ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Species (1995)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Roger Donaldson

Starring:
Michael Madsen/Preston
Ben Kingsley/Xavier
Alfred Molina/Arden
Forest Whitaker/Dan
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A half human/half alien horny broad (Henstridge) is on the loose and it's up to a group of “specialists” to catch her before she copulates. Safe sex is definitely not a part of her vocabulary!
THE LOWDOWN
This film's novel premise (aliens communicating with us by sending us DNA code of their species) could have taken it into “serious” sci-fi territory but, willingly or not, it winds up taking the B-movie route. I personally would have liked a more intellectual approach to this subject matter but the "sex and blood" method worked for me too. Some stuff that worked includes the setup of the film which grabbed me from the get-go (it’s very touching), the characters, which are mostly amusing (props to all!), Henstridge who is a delight to look at (what a body!), the action sequences, which are decent, the Giger creature designs, which are dead-on (loved the train dream sequence) and the occasional groovy effects, which kept things alive.

But the movie does have its share of no-nos also. First off, the sympathy that Williams injected into the Sil character is lost when Henstridge takes over. It would have been interesting for the Sil character to question herself more, try to understand who she is and what exactly was going on. But the film is not interested in that. The flick also has the occasional corny lines (“this is where the battle will be fought”), takes the empath character (Whitaker) to the point of uselessness (“she got out of the car and walked that way”) and has its share of dumb "boo" scares (since when do squirrels attack people?). The movie also doesn’t always fully take advantage of the situations that it tosses our way. More human/creature confrontations would have been nice, instead of the oft-used “close calls”.

But my biggest complaint about the flick has to be its last plot point in which the Madsen character becomes Sil’s sexual fantasy. That direction gives way to a very cheesy “fantasy” dream sequence involving Preston/Sil and launches the movie into “Melrose Place” territory (Sil wearing Laura’s perfume, Sil listening in jealously as Preston and Laura have sex…). I thought I was watching a sci-fi/Horror flick, what’s with all the sexual shenanigans? The flick eventually hops back into sci-fi mode with an ok “Alien”-like final, average CGI effects that don’t give Giger’s designs full justice and a dumb arse last frame that sets the film up for a sequel ("Species 2" didn’t even go with it).

But even with all of its flaws, I still liked "Species". You can’t really go wrong with a naked Natasha Henstridge trying to mate and maim people. The slick look, the frequent effects, the funny one-liners (Madsen is all about those here) and the fast pace helped to make this bad girl a fun, easy watch. It doesn’t fully capitalize on its neat premise, but it's fun nonetheless. Let's mate!
GORE
We get some effective gross-out scenes. The scenes in the train with Sil “changing” are quite effective. We also get a ripped spine, a tongue bursting through some dude's head, a cut off thumb and lots of tentacles.
ACTING
Michael Madsen’s (Preston) deadpan delivery, smug smile and kool one-liners make him a treat to watch. Ben Kingsley (Xavier) does okay but plays that a-hole card way too many times. Not sure if it’s the script’s fault or the actor’s. His character became very unlikeable. Alfred Molina (Arden) is great and I wish he had more to do here than feel horny. Forest Whitaker (Dan) works as the all feeling empath but he does have to fight the occasional bad line now and then. Marg Helgenberger (Laura) didn’t always convince me with her reactions to the events but then she’d flash her beautiful smile and I’d forgive her. Her chemistry with Madsen is so on! Natasha Henstridge (Sil) looks great naked and handles the little acting she has to do well. A pre-“Dawson Creek” Michelle Williams (Young Sil) hits all the right notes and made me feel a lot of sympathy for her character. Henstridge doesn’t come close to communicating as much as the adult Sil. The cast in this film is very varied and very amusing to watch.
T & A
This flick is all about T&A and more importantly Natasha Henstridge T&A! The gal looks great in every form of undress. Now that’s a real woman! The ladies get a quick glimpse at Michael Madsen’s butt crack and a couple of pumped up losers with nice bodies but ugly mugs. I know, I know...the world is an unfair place.
DIRECTING
Donaldson gives the movie a slick look with tilted angles, lots of close-ups and some very gnarly flashes of Sil’s alien dreams. But his handle on suspense is a tad off and I rarely felt any tension.
SOUNDTRACK
The score by Christopher Young (he did the one in "Hellraiser 2") captures the sense of awe in respect to each situation. It supports the flick wonderfully.
BOTTOM LINE
This is not “Alien” for the 90’s. I liked the idea of the film better than its execution. What we got here is a B-movie with a star-filled cast and good production values that would love to be something else. I mean they got Giger to design the creature! Mr. Alien himself! A horror classic? Not a chance. An above average pleasant little sci-fi movie? Definitely.
BULL'S EYE
H.R. Giger is the man behind the creature designs in ALIEN.

MGM didn’t want to put up the cash for the “nightmare train” scene so H.R. Giger slapped $100,000 of his own money their way and the scenes were shot (kool sequence). Dare I say: H.R. Giger = one class act?

Anyone else notice that Xavier (Kingsley) looks a lot like Xavier the leader of the "X-Men"? Shaved head, same name…coincidence?
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