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SPECIES: THE AWAKENING
2007
Written by Ben Ripley and directed by Nick Lyon
94 Minutes
Unrated

Species: The Awakening, or "Species - The Awakening" as the abnormally annoyingly hyphenated box title (seriously, the hyphen ruins the design) would have you believe, has a couple dubious distinctions. First, it's the fourth in a series of films that probably should've ended at the pitch of the first one. Second, it's the first in the series to break continuity, which is actually pretty impressive when you consider how quickly other horror franchises do so. And third, since it breaks continuity, it's the first in the series to be missing the one element that made them watchable: Natasha Henstridge. Say what you will about her, but I think she's a good actress in dire need of a better agent.

When my buddy and I sat down to watch this movie, expectations were low. Riding off the back of the two-hour-but-seemed-like-four Species III, we entered with two assumptions: that it would be bad, and that it would contain gratuitous violence and nudity. I am disappointed to report that Species: The Awakening contained neither. Worse, the threadbare plots of its predecessors at least had some kind of rudimentary logic to them, a kind of logic that has completely escaped this sequel. Certainly our writer, who was at least able to churn out something for Sci-Fi Channel movie of the week Species III, must have realized his script for part four was completely balls.

I've seen a lot of movies that I felt like logic forgot. Ghost Ship is a movie where even the most elemental logic is utterly dismissed. 28 Weeks Later is another excellent example of a movie that's lost its fucking mind. And I have to be honest with you: usually, I can take it. I can allow for massive leaps of logic, gaping plot holes, etc. if a movie is at least marginally entertaining or just so God damned off the rails that it has to be admired for its audacity, with Resident Evil: Extinction being a great example of this.

Species: The Awakening is just random. Plot threads are randomly created and then abandoned. The film happily contradicts itself. I think a really good example is the one that more or less broke my friend Jon. Before I get into it, I want to point out that Jon is a bad movie stalwart. Before he and I started watching these regularly more than a half decade ago, he was raised on shitty Disney movies and direct-to-TV schlock. The man has fortitude. So when in this film, our resident alien is depicted as being able to "absorb" the contents of a book just by holding it and later to learn the keycode to a door just by touching the panel, the gravity of how asinine this is should be properly articulated when I say that the introduction of this characteristic in our lead was the exact moment the film lost him, and probably me as well. We're in science fiction territory right now, even if the Species series exists to satiate the elusive "wanks to alien pr0n" demographic, and there's just no scientific explanation to explain absorbing the contents of a book just by touching it.

Maybe I'm thinking too hard. Maybe I expect human beings to realize that a book is completely different from a key panel, and that tactile contact with either of these doesn't magically make any information jump out, no matter what kind of alien you are. Lt. Commander Data had to at least open the damn book first.

Deprived of a sense of logic in our film, let's go ahead and move to the real reasons we're here: violence and titties. If it's violence you crave, I can think of a couple hundred movies that would serve you better. Simply put, there's nothing exciting or even remotely new or creative to see here that wasn't done before and better in previous entries to the series. Sure it would earn an R, but I watched Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem days before we plugged this bitch in, so maybe I'm a little jaded. And nudity? Would you believe they even fucked this up? The female stars of the Species movies are supposed to get naked and be hot and show some titty, and they've performed these tasks admirably - except here. Here, actual breast nudity is rarefied compared to its predecessors, and the difference is a frustrating one: about halfway into the film onward, whenever our lead is shown topless, she has weird scaly makeup applied to her breasts as though she has multiple aereolae, and I'm pretty sure her actual nipples were covered up. The same thing occurs with the other female lead, the brunette, who has one shadowy topless scene early on and then has the same stupid makeup applied later.

Maybe I'm ranting too much about something so simple, but look...to quote William Hurt from A History of Violence, "how do you fuck that up?!?" All you had to do was deliver bare breasts to at least satisfy part of the quotient that makes a "good" Species movie. But they couldn't even do that properly. They fucked up the plot, the nudity, and the violence. Even as a bad movie, the qualities that were supposed to redeem it...didn't.

And then there's the fact that the DVD proudly touts "Unrated" in the upper right corner, which early in its inception represented "the director's original vision" but in modern day terminology more frequently is meant to mean "this movie has more objectionable content than would be allowed in an R" but actually means "we didn't submit this movie to be rated." The only reason this is an unrated version is because it was never rated. Had it been rated, it probably would've been given an R, and only reluctantly after the review board realized that no matter how much they wanted to, no one would know what to do with a movie rated F, for FAIL.

I have a couple suggestions, though.

- Dustin Sklavos

All written content and colored rating system copyright Dustin Sklavos 2009. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.