Species III / Species: The Awakening – Scream Factory Blu-ray Review
Oh Species, what happened to you? You had such potential. Two movies in a row that was great, save for a weird ending involving a random cat, and you had to piss it all away on two direct to video sequels that fail to capture the same kind of wacky fun the first two had. The following two movies have their ups and downs. Species III tries hard to impress, giving us a wonderful amount of nudity by lead actress Sunny Mabrey and female co-star Amelia Cooke to gawk at and a couple of cool kill scenes, but its DTV look and excruciatingly long runtime work against it. Species: The Awakening, on the other hand, dumps the nudity in favour of, well, not much to be perfectly honest. I will say this, though, the lead actress Helena Mattsson is smoking hot. So you may be asking, why bother reviewing these abysmal sequels? Well, the reason being is Scream Factory has gone ahead and released them on a Double Feature set, each coming on their own separate disc and it’s my unpaid job to let you know whether you should pick it up or not. With that said, let’s get this review show on the road…
DISCS: 2 RUN-TIME: 112 / 103 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/1 RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 2004/2007 RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2016
A Double-Dose Of Sci-Fi Terror, Uncut And Unrated!
SPECIES III In the ongoing fight for supremacy between mankind and human-alien hybrids, a fatal weakness among the hybrids has given humans the advantage… until now. When Sara (Sunny Mabrey, Snakes On A Plane), the daughter of Eve (Natasha Henstridge, Species), is born, she develops into the most genetically perfect alien form yet! Seeking to repopulate Earth with her kind, this dangerously beautiful femme fatale heeds an overwhelming drive to mate… while a crack military team trails her in an attempt to end the war between the two species forever!
SPECIES – THE AWAKENING When brilliant college professor Miranda Hollander (Helena Mattsson, American Horror Story) suffers a mysterious blackout and awakens amid the bloody aftermath of a mass slaughter, she turns to her uncle for answers. But when he reveals the shocking truth… that she’s only half human, a clone from a hybrid of human and alien DNA, they must flee to Mexico to locate the scientist who created her. Soon they find themselves locked in battle with a horde of rampaging, unstoppable hybrids… and time is running out before Miranda will inevitably surrender to the killer instinct that lurks inside her own body!
It was six years ago that we got the wonderful sequel Species II, which upped the ante on everything: nudity, gore and all-around fun times. Species III tries hard to do the same but fails on so many levels. The first offence is the injustice done to Natasha Henstridge’s character Eve. The film picks up from the last one (the cat is nowhere to be seen) and Eve has given birth to Patrick’s offspring. The random child, who just happened to be hanging out in the ambulance from the last movie takes care of Eve and that my folks is all the screen time she gets. A measly 5 minutes or less. Okay, I understand we need to move on and not copy the last films, so let’s see where the movie takes us.
We end up following Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper), the man who was driving the army truck that carried Eve. He takes in the baby and tries to raise it. Of course, this is a deadly alien baby we are talking about, which can grow up substantially faster than most children, so we don’t see much of a childhood here. Sara, who got her name from Sara Lee cakes (I kid you not), blossoms into the beautifully naked Sunny Mabrey, whose first instinct is to mate. However, we find out she can’t mate with humans, but only with other aliens. Lucky for Sara, there is a ton of hybrids running around thanks to that child in the ambulance. The hybrids, however, are ill and dying off quickly. In comes the super hot Amelia (Amelia Cooke), another alien hybrid who has tracked down Sara and is forcing Dr. Abbot, along with his partner Dean (Robin Dunne), a student of Abbots, to take Sara’s embryos and merge them with the hybrid alien DNA to create a super alien that can, I don’t know, mate more? To be honest, the entire plot can be widdled down to the following: see hot alien chick naked, mate with other aliens, insert other hot naked alien chick trying to make the perfect alien. The end.
The problem with Species III is that it goes on for way too long. The runtime is a whopping 114 minutes, which is insane! There are numerous scenes that should have landed on the cutting room floor. This trimming could have brought the runtime down to a more manageable number, which would have helped the movie substantially. Unfortunately, we have to wade through scenes after scene of Abbott and Dean talking or Sara wandering around fully clothed, looking for something to mate with. Also, don’t get me started on the sub-par CGI at work in this movie. There are several instances of video game quality work at play here. I will give the people behind the scenes credit in that they tried to keep the CGI to the bare minimum, save for some set pieces, but the CGI we do get is godawful.
I’ve had time to digest Species III and even with that time, I still can’t recommend the movie, which is strange, as there is a wonderful amount of nudity in the flick, which usually means high ratings right there, but after the last movie, which also had wonderful nudity, but also an actual story that worked and they know how to not give us a movie that was almost two hours long, you can easily see how Species III just ends up failing to impress.
