Species: The Awakening (2007)
WRITER: Ben Ripley
DIRECTOR: Nick Lyon
STARRING: Ben Cross as Tom
Helena Mattsson as Miranda
Dominic Keating as Forbes
Marlene Favela as Azura
QUICK CUT: The Species series carries on and heads to Mexico when a young woman discovers she's an alien human hybrid and has a higher than usual desire to mate with men.
Miranda - A smart, attractive teacher with a good heart, she discovers that half of that heart and all of her brains come from alien DNA, when she begins to feel sick. Unlike other deadly blondes in the Species series, Miranda seems like a normal girl, raised by human parents and instilled with proper morals. She's Superman, but hotter.
Tom - Miranda's uncle, or so he claims. He's actually the scientist that merged human and alien DNA to create her, and kept her as his own when the project was shut down. He's a good man, who has tried to raise his niece right. Can his training outdo the biological imperatives of the alien strain?
Forbes - Tom's former colleague in the project, and his polar opposite. He'll take corners to get a job done, only cares about himself, and how things can further his own goals. Money, sex, and power are his main drives.
Azura - One of Forbes' many creations with the alien DNA, his bedroom buddy, and just as much Miranda's opposite as Forbes is to Tom. She's not as smart, she's very much the bad girl, and she has no problem with doing whatever it takes to get what she wants, no matter what humans may be harmed along the way.
THE GUTS: I find it particularly hilarious that the final Species movie opens up on a teacher talking to her class about Prometheus, and I watched this the same weekend where I watched the "Alien" prequel, Prometheus. Giger movies, everywhere! I could not have timed that better if I tried.
But yes, this is the final Species movie, at long last. And this one completely ignores the finale of #3, which may be for the best. Although if they keep ending movies with aliens out there waiting to breed, we've got trouble. Fortunately, it's not a wholly unrelated sequel, and there are slight ties to the franchise.
At the start of the movie, our third blonde femme fatale only has to worry about job offers from Oxford University, and not taking them so she can stay close to her only family. Oh, she is going to long for these problems.
Miranda heads off on a date for now though, and is quickly found the next morning by a runner just out for a casual jog. He finds her completely starkers, and I bet that got his heart racing more than the run.
She's rushed to the hospital and her uncle Tom is called in. While Miranda has flashbacks of her date going awry in the middle of a kiss, the doctors look at her distinctly non-human skull in the x-rays. Well, they'll report this find and start investigating a new spec...oh, no. Never mind. They think it's just a prank.
They retake the x-rays, and she has a total freakout on the table. Veins popping, arched back, freaky-deaky eyes... I knew x-rays were bad for you, I just knew it.
And that's when the Species-ification of poor Miranda happens. And the poor x-ray guy, who gets tongued in the chest by the alien girl. It's not long before someone else turns up to ask about the x-rays, and also gets tongued by Miranda. This time through the back of the head and out the eye.
Uncle Tom arrives and finds a few more dead bodies we didn't get the pleasure of witnessing getting murdered, and further down the hall, Barnabas Collins II finds his niece, reverted back to human form, and still quite naked. This is a recurring problem in the Species franchise.
He packs Miranda up in the car, hurries home, and throws crap in some suitcases. They hurry off, and before Miranda can wonder why she didn't get to put any clothes on yet, she instead asks where they're going. Tom is taking them to Mexico to escape the authorities, and Miranda puts things together pretty quick.
The other reason they're off to Mexico is to meet up with an old colleague of Tom's, named Forbes. He may have the answers to what is wrong with Miranda, and why she's so stabby lately. Mr. and Mrs. Tom? It's an alien hybrid death machine!
While they've parked out at Exposition Point, Tom gets out of the car to make good use of the opportunity. He tells Miranda how he and Forbes made her in a lab, and never quite knew how to tell her. Pssst, on the run from the cops might not be that time. Yeah, that's a bigger bombshell than being adopted. Also, they at least nod to the other movies by using the DNA strands from space, which is at least a good passing glance at continuity.
This is a legitamitely good scene. Ben Cross is a pretty fine actor, one I've called a modern day Christopher Lee (Although that can be taken in good and bad ways, and I mean them both too), and he sells the story of this man who cared for this girl he created as if she was his daughter very well. And having our new blonde girl shed a tear over these revelations, that her whole life was a lie, *literally* humanises the character. Miranda is one of the most fully realised of the aliens in these movies. She's had an entire human, normal life up to this point, and it has all been taken away from her. You can see the anger, and the pain this has caused her, but still the love for her Uncle Tom.
