is credited as having a cameo in this film, but quite honestly, I really don’t even consider it that. She was commissioned to do three films, and she really could have been given a bigger part in this film, her absence was a notable one.
The imposter who claims to be Patrick’s son quickly kills Eve by wrapping his tongue round her neck and suffocating her. Abbott for some ridiculous reason seems to think it’s a good idea to take the baby home, and does so.
There is one consistency I am beginning to notice in these films: the stupidity of the characters, who seem to do things without explanation or reason. A perfect example is that in the second film, Marg Helgenberger’s character seems to suddenly have a change of heart about the alien, and even agrees to take control of the project…even though in the first film it was made clear that Sil tried to kill her. Unless of course I have seen a different film.
Anyway, we cut forward to a few weeks later when Eve’s child, now called “Sara” has grown into a young girl, and is living at Abbott’s house. It’s not long before Patrick’s so-called child makes a return, now a fully grown adult. He reveals to Abbott that he has contracted some sort of disease only Hybrids can catch, making Sara immune. A couple of very ropey special effects later and the Hybrid has melted all over Abbott’s desk.
Now the stupidity begins to consume the film. At this point I really was finding it hard not to just call it a day, and switch the TV off. After this Abbott decides it’s a good idea to create a mate for Sara using her DNA, with the assistance of one of his student’s: Dean, who is purely created as a love interest for Sara.
Shortly after this, Sara ‘cocoons’ and grows into her young adult form. This is a moment which made me laugh, as after reading on Wikipedia that when she exits the cocoon you can clearly see her ears are pierced, I caught a look for myself. Wikipedia is right.
Sara has an encounter with another Hybrid who wants to mate with her, but she quickly discovers he has a disease like the hybrid that melted in Abbott’s office and rejects his offer. Even more ropey special effects later (including Sara’s arm growing back after a train tears it off, and two tentacles from her back cracking the skull of Abbott’s boss), we are taken back to Abbott’s house, where his experiments are well underway.
Sara returns but is followed by the hybrid who tried to mate with her, (think of Kevin Costner in “The Postman”; that’s what he looks like) who attempts to kill her out of anger, however, very predictably, Abbott tries to break things up and is killed in my personal highlight of the movie when he is thrust into a wall by the Hybrid’s tentacles, and becomes impaled (I’m sure you’re surprised I could even think of a highlight).
After this we are introduced to Dean’s roommate who in what I would describe as the most ridiculous moment in the entire of the franchise makes contact with the leader of the hybrids: Amelia. The way in which contact is made is over a computer, she offers him sex in exchange for Dean’s notes on cloning, something I seriously though must be more complicated, but no, that was it.
Amelia shows up and kills a hairy biker on the way there, in a sex scene which quite honestly made me feel a little sick. She then kidnaps Dean’s room-mate (I wish I could remember his name, but I really can’t).
After his room-mate is kidnapped, Amelia and Sara team up for some reason in order to get him to use the plans to create them both a mate. Dean meanwhile is casually making his way to where his roommate is being held captive, unaware of what’s taking place, only to be introduced to a “Government Agent” as he is credited, who claims he has been searching for Sara since they discovered Eve had given birth.
This all seemed a little last minute to me, it almost seem like it had been thrown in because otherwise things would go on forever. So Dean and the extremely 2-D agent make their way back to Abbott’s old house, gathering up what had been produced using Sara’s DNA and then heading to a nearby power plant to dispose of them.
Things were all starting to become a little blurred by this point, and my attention had drifted to what was going on in “Come Dine with me”. The 2-D agent disappears as quickly as he reappeared never to be mentioned again and in the first semi-decent special effect of the film, Amelia slices a security guard in half.
There is a final battle between Sara and Amelia, as Sara suddenly switches sides and defends Dean, who it is clear she has feelings for. This fight wasn’t terrible, I will give it that, but by this point I really couldn’t care less what was going on, I had lost interest about half an hour before this. Anyway, back to the fight: Sara sacrifices herself by throwing Amelia into the core of the power plant and Dean is left reeling for his love interest (who wasn’t a very good actress anyway).
The finale sees Dean’s roommate making his way to Abbott’s old house, which I’m surprised no-one has moved into by now, only to find Sara still alive, and in a twist that made me cringe, a flashback shows that Dean caught Sara at the last minute, preventing her from falling into the core.
The end of the film sees Sara heading into a forest with a clone Dean created for her (which he claims is unable to reproduce). Afterwards Dean asks “why did you save me?”, and she replies with a line that made me cringe even more than the flashback: “Maybe someday you will know”. This tries to be enigmatic, but fails to do so. The last shot see’s the date “1912” on a bridge, which I believed was of importance, however this proved not to be the case in the next film.
Overall this entry in the Species franchise was the worst to date, with bad writing, bad acting, bad special effects and the appearance of a film made on a digital camera by a group of friends “looking for a laugh”.
If you are going to start watching this franchise, you should give this one a miss and cut straight to the final film. Species III made any further sequels unlikely, and managed to enrage a few fans along the way, with an entry that even die-hard fans will struggle to embrace.
Shockingly, there was one more Species film after this, 2007’s Species: The Awakening, which I’ll be looking at next time – and I will finally be able to say at exactly which point the Species franchise went into cardiac arrest.