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despite its exceedingly well-done visual effects , 1995's original species was one big hunk of sci-fi cheese , from the writing to the feeble performances .
so , coming from such b-grade roots , its sequel's stunning ineptitude is not terribly surprising , yet at the same time it is .
it would not have been difficult at all for the people behind species ii to top the hokey original , yet they have somehow managed to fabricate something just as bad , if not even worse .
something is clearly amiss when the back door left open for a sequel in species--a sewer rat becomes not quite of this earth after eating a body part from the exploded alien/human hybrid sil--is never entered into ( perhaps that was left for species iii--though i'm not giving away anything when i say that this installment has an open back door of its own ) .
the alien fun and games begin this time when a three-person astronaut crew returning from mars inadvertently carries within their soil samples deadly alien dna that eventually infects the mission captain , patrick ross ( justin lazard , late of cbs's short-lived soap of a few years back , central park west/cpw ) .
this alien dna is not identical to that which created the original film's sil , but it's close enough , and upon arrival on earth patrick is mating like crazy , engaging in bloody sex with just about every woman he can find .
meanwhile , scientist dr . laura baker ( the returning marg helgenberger ) has created a clone of sil named eve ( natasha henstridge again ) for research purposes .
it doesn't take long for eve to sense another alien presence , which send her libido into hyperdrive .
it's up to laura and her former partner , bounty hunter press lennox ( michael madsen , another returnee ) ; and patrick's uninfected shipmate dennis gamble ( mykelti williamson ) to find patrick before the in-heat eve does .
" this isn't the x-files , goddammit ! "
exclaims one character in the early going .
in terms of quality , he's absolutely right , but he's also wrong .
the new alien first appears as an otherworldly oozing sludge that causes patrick's pupils to dilate once he's infected .
looks and sounds an awful lot like the x-files's " black cancer " to me .
but that's not the only source director peter medak and writer chris brancato steal from .
species was already a ripoff of alien , but medak makes the cribbing much more blatant than the original's director , roger donaldson , did .
human patrick is given a tongue that also has a tongue within itself , and his alien form more closely resembles the alien than eve's alien body ( which ironically was designed by alien designer h . r . giger ) .
a large alien hive that our heros douse with a substance fired from large guns ?
aliens sans flamethrowers .
the visual effects were by far the best thing about species , and the sequel's effects crew at steve johnson's xfx inc . keeps that high-quality tradition alive ; no cheap-looking lost in space cgi here .
after the effects , the original's best asset was the fresh presence of henstridge .
however , medak and brancato have no idea what exactly to do with her for this installment .
at one point she's called on to play alien " empath " ? la forest whitaker in the original , but for most of the duration she's holed up in a glass cell .
by the time the big breakout so prominently featured in the trailer actually takes place , the film is well into its home stretch .
so the rest of the time we are treated to patrick , played with little zest by lazard .
one problem with the first film was that the deadly , horny , but innocent-at-heart sil was too sympathetic ; no such problem with patrick , who comes off as a cocky pretty boy before the alien takes control .
the rest of the cast also fails to add much , but the writing can be faulted for that .
helgenberger and madsen go through the motions , but they are already hampered by the clich ? d development that somewhere between the two films , the once-linked laura and press stopped getting along .
williamson suffers the worst indignity .
he tries his best to enliven the token african-american role , but how can anyone recite insulting , derivative lines such as " i'm gonna get african on someone's ass " and not appear ridiculous ?
but species ii's worst crime is being a thoroughly uninteresting piece of work .
at least the original featured plenty to laugh at--unaccountably awful performances by the otherwise fine actors ben kingsley and whitaker , and the sight of helgenberger's character performing fellatio on madsen's , for a start .
but the filmmakers do not display any discernable effort at all , let alone the misguided effort that is required for something to reach the camp level .
for all the blood and gore , nudity , and sex thrown in , species ii is , quite simply , a vapid bore .