HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Species III/Species: The Awakening
HTS Overall Score:66
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Some series just never die when they really should. The “Alien” knockoff series “Species” is one such series, having spawned two sequels PAST the original sequel that was already stretching things just a bit. Years and years ago that was a hard prospect, but thanks to the huge prosperity of the direct to DVD market films and their sequels have been made that honestly would have been passed over by major studio. Especially when the second film in the series already was having a hard time turning a real profit. “Species III” and “Species: The Awakening” both are stretched thinner than a piece of bubble gum coming off of an already paper thin sequel, and they only get worse with age. There’s some fun to be had, but mostly if you’re a completionist or just love C-grade schlocky science fiction/horror and can’t get enough alien encounters.
Species III :2.5stars:
“Species III” picks up literally minutes after “Species II” leaves off. Eve (Natasha Henstridge) is brutally maimed in her battle with Patrick Ross and is being evacuated by ambulance. However a lone half breed alien spawn of Patrick’s is along for the ride. Although being SLIGHTLY inconsistent with the final moments, a disguised scientist named Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper) hijacks the transport and witness Eve give birth to a child just seconds before the spawn of Patrick Ross strangles her with his tongue. Vanishing into the night with this little purebred from Patrick and Eve’s encounter together, Dr. Abbot tests her in an effort to make his name in science when he perfects a 100% invincible alien creature. Roping in a desperate student named Dean (Robin Dunne) to help him, Abbot amps up his experiments on the rapidly developing girl. Naming her Sara (Sunny Mabrey) after a Sara Lee cake, the crazed scientist is on the verge of making his breakthrough when one of the hybrid’s from Patrick Ross attacks Sara, killing him in the process.
Now Dean is the only one left to continue on with the experiment, but he’s now morally conflicted. Sara is a force of nature and he’s reticent to creating more monsters with her DNA, especially since she’s so much more powerful than the last two incarnations, mainly due to her increased alien DNA. While Sara’s mating instincts are on full throttle, she isn’t attracted to humans like Eve, Sil and Patrick were. Due to her genetic purity her mating instincts only kick in when she’s around someone with hybrid DNA in them at the very least. However the hybrids are dying due to having more human DNA than Alien (human diseases kill them) and her pool of possible candidates is drying up. Combine the fact that the U.S. government is on to that fact that another monster is out there AND some of the hybrids have a few plans of their own make for a violent confrontation that can only leave one species on top.
“Species III” is really proof that the “Species” Franchise has jumped the shark by now. There’s some fun to be hand with the movie, but too much of it is jammed up with the romantic entanglements between Dean and Sara. They tried way too hard to humanize Sara to the point where you truly feel more sympathy for her than you did for Eve even, but the sappy love triangle between her and a human she has no chance with really bogs it down in parts. While most of the series has been about 90 minutes in length, “Species III” is bloated to a few minutes shy of 2 hours with credits and the extra padding really shows. Sara does a good job as a robotic MOSTLY alien being that just wants to feel like she belongs, and Knepper hams it up like normally does, but the rest of the DTV cast is entirely forgettable.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66841[/img]Species: The Awakening :2stars:
“Species: The Awakening” is the true axe in the back of the head for the series. “Species III” was no jewel in the franchise’s crown, but this 4th entry just proves that there is NOTHING left to rehash in the already worn out set of movies. Instead of tying into the other three, “Awakening” takes a detour into left field with another experiment gone wrong. Assuming that this is the same experiment, we have Dr. Thomas Hollander (Ben Cross), a small town scientist who is taking care of his extremely brilliant daughter Miranda (Helena Mattson). The thing is, Miranda is NOT your average girl. Even being brilliant, she’s so much more. After a date gone badly, Miranda ends up in the hospital where she transforms into one of the Alien’s primal forms, killing everyone around her before she collapses.
