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Species 2, written by Chris Brancato, directed by Peter Medak, 1998, 90 min.

Thirty-two short reviews about Species 2.

Apocalyptic: The end of civilization is at hand. Playing the analogous role to lead water-piping in the decline of the Roman Empire, Species 2 will sap brain power and drive people to insanity all across this fair country. Perhaps some will welcome this cataclysm, but could even Brunner in his masterpiece The Sheep Look Up have predicted from whence ruin would proceed?

What-if: In a mildly amusing game of science-fictional speculation (a game which, even in its most diluted form, may have added interest to Species 2), imagine putting H. R. Giger and Sigmund Freud in a locked room together. Or better yet, hook them up to a virtual reality simulation, and let their respective subconscious drives battle it out.

Ludicrously optimistic: You should think a movie, by virtue of a connected series of events, would be able to build interesting characters. Or, characters. You should think, also, perhaps, that a movie containing both rampaging aliens and clever humans would build suspense over the course of ninety minutes.

Post-structural over-analysis: How do I know that a low-budget sequel to a monster movie is not, by its very nature, inherently a dim bulb in the galaxy of lights? I know by the existence of Tremors 2: Aftershocks, a masterpiece of plotting, character, humour, and wit, which built on the logic of its predecessor as opposed to destroying it, and only cost four million. Its script shows up both the lumbering behemoths like Waterworld or Titanic and low-budget terrors like Species 2. No genre has structural limitations on it (except for horror, in my opinion), and the only thing that provides the grounds for a good movie is what it has always been, the script. This has been a serious review.

Post-Cronenberg shock-tactics: Cronenberg shows an exploding head in Scanners. Exploding heads are now passe, so how to get some shock value out of an exploding head? Show it in reverse! And how to end your movie? Well, you can always show a cat, a kid, and a pregnant woman (the cat made no sense whatsoever, I didn't know how the kid got into the ambulance, and Eve being pregnant at the end was simply silly -- and less of a surprise considering it was the same type of ending as Species).

Post-logical: Unless the alien DNA found on Mars is different than the DNA beamed in from space in Species (and by all visual clues, it was not), the female astronaut should not have died after becoming pregnant. Plot reasons seemed to demand that the showdown was between a male and a female alien. Also, the activity of alien/human blood was wildly inconsistent -- for example, it should have been able to remove itself from clothing considering all the other things it did. Species 2 begs the question of mass-creation even more so than the first movie. I was again serious when I wrote this review.

Aural: Why did this whole movie seem to be badly dubbed? And with all the corresponding problems in credible dialogue?

Visual: Was there something wrong with the print in my theatre? Or did Medak really film this in such a grainy, ugly colour scheme?

Socialist: I commend strongly the condemnation of money politics and capitalism as found in the portrayal of a recklessly ambitious Senator (as played by James Cromwell) -- I nominate Medak as the next Capra. I also approve of the condemnation of media tie-ins as found in the scene with the box of "Space Flakes." This has not been a serious review.

Audience-response criticism: I avoided the other people. I didn't look at them, so I don't know if they were not looking at me. I walked out of the theatre as quickly as possible.

Freudian: This is where I get scared (see Apocalyptic). I don't think I need to be astonished about the horror genre, and its attitude towards women (see Feminist), because that's nothing new (nor is horror's invasion of science fiction). The main character kills his father, and luckily his mother is long dead, otherwise Brancato and Medak would have gone way too far, I know it.

Post-editorial feedback: Yes, sir, I think these are valid reviews. No, I could not bring myself to treat Species 2 with any deeper critical modality than disdain.

Feminist: Species 2 is a horror movie certainly, especially if you are a feminist. Species was at least a mildly interesting rumination on the topic of reproduction (relatively speaking, of course, relative to the movie at hand), with the caricature of the female reproductive system run amuck and male fears of that very thing (wait, maybe it wasn't satire...). Species 2 gets rid of the female astronaut early on, for no logical reason, and then sets off the male astronaut on a lethal series of rapes. This makes it a "sexy thriller"? The end of civilization is at... no, wait, this is only old news in a patriarchal society. The various sick penetration fantasies in Species 2 are the real horror, as is the link between sex and violence. That this is then passed off as entertainment shouldn't be surprising, only the cause for further efforts to enlighten the society that produces/consumes it in a vicious cycle.

Filmographist: Brancato has now written two movies, his first being Hoodlum (a movie which I cannot comment on because, based on dire word of mouth from my friends, I avoided it). Notice that Hoodlum is not science fiction. Medak has been directing movies for thirty years now, his latest two being Pontiac Moon and Romeo is Bleeding. Nowhere in his filmography did I notice any other science fiction movies. But anybody can write or direct science fiction, right? It's not as if you need any special vision or genius to slap together another 12 Monkeys or Blade Runner.

Special-effects: I actually didn't mind the relative scarcity of special effects. Considering that most of them were used in going for the gross-out, I didn't mind at all.

Post-enumeratory-correctness: This movie doesn't deserve thirty-two reviews.


Last modified: April 13, 1998

Copyright © 1998 by James Schellenberg (james@jschellenberg.com)


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