Species III

Starring: Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper and Sunny Mabrey
Certificate: 18
Available 28 March 2005

The dying human-alien hybrid Eve gives birth to a baby girl. Dr Abbot, a misguided university professor, kidnaps the child from the military and hides her in his private laboratory. He hopes to modify her alien DNA to engineer a creature less dangerous to human beings, and recruits graduate student Dean to assist him. But there are other hybrids out there...

The thing that always bugged me about Species II was that it completely failed to follow up on the "cliffhanger" ending to the first movie, in which the survival of Sil's (Natasha Henstridge) infant offspring suggested that the alien threat was far from over. We never found out what happened to that boy in the first sequel, but Species III suggests an answer...

It turns out that there are now numerous human-alien half-breeds roaming the Earth. These are presumably the offspring of Sil's own child, all of whom, of course, rapidly reach maturity. However, they are all genetically flawed and, sooner or later, are doomed to disintegrate. Cue lots of pus, blood, melting skin and slimy tentacles - which is what we expect from the Species franchise. The half-breeds need an infusion of pure alien DNA, and they sense that they can obtain it from Dr Abbot's researches.

Which brings us to the other element that we have come to expect from this franchise: naked female flesh! The baby that Dr Abbot (Robert Knepper) rescues soon grows to adulthood and, before we know it, Sara (Sunny Mabrey), as she chooses to be known, is getting her kit off at every available opportunity. She even disrobes so that Dean (Robin Dunne) can take a blood sample from her arm, which seems to tad overenthusiastic. Natasha Henstridge makes only a brief appearance at the beginning of the movie, but the young Mabrey proves an adequate successor, though her breasts do look somewhat artificial.

Ben Ripley's script is populated by rather two-dimensional characters: the unhinged scientist, the bad-tempered head of department (Christopher Neame), the shady government agent (Michael Warren), etc. He doesn't even bother to give Abbot's cat a name! Warren gets a great line, though, as he discusses the fact that he doesn't have the budget to provide manpower or weaponry of the kind that were expended during the last two operations - a sly reference to the fact that this straight-to-video venture has only one-eighth of the budget of its cinematic forbears.

In fact, this production looks very slick indeed, thanks to hi-definition video cameras. This and other backstage secrets are revealed in half an hour's worth of featurettes. The DVD also includes a trailer and an audio commentary featuring Ben Ripley, Robin Dunne and director Brad Turner. The commentary isn't particularly revelatory, mostly consisting of Ripley, Dunne and Turner agreeing about how happy they are with the finished product.

Species III is OK. Not fantastic, just OK. But what more do you expect from this series?

Richard McGinlay