But enough mushy stuff! Mexico, hoooo!
On the way to Forbes, we learn that Tom has been injecting Sil the 3rd with human hormones to try and keep the alien side at bay, and that was working fine. Somewhere along the road though, she became sick and has since been responding less and less to the treatments. Tom is at a loss, and taking her to the xenogynecologist to get her checked out.
The drive continues, and the movie actually answers a nagging plot point I'd always had. The aliens' ability to learn. They don't need to read or study, they just absorb knowledge by holding something, learning all they can by... You know, okay. That doesn't make a lick of sense, but at least they're trying to fill in a plot hole. I give them credit for that.
At long last the movie reaches its destination way down Mexico way, and Tom leaves a sick Miranda in a hotel room while he tries to find Forbes. Along the way, he runs into the creepiest nun ever.
After the Bene Gesserit, splits her tongue at Tom and he runs like a scared Catholic schoolgirl, the nun gives chase across the city, in a most...interesting way.
Poor Ben Cross is chased all over the city, running hither and yon, until the alienun grabs his ankle with her own prehensile tongue. She tries to pull him off the roof he was trying to escape across, and only relents when the police arrive, and she goes away. After that close encounter, Tom runs into a guy from the hotel that knows the way to find Forbes.
A method that is...not straightforward, to say the least. I've seen spies meeting up go through less convoluted instructions. Forbes is either ragingly paranoid, or a superst...Oh, he was on Star Trek: Enterprise. He's just hiding from the fans!
Part of this crazy sequence involves a cab, which takes Tom to some warehouse, and the cabbie tries to kill him. Which would be bad enough as some random shakedown or mugging, but the cabbie is apparently an alien.
Tom manages to escape though, his luck holding out. He gets back to the guy's cab, pins the alien with it, and then sets him on fire. Immolation is always Trisk approved.
Not happy with how that meeting turned out, Tom heads back to the hotel and confronts the Texan. Unsurprisingly, he has a gun and stops Tom from attacking him. Unfortunately, the guy brought a pistol to an alien fight, when Miranda shows up.
Fisk teases her for being Tom's new bodyguard, but his teasing doesn't last long when her eyes go pale blue and she starts growling like a tiger. Just to drive her point home, she starts beating him around the room until he gives them the real location of Forbes.
They find Forbes in what looks like an abandoned warehouse at first, but Silanda can hear someone somewhere. Fortunately her newly discovered powers of psychometry come in handy to get through the electronic combination lock. Inside, they see Forbes lab. Or maybe Forbes' secret sex den. Possibly both.
So, Forbes gets to meet his creation, Miranda. Or as he knew her, G178. And Tom gets to meet the woman Forbes was banging, Azura. Or as he knew her, the flying nun. No one here is exactly what they appear.
Forbes compliments his old friend on a job well done, impressed at how far his creation has come. Meanwhile, the two alien women stare at each other, but before a catfight can break out, Miranda has another episode and collapses to the ground.
We learn that Forbes is doing some weird cloning shit, and while he feels good about giving people back a dead relative or pet, Tom does kina point out the downside that they're, oh, half alien. Which Forbes counters by saying he's worked out most of the kinks, and the alien side almost never comes out.
Most of. Almost. These words do not inspire confidence in mad science. But it's okay, they die off in a month or two! Yeah, because we've never seen the aliens fix that wee flaw before either.
So we learn at last what is wrong with Miranda...old age! Dun dun dunnnn! Well, mortality, she's just got no life left in her. Not a great alien species there if 25 is your expiration date.
Tom tells Miranda about her limited time left, and she decides she wants to go home, to tell the police what happened. Well, at least we've created a monster with morals.
As they're hanging out in a church discussing this, Forbes shows up and tells everyone that oops! She doesn't have to die after all! The only catch is, someone else will have to die in her stead, to get what's necessary for the process. Unsurprisingly, Miranda is actually against this. But her creators are less hesitant about it. There's a 'who is the real monster?' message here, isn't there?
Before they can leave though, Miranda has another attack, and with her at death's door, there is a risk that the alien side will take over and rampage. Forbes gets her tied down and sedated for the time being.
Forbes sends Tom out to get a 'human graft' donor, a female, and alive. Tom has a moment of hesitation, knowing what it means, and not expecting he would have to do it himself. But if he wants to save his ersatz daughter, this is the cost.
