Tag Archives: Natasha Henstridge

Ghosts of Mars (2001) 2.81/5 (3)

 

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Rating: The Good – 74.3
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 98 mins
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Pam Grier

This John Carpenter sci-fi/horror/western about a police officer (Natasha Henstridge) and a dangerous prisoner (Ice Cube) trying to escape a terraformed Martian town as it becomes overrun by spirit-like aliens is a tongue-in-cheek heavy metal opera. Just like said music, everything about this movie screams mock-rebellion. Women run the show, aliens are ghosts, their language is a ferocious scream, the good guys are criminals and like that music, if you’re not a fan of Carpenter you just won’t get it. Thus, Ghosts of Mars has the semblance of rebellion but it’s not really that dangerous and Carpenter has a ball with it. The more technical aspects to the film such as the visual effects, make-up, and fight choreography are tinted with this light hearted sarcasm. Once you accept all this, however, you can really start to enjoy it. The patient start uses a series of dissolve-cuts to tell the back story as quickly as possible without feeling rushed but as the action moves through the gears, Carpenter’s utterly superb heavy metal soundtrack kicks in and sweeps you forward until the end. As with many of Carpenter’s films, the Rio Bravo theme is present and there’s plenty of innovative and over the top violence on show to keep most horror fans happy. There’s a great supporting cast on hand too (e.g., Pam Grier, Jason Statham, Joanna Cassidy) to deliver some outstanding and cheesy lines alike. And on top of all that, we have that wonderfully thunderous opening inspired in part by the opening to Bad Day at Black Rock (confirmed to this author by the director himself). Don’t approach this on the basis of what some of the critics have said and certainly don’t approach this as you would a typical science fiction/horror movie. This is John Carpenter – a director who has spent his career subverting conventions in the most entertaining ways possible (even if what he’s subverting is subversion!). That’s why he’s so damned important to the medium.

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Species (1995) 3/5 (2)

 

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Rating: The Ugly – 65.3
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Duration: 108 mins
Director: Roger Donaldson
Stars: Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Michael Madsen, a HR Giger designed alien, and Roger Donaldson directing. Okay, Species should’ve been better but its great fun nonetheless. A government program is set in motion when SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) receives an alien message with instructions on how to create both a clean burning fuel and an alien-human hybrid, instructions which they (naturally!) follow to the letter. When that hybrid escapes and begins gruesomely killing people in search of a mate, the program leader (Kinglsey) assembles a team consisting of a wet-work specialist (Madsen), an anthropologist (Alfred Molina), a biologist (Marg Helgenberger), and err.. a psychic (Whitaker) to hunt it down and kill it. Although the writing isn’t brilliant, the cast is undeniably great and despite some clunky dialogue it’s still great fun watching them coast nonchalantly through the movie. Natasha Henstridge has been much maligned for her sci-fi performances but like Ghosts of Mars, she actually handles it quite well and is an interesting and worthy lead. The special effects are in the main really impressive and while there are some similarities between the alien in this movie and Giger’s most famous creation, it’s sufficiently different and expertly crafted to warrant individual praise. The action sequences are standard enough which is disappointing given that Donaldson has been responsible for some great set pieces in the past (e.g., No Way Out). However, as a package, Species is very easy to watch and extremely enjoyable in a very guilty pleasure sort of way.

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