Species II stiffed at the box office and this killed its momen­tum as a poten­tial the­atri­cal fran­chise. However, both Species films must have done well on home video because Species III emerged in 2004 as a direct-to-video release from MGM. As usu­al when a fran­chise goes in this direc­tion, there was a dras­tic reduc­tion in both bud­get and star­pow­er.   However, the results are also weird­ly ambi­tious and epic, even if they aren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly good.

Spec3-01Species III picks up right where the last film left off, with the dying body of Eve (Natasha Henstridge) being cart­ed away. However, she pro­duces a child before giv­ing out and that child is stolen away by Frankenstein-esque sci­en­tist Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper). In a mat­ter of days, she grows into Sara (Sunny Mabrey), who is as dead­ly as her moth­er. Abbot uses her alien DNA to fuel his work and enlists the help of dis­en­fran­chised grad stu­dent Dean (Robin Dunne). Unfortunately for them, here are also oth­er alien DNA clones out to mate with or kill Sara — and she is becom­ing dan­ger­ous­ly self-aware.

In terms of qual­i­ty, Species III is about what you would expect from a late-in-the-game sequel made for home video: Brad Turner’s direc­tion is com­pe­tent but reflects his episod­ic t.v. roots instead of cre­at­ing some­thing that feels like a movie, famil­iar con­cepts are repeat­ed but in a less impres­sive way befit­ting the low bud­get and the cast is pop­u­lat­ed by bland, lesser-known actors. The script by future Source Code writer Ben Ripley is plagued by plot holes and has a “make it up as you go along” feel Spec3-02as it ful­fills its stu­dio-man­dat­ed com­mer­cial oblig­a­tions.

However, Species III also has a few sur­pris­es. It’s sur­pris­ing­ly length — at near­ly two hours, it’s the longest film in the series — though unfor­tu­nate­ly that is due to some labo­ri­ous pac­ing and dull stretch­es of plot. Ripley’s script also yields the occa­sion­al unique idea, like the sur­pris­ing mal­a­dy that afflicts the alien clones with pur­er DNA and the way one of the alien clones head­hunts for some­one to solve her prob­lems. There’s also an odd, jokey coda that befits the often loopy plot of this film.

Thus, Species III is best left to the diehard fans of this series. They’ll get the occa­sion­al eye­brow-rais­ing moment but oth­ers are like­ly to find it a slog to get through.Spec34-blu

Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory has released Species III as part of a dou­ble blu-ray pack with Species: The Awakening, the fourth film in the series. The trans­fer does a good job with the ear­ly dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy and the 5.1 stereo mix is given a good loss­less ren­der­ing that takes advan­tage of its busy mix.

It terms of extras, this car­ries over the extras from the film’s DVD incar­na­tion. There is a com­men­tary track with Turner, Ripley and Dunne that offers a good on-the-ground account of the film’s pro­duc­tion, with plen­ti­ful anec­dotes.

There are also a quin­tet of EPK-style fea­turettes that cov­er speci­fic top­ics: an overview of the pro­duc­tion, the pro­duc­tion design, the dig­i­tal FX, the changes to the crea­ture design for this film and a kind of gen­er­al-pur­pose pro­mo piece. The pro­duc­tion piece is inter­est­ing as the peo­ple involved are frank about their cost-ori­ent­ed alter­ations to the series to make it work for home video.