Waking up in the care of her “father”, Miranda pulls the truth out of him. She’s a genetic replication of the alien DNA and human DNA much like how Sil and Eve were created. The difference is that Dr. Hollander had taken her away from the project years and years ago, suppressing her alien DNA with human hormones in an effort to keep her as “normal” as possible. Unfortunately this path is no longer feasible as her relapse has proven. The only way that he can see out of this mess is going down to Mexico and meeting up with his old partner in crime, Forbes (played by Dominic Keating, best known for playing Malcolm on “Star Trek Enterprise”), who just might be able to cure her. Well, that is unless anything else goes wrong (which we know it will).
“Species: The Awakening” is what is known as the franchise killer. At this point it’s blatantly obvious that there is really nowhere else to go in the series. We’ve run out of ideas to make work, no matter how thin, and instead are left with rehashing generic alien ideas and throwing them in a blender until something seems to stick. Miranda is basically another Eve, created from the same time period, but just sheltered the whole time and her mating instincts suppressed. However now that she’s out all of the normal clichés and “Alien” knockoff tropes are back in play once more. Complete with tongues stabbing people to death, weird alien make out scenes where it flickers from their human form to their alien form and then back again, as well as borrowing a little form “Species III” too in regards to wanting to mate with a hybrid.
Rated R for violence/gore, sexual content and some language / Not Rated by the MPAA
Species III :3.5stars:
“Species III” looks actually pretty good for a film that was destined to go straight to disc with a bare minimum of a budget. Effects look pretty good and the colors pop off the screen with warm primaries due to the copious amounts of brightly lit scenes. Darkness shows a little bit of digital noise, but not overtly so. Blacks are a murky at times, and other times show great detail. Compression artifacts show up a little bit, but mostly limited to a few minor shots of banding that just vanish as quickly as they appear and some macroblocking. Contrast is a bit hot, but still pleasantly balanced enough and fine detail is excellent to good for the majority of the film.
Species: The Awakening :3.5stars:
“The Awakening” was most definitely shot on a shoestring budget and it really shows. The amount of effects is just as bare minimum as one can get without being completely absent except for the hospital scene and the last battle with Azura. Even then, they’re much weaker than the first three films of the series, and the bad CGI looks even worse after a decade. Colors are really strange as the film seemed to favor shifting from a teal filter, to a green one, to an orange and yellow one at whim. For no other reason that I can see besides that it was “cool” to do so. As a result fine detail is just “ok” and black levels suffer greatly.
Both tracks for both films are actually really similar. They’re serviceable tracks, but really nothing to write home about. Dialog is strong and never out of balance, but surrounds are fairly minimalistic. “Species III” seems to have a bit more going on in the background so it’s a bit livelier, but “The Awakening happens to have a bassier track with a little more low end punch. The movie will just rumble for no apparent reason and throb with bass to be “cool” (much like how it did with the color filters). There’s nothing substantially impressive about the DTV tracks, but they do the job asked of them and do it with gusto, even if there really not much going on due to budget constraints.
• Director's Commentary
• Alien Odyssey: Evolution
• Alien Odyssey: Species DNA
• Alien Odyssey: Alien Technology
• Alien Odyssey: Intelligent Lifeforms
• Species III: Genesis
• Theatrical Trailer
Species: The Awakening
• Miranda's Memories
• Alien Awakenings
“Species III” and “Species: The Awakening” aren’t ALL bad, but they’re definitely a step down from the already “decent” levels of the first two films. Both of which had the distinct pleasure of having Natasha Henstridge pull the series up by its bootstraps. With her gone the other leads just don’t have the charisma, and the producers didn’t have the budget, to make things nearly as interesting. The Blu-ray itself is very solid for a pair of straight to DVD releases, thankfully due to Scream Factory putting each film on its own disc instead of putting both on a single Blu-ray. Definitely something for fans of BAAAAAAAD sci-fi or those of you who just have to complete a series.
Starring: Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Sunny Mabrey : Edy Arellano, Marco Bacuzzi, Jan Bouda
Directed by: Brad Turner : Nick Lyon
Written by: Dennis Feldman, Ben Ripley : Dennis Feldman, Ben Ripley
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC / 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Screma Factory
Rated: R: Not Rated
Runtime: 112 minutes : 97 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Buy Species III/Species: The Awakening Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Schlockfest of cheese
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