*. As the title splashes cheaply across the screen we realize we’re in another world. I don’t mean in terms of the plot (that is, we’re not starting off on Mars here, as we did in Species II), but with regard to the quality of the filmmaking. After Species II tanked at the box office it’s clear that the producers were no longer willing to spend any money on this franchise. So while the first two movies had budgets of around $35 million each and theatrical releases, this one was done for far less (director Brad Turner says “probably an eighth” of what the others had to work with) and premiered on the Sci Fi channel.
*. How many good, or even just watchable, original movies have there been on Syfy (as it’s now called)? Dog Soldiers back in 2002 was OK. Leprechaun Returns was, in my lonely opinion, the best of the Leprechaun films. Aside from that I’ve got nothing. When the Sharknado franchise is your main claim to fame you know where you rank. Still, at least they’re making movies. That’s something.
*. I hope Natasha Henstridge, who showed up for one day of filming, got paid for her cameo at the beginning here, where she gives birth to Sara (the next generation of Species creature). This film is a direct sequel to Species II, picking up in the ambulance where that film left off and even throwing in a montage of clips with some exposition in voiceover from the earlier movies. Though I have to think that if you’d seen those movies you wouldn’t need this refresher, and that if you hadn’t seen them you wouldn’t be likely to be here.
*. While the first two movies were far from classics they did have a kind of quirky charm in their different ways. Species III isn’t nearly as much fun. It feels awkwardly put together (the character of the half-breed Amelia, for example, is introduced far too late) and it wasn’t long before I’d lost all interest in what was going on.
*. Some of the practical effects are OK to watch. The Sil creature is slightly redesigned and made into something simpler. There’s a younger cast to bring the franchise more in line with what was always its natural demographic.
*. I keep coming back, however, to that clunkiness I mentioned. The way obvious plot points keep having to be vocalized. (Example: the scene where Dr. Abbot gives Sara her name from off of a Sara Lee cake box. “You don’t have a name,” he says. Then, looking at the box, “Sara. Yes, Sara.”) The clichés like the chess game by the fireplace for our two attractive young leads to get to know one another a little better. The items that are introduced that we know are just being highlighted for us because they’re going to be used later. This is all clunky as hell.
*. Not a total write-off, at least if you’re not expecting much from the third entry in a series that was never that great to begin with. But really you’d have to be a completist to want to bother.