Species: The Awakening
Here’s an idea, let’s take everything that was great about the Species movie, the nudity, the gore, the action, the alien craziness, and completely cut it out. If you thought that was a good idea, then you’re going to love Species: The Awakening, the neutered Species sequel.
Species: The Awakening is a standalone sequel – shot for the Syfy channel no less – which doesn’t reference the past movies and does its own thing. The story goes a little something like this. Uncle Tom is a scientist who is raising a super hot niece by the way of Miranda Hollander (Helena Mattsson), who happens to be an alien hybrid. (Random sidenote: why would he pretend to be her uncle? He knows she is going to grow up super fast and turn into a hot Swedish babe. Pretend to be her completely unrelated live-in nanny or something.) He has been suppressing her alien genes by injecting her with human hormones, but suddenly they don’t seem to be working and the alien inside her is coming out. To fix this rather annoying problem, Uncle Tom takes Miranda to Mexico to get help from his former scientist buddy, Forbes (Dominic Keating). Their plan is to use human stem cells to inject into Miranda to cure her problem. However, things don’t go as planned and Miranda turns into a horny, sexy Swedish bombshell of an alien. Don’t get your hopes up, as the nudity is nearly nonexistent in regards to Miranda (You do get to see the tatas of a female alien hybrid who runs around in a nun’s outfit. Why a nun’s outfit you ask? Why not.) As for Miranda, she does bare her assets for a tiny, tiny bit, but they are but fleeting moments in a sea of mundane story threads involving Uncle Tom’s turmoil, his guilt and Forbes’ uncanny ability to create hot alien hybrids, but yet fails to see they are killing machines.
Species: The Awakening is yet another DTV, that feels hollow inside. It’s missing the fun of the original films. The underlying sexy themes are nowhere to be seen, replaced with unnecessary scenes of aliens fighting each other, which is really just stunt people awkwardly stumbling around and stabbing each other with weird blades that spout out of their arms.
There are only two things about Species: The Awakening that I liked. One, of course, was Helena Mattsson, who I could stare at all day and the other was this haunting little ditty that plays during a weird nudity-less sex scene. Everything else about the movie just feels like a poor cash in to keep the Species name going, which obviously failed, as we haven’t seen another one since.
They might not be the best movies around, but that doesn’t stop Scream Factory from trying to put out a worthy Blu-ray package. The biggest surprise with the release was the choice to throw each movie on separate discs, which was probably due to the fact that Species III IS TOO DAMN LONG!
What can be said about the audio and video for the two movies? The films are definitely clean looking, but too clean if you ask me as they were shot on digital video. The video has no apparent issues, although I did find Species: The Awakening to be a rather dark movie, almost too dark in spots. This very well could be a fault of the budget constraints and not the Blu-ray itself. The audio has no issues coming from me, as they give you two options to choose from: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA. I went with the 5.1 options for both movies and I was pleased with the rear channel use in each movie. Dialogue is nice and clear.
Special features are a mixed bag. Species III gives you all the features of the original DVD release, which consisted of an audio commentary with the director, the writer, and actor Robin Dunne, who played Dean, and five featurettes (Shot in SD) discussing the movie’s development. Nothing new is provided. Species: The Awakening oddly enough is the one that provides brand new features, giving us interviews with the director and Helena Mattsson, who is looking even yummier now. The features are not going to be information overload for most people, but what is provided is welcome. I did find it amusing that Director Nick Lyon basically begs the viewer to give Species: The Awakening a break, as it’s the only sequel to be shot on such a low budget, dropping down from Species III’s $16 million to a measly $3.8 million. Okay, I’ll forgive you a little bit, but I am not forgiving the lack of substantial nudity. That was criminal if you ask me.
Audio Commentary With Director Brad Turner, Writer Ben Ripley And Actor Robin Dunne
Alien Odyssey: Evolution Featurette
Alien Odyssey: Species DNA – Production Design Featurette
Alien Odyssey: Alien Technology Featurette
Alien Odyssey: Intelligent Lifeforms – Creature Design Featurette
Species III: Genesis Featurette
Trailer SPECIES: THE AWAKENING
NEW Alien Awakenings – An Interview With Director Nick Lyon
NEW Miranda’s Memories – Interview With Actress Helena Mattsson
As you can probably already surmise, I didn’t really enjoy these lifeless sequels. Species III outstays it’s welcome but does have some lovely nudity, and Species: The Awakening is pretty much a failure all around, with a pointless story and wasted potential with drop dead gorgeous Helena Mattsson (have you figured out yet that I have a thing for Helena Mattsson?). The Double Feature Blu-ray package is certainly going to impress the fans of the movie, but that’s the only people it’s going to impress, which I guess in the end, is the point all along.