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Species II Review

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★★★★

If you were one of the many who contributed to Species' $100 million gross, you will know what made it so engaging: half-human, half-alien foxtress escapes from lab with intent to mate. As Sil, Natasha Henstridge made her name and the illicit pleasure of admiring her physique while knowing that it was going to sprout H.R. Giger-designed tenticles at any moment was the film's trump card.

In the sequel, Henstridge is Eve, Sil's laboratory-bred offspring, caged and curated by Dr. Baker (Helgenberger) from the first film. When astrohunk (Justin Lazard) comes back from Mars riddled with alien DNA and starts shagging his way round the female population, Eve is used to entrap him before he "fucks the human race into extinction". There are many similarities between Species I and II (Madsen also reprises his role), but on almost every count, this is an inferior effort.

The acting is toe-curling, be it Lazard's sub-Stephen Baldwin performance (he's supposed to be irresistible to the ladies!) or the should-know-better hamming of Dzundza and Peter Boyle as the mad scientist. The effects - mostly CGI - are a joke, yet the one aspect of the film not(ital) played for post-modern laffs. Worst of all, its misogyny is out of control: Lazard rapes an innocent woman in a supermarket and it's played like Confessions Of A Driving Instructor and Henstridge is now little more than Baywatch fodder, running in slo-mo without a bra for the lads, and dressed exclusively in short, clingy dresses - de rigueur for lab rats, you know.

In Species, Sil, though decoratively employed, was a fearful, predatory superwoman. Here, she's soppy, lovesick and subservient (she's even a terrible driver). Though Species II is far from serious and aimed squarely at the hairy-palmed, it really didn't need to be quite this rotten.

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