- For three million years, the human race has been at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Nothing lasts forever.
- Men cannot resist her. Mankind may not survive her.
- Two decades ago scientists sent a message to space... This... is the reply.
- Our time is up.
- Be Intrigued. Be Seduced. Be Warned.
The creature at the center of "Species" is a result of one of those overreaching scientific experiments gone wrong. In a quiet Government lab in Utah, Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) has combined human DNA with alien DNA that was beamed down from a supposedly friendly planet. The new life form, named Sil, has a supermodel's body and face, presumably from her human genes. The deadly tentacle that whips out from her mouth and tears people's throats apart comes from the extraterrestrial side of the family. As Fitch and a team of experts track Sil through Los Angeles, this science-fiction thriller is slick and competent, but ultimately too predictable and by-the-numbers.
It begins with promising strangeness, leaping into the middle of a scene that is only gradually explained. A 12-year-old blond girl is being gassed inside a chamber; Fitch is shedding a tear, though he understands that his prized creature must be destroyed, fast. (Some bad REM sleep has suggested violent times ahead.) But before the girl goes under, she crashes through the glass chamber and escapes. En route to Los Angeles, she kills a vagrant and a train conductor. She also mutates; her skin begins to bubble, she is enveloped in a huge sticky cocoon, and she steps off the train in L.A. as a grown woman (Natasha Henstridge) who somehow knows how to drive.
Meanwhile, Fitch is explaining his problem to a neatly balanced team of movie types. Michael Madsen plays Press Lennox, a strong, silent guy sent by a shadowy Government agency to eliminate Sil. Marg Helgenberger, as a biologist named Laura Baker, develops a crush on him. And Alfred Molina, as a wimpy Harvard anthropologist, has a crush on her. Forest Whitaker's character describes himself as an empath, a man so sensitive that he can intuit people's feelings simply by looking at photographs of them. The empath has enough to do keeping track of the romantic triangle in front of him, much less sharing the pain of a half-alien on the run. [source: Caryn James, New York Times]