Let’s face it, the only reason why “Species” was remotely a financial success was because of Natasha Henstridge. The newcomer not only radiates on-screen but her searing sexuality and ability to look incredible no matter what position or what kind of gelatinous goo she’s covered in outweighs any quality of the film. Sure, the fans can attempt to argue the film’s merits by claiming my own reasoning faulty, but let’s cut the crap here. “Species” was a hit because it offered up two key elements. It had a gorgeous woman was a decent actress, and had an iconic moment of 1995 where the predatory Sil proceeds to bust the backs of heads off of a few unlucky guys who don’t meet her standard for mating.
Natasha Henstridge is a gorgeous woman and one who kept the audiences attention on her from the get go. Especially mine. I was barely in to her upon the release of the film (I was twelve, give me a break!), watching her now really reminds me why she had something of a career however minimal during the late nineties, and why “Species” continues to be fondly remembered by nineties kids to this day. It’s not because of Michael Madsen, and no it’s not because of Marg Helgenberger, it’s because of Henstridge. It’s too bad she never garnered much success after this debut. “Species” wants to be that science fiction film about the alien in a foreign land who looks like us and has to adapt regardless.
She has to adapt to social situations and learn basic human quirks or else she can not lure men in to her nest. When she does lure men in to her nest, she can barely turn them on because she lacks the etiquette approaching normal human interaction. It wants to say something about the animal adapting to her surroundings and the dating circuit that becomes a hunting ground for her mating urges, but deep down it’s just a simple monster movie with an intellectual gloss covered over it. It’s merely just a group of bland characters with little to no back story recruited to find an alien that has broken loose from her prison and is out seeking men to mate with.
The premise for Roger Donaldson’s science fiction is actually very clever and one that would have warranted a wonderful bit of genre fare instead of this glorified Adriane Lyn lemon. The SETI program for the US Government has been attempting to communicate with aliens, and in order to further familiarize them with the planet, they sent them data on the Earth. In exchange the aliens sent us a formula for an unlimited source of fuel that can eliminate the need for the fossil fuel, and with that grand discovery came one caveat: they also sent them a DNA sample to their species. In order to refine their species and examine them, they combined the DNA with a human fetus and–in hopes of a more docile being–created a specifically female specimen.
Of course with the rapid maturity of the female, she eventually seeks freedom and busts out of her facility after a failed execution attempt and blossoms from the cute Michelle Williams in to a sexy and carnivorous Natasha Henstridge who plays Sil. The entirety of the film is merely a game of cat and mouse and a horribly tedious one as the cast of seasoned character performers all stumble around barely delivering complex characters, while conflict among them is slim to nil. “Species” follows Sil for a long time indulging in pointless nude scenes and adding little to her character, all for a finale that ends on a question mark that is still cheap and obligatory to this day. While Natasha Henstridge continues to be a gorgeous busty and vivacious woman on-screen, “Species” is a lackluster and awfully dunderheaded mess that takes a clever premise and turns it in to soft core porn with a clunky ending. I’m both annoyed and yet not surprised at its success in the mid-nineties.