Tom wanders around and finds a woman that takes interest in him. Before he can do anything though, she pulls a gun on Tom and tries to rob him. Oops.
Fortunately for Tom, Azura shows up and smacks the girl so hard she passes out. Good thing she isn't your typical Species creature that would have just killed her outright.
And then, cue the technobabble to save Miranda. Something about impregnating the victim, stem cells, and a familiar Species style coccoon. It's all very technical and real, I'm sure.
Miranda then gets spat out of the coccoon, giving us the required Species nakedness. I was wondering where they'd hidden that. So far, the movie has been pretty clean. Well, aside from all the snot over Miranda.
As a recovery gift, they give Miranda a copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which has me rolling my eyes at the in-jokey-ness of it all, what with the oh so cleverly appropriate content. But then Miranda points that out, does not find it funny, and tosses the book aside. Good girl.
They continue to test her cognitive functions, and she seems okay, at least until she declares that she wants to have her way with Azura. Uhh. I guess they got the libido part from Sil, but I think her targeting is off.
On top of all that, Helena Mattsson does a good turn here. She was mostly reserved as Miranda. Not that outgoing, definitely more the book smart attractive girl type. But now that she's been fixed, she's been flipped on her head, and following in Sil's and Eve's heel-steps. Which can't be good. It could have just been wanting to enjoy a second chance at life, but it is far more than that, you can tell she is fundamentally different now.
While Forbes hands off an alien clone dog to a client, Tom realises Miranda has gone off to who knows where. He's determined to go after her, and Forbes tries to get him to arm up. After everything they've gone through though, Tom refuses to kill her, ot even take hydrochloric acid to slow her down. Yes, just slow her down.
And this brings us right back to the old Species problem. Forbes reveals that she's all creature drives now, looking to breed and fuck the city out of existence. Tom says he took care of that ages ago when he made her sterile, but with the stem cells, who knows what she could be now?
Miranda heads back to the hotel, where she propositions the front desk for some room service. She reveals that she knew he was a creature like her all along, and again the movie delves back into the Species mythology with the alien sex flashes. Gotta love consistency. And then he's suddenly killed, and for a moment, I think there's a twist to the formula, with her trying to kill the aliens and save humanity, but no. She just black widowed him after sex. Sigh.
Tom tries desperately to find his creation, heading to the church where they talked about going home, and before he can ask the priest anything, Azura arrives to end the conversation.
He foolishly confronts Azura, who tosses him around the church like he's a sack of potatoes. Tom continues to be the luckiest bastard ever, and manages to release the precariously perched heavy cross right down on her and crushing her head.
Across town, Miranda continues to stalk around, and threatens a singer for her dress. She'd rather cut a girl before giving it up, but once Miranda flashes a little forked tongue, the dress is off faster than at prom. There has to be an easier way to go shopping.
It takes all of five seconds for some Latin lothario in the club to fixate on the hot blonde, and try and grab her. She flirts with him just long enough to stab her tongue through his brain.
Forbes arrives and follows the screaming people, and then the flash of blonde hair ducking down an alley. She seduces the scientist, and disarms him of the acid in his pocket before he can even come close to using it on her.
The partial alien prosthetics on Miranda's face and body leave...something to be desired. Some are okay, but they just look cheap. And fake. Rather than giving her a partially alien face, instead it looks like Miranda has the scariest eyebrows this side of Charles Xavier.
Cue the alien sex scene, complete with flashes, and transformation into a hideous monster. And yet, I somehow imagine Forbes is enjoying this. Hell, he was doing Azura, this must be almost normal for him. Aside from his little death at the end.
Since this is a horror movie, it turns out Azura is Not Really Dead, and pulls herself back together, getting the cross off her. Meanwhile, Tom finds his dead colleague and his pregnant daughter. Every parent's nightmare.
He rushes them back to the lab to try and figure out...something. I don't know if he's qualified to do an alien abortion.
Tom checks on the thing growing inside her, and, as laughably terrible as the effect is, it terrifies the scientist. What he sees is an already mostly developed creature inside of Miranda.
Miranda is pretty much resigned to dying, rather than go on like this, but before anything can be done, Azura shows up and cuts the power. This time, Tom does indeed arm up, since he has zero familial connection with the flying nun.
Tom gets drooled on from above, and continues his lucky streak by dodging out of the way of a tongue lashing from Azura. Seriously, this dude is a walking cat person.
