The F*ckin Black Sheep: Species II (1998)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Species II (1998)
Directed by Peter Medak

“SPECIES II remains enjoyable B trash with a lot of hot nude women and some pretty good special effects.”

Let’s make a wager. Any time a production lists Michael Madsen as the star, the first name on the credits, that movie won’t be top quality. That’s no knock against Madsen. I’ve always dug his work, and he’s good at being Mr. Madsen, basically a slightly altered version of Mr. Blonde. I hate to type cast a guy, but that’s who he’ll always be.

So when it came time for producers to make the inevitable sequel to 1995’s SPECIES (because it made money…$60 million in the States), the main star leftover was Michael Madsen. Of course, SPECIES had a good director in Richard Donaldson and a damn solid cast with Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams, the beautiful Natasha Henstridge, and CSI’s Marg Helgenberger. Back for part two…well, not any of the previous Oscar winners but still a decent cast with the always great (and tall) James Cromwell, the equally great Peter Boyle, and Forrest Gump’s BFF Mykelti Williamson.

If SPECIES got anything right it was the fact that producers knew that if they wanted their sci-fi flick to get attention, they needed lots of nudity and gore. They smartly hired Henstridge as an alien who really, really enjoys getting naked and banging lots of dudes – the ultimate black widow, chewing up men with her sexuality and straight hotness.

For the first sequel, Henstridge returns – this time genetically recreated as Eve. She remains just as hot, but this time playing mostly a secondary character, sitting around in a secure lab room in loose and sexy outfits. Instead, SPECIES II revolves around a successful return mission from Mars (yes, Mars), where handsome astronaut Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) gets infected with alien DNA that makes him the worst sexual partner ever. Once back, he’s knocks up lots of women who immediately give birth in bloody and violent ways to full grown little boys. Who can stop him? Well, enter fake name sounding Madsen’s Preston Lennox, who reluctantly comes back to save the world once again. Joining him: Helgenberger as scientist / Eve’s caretaker and Williamson (who was great on JUSTIFIED) as an astronaut with a lot of not so witty lines.

Why is it worth watching? Directed by Peter Medak (who has directed everything from ROMEO IS BLEEDING to THE CHANGELING to BREAKING BAD to HANNIBAL to THE WIRE), SPECIES II remains enjoyable B trash with a lot of hot nude women and some pretty good special effects especially considering it’s nearly 20 years old. Madsen delivers all sorts of terrible dialogue like “Hang on to your shorts” or “Welcome to the Maternity Ward…from hell!” Even worse, when Williamson’s character Dennis Gamble grabs a machete and says he’s going “back to Africa on they ass.” He’s an astronaut remember.

But somehow all that equals an entertaining movie. We don’t get enough Henstridge, but we do get plenty of other women and lots of surprisingly good gore. What’s more interesting comes from some decent acting. Lazard plays the infected Ross with some depth, Helgenberger gives the passion, and Cromwell brought his professionalism.

Madsen…well, he plays Michael Madsen, a government mercenary who holds his gun sideways. Why not.





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