Directed by Brad Turner
Produced by David Dwiggins
Written by Ben Ripley
Director of Photograpy Christian Sebaldt
Music by Ella Cmiral
Cast: Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Sunny Mabrey, J.P. Pitoc & Amelia Cooke
2004/112 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the MGM Home Entertainment DVD
Categorizing the origin of movies used to be very simple. Most movies were made for theatrical release, except for TV movies, which were made for TV. When home video arrived, we then got "direct-to-video" movies, but it was still easy to make the distinction. But, recently, things have gotten much more confusing as "direct-to-video" movies are now having their premieres on cable just before they hit video stores. Are they "direct-to-video"? Are they made for TV movies? If the movie in question is SPECIES III, which premiered on Sci-Fi Channel some 10 days before it's DVD debut, the issue isn't where did the movie come from, it's how fast can you get away from it?
SPECIES III begins immediately following the events of SPECIES II (which, even with the flashbacks, I had trouble remembering). The wounded Eve (Natasha Henstridge) is being transported by a military ambulance to an undisclosed location. However, the driver isn't a military man at all. He's actually Dr. Almond (Robert Knepper), a college professor. He hijacks the ambulance, and just as he does so, Eve gives birth to a child, just as an alien/human hybrid, who was also riding in the ambulance, kills her. Almond takes the newborn child and disappears into the night.
Almond takes the child back to his home where he's set up a lab to study this alien species. He's learned that the hybrids are very susceptible to disease and he hopes to create a hybrid who can remain healthy. The baby grows to be a young girl in a matter of hours and is named Sara (After the Sara Lee pie that she's eating. I'm not making that up.) Almond recruits a grad student named Dean (Robin Dunne) to assist him in the research. Soon afterwards, Sara (now played by Sunny Mabrey) grows to maturity. As with the previous females of the species, she wants to mate. However, Dr. Arnold is more concerned with the fact that the hybrids want Sara dead, and the fact that Dean is irresistibly drawn to the alien.
Unlike a lot of critics, I'm not a sequel snob, and if a series has been successful and entertaining, I always welcome another entry. I found SPECIES to be an OK film, but given the hype and talent involved, I was disappointed. SPECIES II was dumb fun, which made up for its lack of story with gore and an alien-vs.-alien face-off. So, going in to SPECIES III, I wasn't expecting much...and I was still very let down. Simply put, this movie is a cheap knock-off of the earlier films. And by cheap, I mean low-budget. And by low-budget, I mean LOW-BUDGET. If you saw this film under any other title (which would most likely be NAKED ALIEN GIRLS), you would assume that it was a New World (or whatever the current equivalent for New World is) quickie. The movie essentially has three sets and only a handful of actors. The special effects aren't very good and the alien suit looks awful. The previous aliens in the SPECIES series had a very sleek look, but this one looks chubby and doesn't move very well. That is, when we get a glimpse of the suit, as it's usually shown from a distance. The film promises an alien cat-fight, but doesn't deliver. There is plenty of female nudity in the film, but even that grows old after a time. Sunny Mabrey has the emotionless alien thing down, but she does it to well and it appears that she got the part only because a piece of lumber wasn't available.
Along with these issues, SPECIES III is really held back by its story. The movie makes no sense whatsoever. We never really understand Arnold's plan or why the hybrids want Sara dead. The plot suddenly changes half-way through the film when another alien begins to hunt Sara. The second scene in the film is such an obvious nod to the film's conclusion that there's no need to wonder how it will end. So, call it what you will, TV movie or direct-to-video, SPECIES III is a waste of time.
SPECIES III lands on DVD courtesy of MGM Home Entertainment. The film is being released to DVD in two separate versions, one R-rated and the other unrated. For the purposes of this review, only the unrated version was screened. As far as I can tell, the unrated version is only 1 minute longer than the R-rated one and that footage consists of more nudity. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot in 24p High Def and looks very good on this DVD. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The picture is a bit dark at times, but the colors look good and there is no overt video noise or artifacting. The disc features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which offers clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround and subwoofer effects are abundant, sounding very nice and adding a little something to the film, which it greatly needs.
For a movie of this sort, the SPECIES III DVD features a surprising number of extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Brad Turner, writer Ben Ripley, and star Robin Dunne. This talk is OK, as they discuss the film and give detailed information about the production, locations, and story. Yet, there's no real spark here, and after a while the chat become quite dull. "Alien Odyssey" is made up of four featurettes. In "Evolution" (13 minutes), director Turner and producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. discuss the decision to make a third SPECIES film and how they wanted to play to a younger audience. This segment also contains some behind-the-scenes footage and an overview of the characters. Production designer Cameron Bernie discusses the look of the film in "Species DNA" (6 minutes). FX co-coordinator Dennis Bernardi gives us an overview of the CGI fx in "Alien Technology" (6 minutes) and talks about how these effects were used to enhance the movie. The interesting comments come in "Intelligent Lifeforms" (10 minutes), which examines the special effects makeup. Here, the filmmakers talk about how they got away from H.R. Giger's original SPECIES designs, not for budgetary reasons, but to put the series in a new direction. We then here about how there was little budget for the effects. The extras are rounded out by a still gallery and the trailer for SPECIES III.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©