Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

DVDs
cover art

Species IV

The Awakening
Director: Nick Lyon
Cast: Helena Mattsson, Ben Cross, Marco Bacuzzi

(MGM; US DVD: 2 Oct 2007)

The Annoying

This preposterous little film, unlikely to be enjoyed by anyone but the utterly devoted to this hobbled series, offers nothing of the escapist pleasure of the original. In fact, it offers very little of anything at all. It’s odd, and probably unforgivable, that a film based on the most pornographic premise ever to come out of Hollywood – a beautiful alien woman is murderously determined to have torrid sex with random men so she can produce offspring – is so thoroughly sexless. 


It’s not that its star (Helena Mattsson) isn’t as gorgeous as one would expect, or that she doesn’t spend an unnecessary amount of time shiny and naked. Rather, it’s that nothing remotely erotic ever happens, even when our alien sex fiend gets her groove on. And since there’s no plot to speak of, what this film is all about is anyone’s guess. 


When the original Species came out, back in 1995, it boasted a few upper-B-list stars (Forrest Whitaker, Ben Kingsley, and the astonishingly hot Natasha Henstridge as the sexpot E.T.) playing with a snappy little script. It was dumb fun, but it was, after all, fun. In the years immediately following the AIDS-ravaged late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the concept of random sex putting men in mortal danger was actually rather effective. Sex was scary back then – casual sex was scarier still.


Species subverted the old archetype of the femme fatale while simultaneously commenting upon a society ravaged by anxiety over a still-misunderstood STD. It was, in its way, interesting, and worthy of attention (even while it was being dumb and fun).


This fourth installment in the series, starring literally no one from the original, and (apart from Geiger’s highly vaginal creature effects) sharing no real commonalities with its predecessor, is simply dumb. The script makes little sense, and all of the character development keeps circling back on itself. People who are supposed to be clever say amazingly ignorant things; characters shift unaccountably from being ingenious in one scene to impossibly stupid in the next.


The most egregious example: Helena Mattsson’s character, demonstrated early on as being an uber-brilliant university professor, suddenly becomes a blithering idiot, quite completely helpless, and prone to lengthy inexplicable silences in situations when anyone with any sense would have been asking the occasional question. (Sample questions: So, I’m a goddamn alien? You made me in a lab? How is it that I never figured this out? Weird that it never occurred to me that my super powers were, you know, super? Etc.)


If someone had the misfortune of actually seeing this film in any condition other than tragically inebriated or profoundly catatonic, it is simply totally unbelievable that he would finish the movie and then rush to his laptop to see what’s been written about it. I mean, why put any extra thought into it? The filmmakers certainly didn’t.

Rating:

Stuart Henderson is a culture critic and historian. He is the author of Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s (University of Toronto Press, 2011). All of this is fun, but he'd rather be camping. Twitter: @henderstu


Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.