It doesn't take Azura long to disarm the doctor though. Before she can kill him, Miranda gets off her bed and launches a spike right into the back of her rival's head. And still this doesn't kill her. Cue the catfight we were promised upon their first meeting.
Miranda projectile vomits more spikes at Azura, but they don't even slow her down, as they get ripped right out. At least we didn't get a tedious Matrix style ducking of the spikes. That would have been the last straw.
The pair trade blows for awhile, and this COULD have been a fun, creative fight. And it's okay, but so much of it is in the dark, or with strobey flashes, it's hard to watch, and harder to get into. Oh well. Eventually, Miranda thinks she has the upper hand, and turns her back, only to be stabbed through it by Azura.
All this has allowed Tom the time to get his hands on the shotgun again, blast Azura with it, and send her careening through a pit in the floor, down several stories. I think she's actually dead this time. Tom at least has the foresight to double check, although the last resurrection took awhile. Still, the effort is appreciated in these sorts of situations.
Tom finishes things off with some handy dandy oxygen tanks, a gas stove, and a Bunsen burner, walking away from the resulting exploding warehouse like he's the hero in a Bruce Willis movie. Yeah, sorry, no. You didn't earn that.
And so ends the Species franchise, in a giant ball of fire. And I approve of that, at least.
Video: A new movie, only a few years old, and the video fares very well indeed. The worst part of it is the directing choices drenching some scenes in darkness, making the action tough to follow.
Audio: The Species movies have always sounded decent, and this one is no different. A good mix, filling the area.
Sound Bite: "We're going to Mexico. It's beautiful down there." So beautiful, you don't even have time to get dressed or wash the blood off you!
First Blood: Nine minutes in, and the x-ray tech gets a tongue lashing from Miranda.
Body Count: The movie gives us a whopping total of 13 deaths, which is an appropriate enough number for our first full on body count!
1- X-Ray tech tongued by Miranda
2 - Doctor #2, tongued through the eye by Miranda.
3 - Doctor #3
4 - Doctor #4
5 - Doctor #5, killed off screen with #s 3 and 4 by Miranda.
6 - Tom kills an alien cabbie gets killed with fire.
7 - Alien hotel clerk, tongued through the head by Miranda.
8 - Azura stabs a priest with an alien appendage.
9 - Azura crushed by a cross thanks to Tom.
10 - Latino in the club getting a brainectomy by Miranda.
11 - Forbes gets tongued after sex with Miranda.
12 - Azura once more, shot and dropped a few stories onto debris.
13 - Miranda dies from wounds received at Azura's hands.
And for good measure, Azura and Miranda are set on fire by Tom.
Best Corpse: My favourite death has to be the guy in the club. The tongue through the head gag is classic Species, and done well enough there. And he deserved it.
Blood Type - B-: The blood is good, although they've gone more CG blood this time out, which is a shame. The creature effects are always decent enough in Species movies, although they have gone steadily downhill as budgets decrease. But still, a better than average quality.
Sex Appeal: Well hey, it's a Species movie. You know what you're in for here, although most of it doesn't come until the second half of the movie.
Movie Review: Okay, get ready for this. I genuinely like this movie. I have liked each and every Species movie more than the last, and #4 just works for me. It's cheap, and more personal, and like #3, that really works. Miranda is a real character, the most human of all the Species girls, and thus the most likable, the one you can most get behind. Rather than just watching a hot girl doing bad things, that is more or less a cipher in a big action horror movie, you have real people you care about, and root for them. But at the same time, you can tell this was not a big movie, and it would have loved a little more money, and could have used a little more revisioning. But there's no major annoyances, no gigantic plot holes I can't deal with. The science could have been finessed a bit more, but other than that... The two stars of this movie really sell their characters, and Miranda's plight is almost too human for an alien hybrid movie, but somehow, something here works. If you only watch one Species movie in your lifetime, make it Species: The Awakening. Four out of five cloned poodles.
Entertainment Value: Fortunately, the rest of the cast is almost laughable. Forbes does a passable job, but he comes off as a little cheesy as this skeevy mad scientist that's almost a little too over the top for the movie this wants to be. And his whole operation is just more of the same. And Azura is bad. Every line she utters just makes me wince. The kills are good, the effects aren't half bad...this movie really is better than a direct to DVD third sequel should be. It's entertaining in the right ways, although doesn't have quite as much cheesy wincy moments as I'd like, but it has the bonus feature of actually being a bearable movie. Three out of five blonde alien hybrids.