Species III cast: Robin Dunne, Robert Knepper, Amelia Cooke, Christopher Neame, and Sunny Mabrey director: Brad Turner 112 minutes (unrated) 2004 widescreen ratio 2.35:1 MGM DVD Region 1 retail RATING: 2/10 reviewed by Steve Anderson

Here we go again. Species, that semi-watchable movie that spawned a line of steadily less-watchable sequels along with its voracious alien-breeder chick, is back once again. Less, of course, Natasha Henstridge – whose career, although scarcely stellar, isn’t so far down the line for her movies to go direct-to-video without a second thought. And sadly, also less a reason to watch this aside from all the frequent appearances of our new female lead, Sunny Mabrey’s accessories. That’s right, it’s one of those movies. One of those that recognises its own failings to the point that the only way to keep the attention of its audience is to have our young and terribly attractive female lead drop her top at any given opportunity.

So what we have here is the story of a pretty stupid move. The first five minutes or so are dedicated to recapping the first two movies, and also serve to illustrate the idiocy we’re about to see. Indeed, Species III is suffering from Santayana’s great curse – ‘Those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ Just like the Child’s Play franchise, everyone believes they can fire up the Play Pals line and absolutely nobody’s going to have a Chucky problem like dear little Andy Barclay!

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No, of course not! That’s all done and over with!

We can fire up the assembly line – uh, I mean DNA sequencers – and rebuild Chucky – no, wait, Eve this time – and absolutely nothing will go wrong! Criminy, you’ve all already caught on by now. There’s no way this is going to go smoothly. And frankly, it isn’t going smoothly. Between an incomprehensible jump between a pocket-sized fusion reactor, a little girl who learns at a geometric rate, a prima donna professor, and assorted other nastiness, we’ve got one incredibly confused plotline here.

Perhaps the best summation of the horribly confused plotline comes with just 21 minutes left to go. Our hero character says: “I can’t be sure.” Neither can we, boyo, and we’re your audience. He continues: “My best guess is that they need someone with scientific knowledge to help them bioengineer a new strain of species… cause the current one’s about to go extinct. And if they can’t get my help, they’ll get my horny roommate to do it.” Yes, yes, I know… now stop screaming already. I know it sounds like a bizarre melding of Alien and National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. I know it watches even worse. But wait a while… chances are we’ll get to see Sunny Mabrey go topless again and that will make the hurting stop. Well, okay… maybe not stop so much as go from endless misery to mere nagging discomfort.

I’ve got to say, the DVD menu does give me a little shot of cool. Over the course of the repeating loop sequence over the option select, check out our newest Natasha Henstridge Plan-B chick, Sunny Mabrey. Plan B was, of course, ‘if she gets too big and/or old to do this kind of thing anymore, bring in a hot young no-name to replace her.’ Indeed, Sunny Mabrey is hot, and unknown, and just enough of an actress to keep the whole movie from sliding off the screen into obscurity. Although after this one, she’s pretty much locked into roles that involve her showing her boobs to anyone willing to pay attention.

But sadly, the special effects don’t keep up. For instance – check out the effect at 38 minutes and 31 seconds. Frame advance it real slow, and you’ll see our current designated victim has the exact same facial expression before, during, and after the strike. It took me a lot of internal debate over whether it was a dummy or CG, but whatever it was, it was noticeable. And worse yet, try keeping a running count on how many men die mid-coitus with our dear flash-happy Ms Mabrey. The ending features a clever twist; or rather it would be clever if anyone cared enough to still pay attention at this point.

The DVD special features include subtitles in your choice of English, French, or Spanish, along with director and cast commentary, a behind the scenes photo gallery, and a series of behind the scenes featurettes describing a whole bunch of things that no one wanted to hear about a movie no one really wanted to watch.