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), 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!
Sequels are gonna happen, it's a fact of movies. If a flick hits at the box office, you can guarantee a sequel is on the way. Even if the film is a dud and there's no discernable reason for further sequels to exist; it's a fair bet that one is in the pipeline - although it may not appear in theaters. Because of the direct-to-video market, the lack of box office returns just means the budget for the next installment might shrink a tad and its release platform may alter, but audiences are going to get a sequel one way or another! While 'Road House 2' might be one of the most egregious examples of this, the 'Species' franchise was also continued unnecessarily with 'Species III' and 'Species: The Awakening.' Even a bad direct to video sequel can still offer some slight amount of entertainment value, but as the later two 'Species' sequels get going with their respective outings, they show that this creative well had long gone dry.
After Eve bravely gave her life to kill the hybrid Patrick and end his breeding habits and help save humanity, she inadvertently got pregnant in the process! With one of Patrick's spawn and Eve's apparently body in the back of a military ambulance, Scientist Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper) is intent on continuing the study of this alien hybrid species. When Patrick's child kills Eve (Natasha Henstridge in a cameo role) as she's giving birth, Dr. Abbot takes the child to raise up as one of his own. The child grows into the beautiful Sara (Sunny Mabrey). As Dr. Abbot moonlights as a college professor, he uses his grant money to research how to keep Sara's alien DNA dormant preserving her better human side.
As Dr. Abbot is aided by the young brilliant student scientist Dean (Robbin Dunne) who needs more funding for his state-of-the-art fusion reactor project. As Dean aids Dr. Abbot in his research, it becomes apparent that more of Patrick's children managed to survive and are now fully grown. These fully grown alien hybrids carry numerous allergies and are susceptible to common diseases. If the alien hybrids are going to survive, they're going to need Sara's human/alien eggs in order to purify their species.
In a nutshell, 'Species III' is "Species Goes To College." Playing as more of a knockoff 'Re-Animator' the film makes little to no sense. Between the alien hybrid children trying to find a cure for their various conditions to Dr. Abbot trying to cure Sara of her alien DNA to Dean and his super fusion reactor, 'Species III' is a plot stew. This movie feels like there were way too many sequel scripts in development and so the creative heads in charge of this opus decided it was a good idea to just put them all in a blender, press frappe and then film the results. Very little of it makes sense, character motivations are a complete mystery, and the time frame of the film is difficult to understand. Is it two days after the events of 'Species II,' two weeks, or two years? To top it off, there isn't the gory fun that was to be had with 'Species II.' While this one certainly maintains the nudity quotient, the creature work - what little there is - is largely hidden in shadows. There is one decent gore effect where an alien hybrid dissolves and explodes because of his allergic reactions, but that one moment hardly makes this one worth watching beyond a casual interest.
Species: The Awakening:
Professor Miranda Hollander (Helena Mattsson) is a brilliant and beautiful in every respect. She's popular with students as well as academic institutes; unwilling to even take a job at Oxford! As her uncle Tom (Ben Cross) is all too delighted to hear his niece won't be leaving him, he lets down his guard a little and allows her to go out for a fun time out. But when Miranda is found unconscious and naked in the middle of a street, she's taken to the hospital where her latent alien DNA awakens! As it turns out Miranda was an alien hybrid created by the government years and years ago and Tom was one of the scientists on the project. When orders were given to destroy all test subjects, Tom took pity on the small girl and saved her. For years, she's grown up believing she was normal. Now that her alien DNA has awoken, Tom takes Miranda south into Mexico to find one of his former colleagues for help. When they get there, they learn that more alien/human hybrids exist and Miranda's awakening sex drive may be the match that lights a powder keg.
Sometimes when so many sequels happen within a franchise a point is reached where the material bears no resemblance to the films that got the ball rolling. 'Species: The Awakening' is that movie. It's not only broken away from the previous films' formula - aside from some a little T&A and some brief creature moments - it is incredibly difficult to call this film a 'Species' movie at all. This is a movie that is dependent on cheap sets, lame pseudo-science dialogue about sequencing DNA on late 1990s computers and splicing stem cells, it just feels like the writers for this movie just used a bunch of "it" buzz words of the day and slopped them into their script without any understanding of what anything meant. But there I go, criticizing a bad direct to video sequel for not being intelligent enough. The film does feature some fine performances and as a direct to video sequel, this movie is probably par for the course, but not by much.
To be fully honest, the 'Species' movies were never very good. While 'Species' and 'Species II' had their own marks in their favor making them fun guilty pleasures to enjoy when nothing else was on, 'Species III' and 'Species: The Awakening' prove that the concept was pretty thin and could only stretch just so far. While far from being a good movie, 'Species III' does have some fun qualities to it making it an enjoyable watch so long as you know what you're getting yourself into ahead of time. 'Species The Awakening' on the other hand is a strong showcase for how a franchise can run itself into a wall, there's just nowhere else for this particular beast to go. It's still kinda fun, but there's not a lot going on to care about here. Barring the off chance of a remake, I would say 'Species' is extinct after this last film.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Species III / Species: The Awakening' arrive on Blu-ray in a two-disc set courtesy of Scream Factory and is housed in a standard two-disc Blu-ray case. 'Species III' arrives packed onto a Region A locked BD50 disc and opens directly to an animated main menu with standard navigation options. 'Species: The Awakening' is pressed onto a Region A locked BD50 disc and opens directly to an animated main menu with standard navigation options.
Since this film was intended for the direct to DVD market, the 1.78:1 1080p transfer for this film is pretty strong but shows its limitations. Since this was shot digitally, the image is nicely detailed film-like image quality. Much of the film is brightly lit allowing primaries to pop and favors warmer golden tones. Black levels are strong, not quite deep inky black but there doesn't appear to be any contrast issues or problems with crush. There is some depth to the image, but it's largely a very flat looking image. This is especially true when there are any CGI backdrop shots, they're poorly rendered and stick out like a sore thumb. Otherwise, this is a fine looking image and of the few creature effects shots in the film, they show up really well. The dissolving guy is a treat in HD. All around this is an improvement over DVD but is limited to its original digital source photography.
Species: The Awakening
For this 1.78:1 1080p transfer, HD only shows off how cheap the production was. Save for a few sequences early on, most of the film exudes a hyper-colorized appearance that skews the color scheme to bright neon greens and teal blues and oranges at random. There doesn't seem to be any motivation to do this beyond trying to make the movie look cool. As a result of this color grading, details are apparent but the image can look incredibly noisy in places. While it's easy to see and appreciate fine facial features and textures, so much of the film is shot so darkly that a lot of the film becomes difficult to see. To that effect, black levels are a bit difficult to judge because again, so much of the film is so dark that it is difficult to judge whether this is a transfer issue that crush has taken over a scene or if it was shot that way to begin with. I keep thinking of the 'AVP: Requiem' Blu-ray release when I try to assess this portion of the image grade. There are some sequences that show fantastic depth, but there is a number of sequences where it can be difficult to make out what is happening. All around this is an improvement over the DVD, it's not pretty but it's an improvement.
Both 'Species III' and 'Species: The Awakening' were given pretty decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio upgrades. Both audio tracks feature strong dialogue presence that kept to the front/center channels leaving the sides open for sound effects and music. Of the two, the 'Species III' audio mix is the stronger effort as the film has a lot more going on in any given scene providing the film with a little richer atmosphere to enjoy. 'Species: The Awakening' is a lot more conversational and aside from a couple of brief moments, the movie largely takes place in a laboratory so the surround elements are mostly filled in by the score when and where needed. Imaging is decent overall, some nice channel movement, but nothing to really blow your hair back in terms of directionality and presence. Both tracks do their respective jobs. They're serviceable, not spectacular.
Species III 3.5/5
Species: The Awakening 3.5/5
Audio Commentary: Director Brad Turner, writer Ben Ripley, and actor Robin Dunne provide a commentary for this track. They offer up a lot of details about the movie, the process of making it, shooting, the release. It's a pretty decent track. Funny bit of note, the case artwork lists Robin Dunne as "Actress."
Alien Odyssey: Evolution: (SD 13:33) This is a pretty decent, EPK style extra feature that covers the shift in casting and location to tailor to a younger cast.
Alien Odyssey: Species DNA: (SD 6:18) This extra feature covers the production design work for the film.
Alien Odyssey: Alien Technology: (SD 5:37) This feature covers the mix between digital and CGI effects work used throughout the film.
Alien Odyssey: Intelligent Lifeforms: (HD 9:54) This is a look at how the film moved away from the original Giger designs of the creature and still appear familiar to the previous films.
Species III Genesis: (SD 8:50) This is your basic EPK extra feature that is cobbled together with material from some of the other extra features.
Trailer: (HD 2:03)
Species: The Awakening
Miranda's Memories: (HD 9:50) Actress Helena Mattsson talks about what drew her to the project and what it was like shooting on location in Mexico City as well as what got her interested in acting.
Alien Awakenings: (HD 15:38) Director Nick Lyon talks about shooting the movie, having to do creature effects on a budget as well as how he got into filmmaking.
When 'Species II' failed to generate the same box office returns as the first film, the idea of more 'Species' sequels seemed like a far off idea, but thanks to the strong DVD market during the early 2000s, we have 'Species III' and 'Species: The Awakening.' While I wouldn't call either film terrible, they're not as good as their predecessors and the budget constraints of both sequels is apparent. Scream Factory has brought both films to Blu-ray with this two-disc set featuring solid video and audio presentations as well as a bunch of extra features to keep you busy. Where 'Species II' can be appreciated and recommended as a guilty pleasure, these sequels aren't nearly as much fun. This set is for the fans.