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Roger Donaldson
Ben Kingsley, Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger, Alfred Molina
Writing Credits:
Dennis Feldman

Be Intrigued. Be Seduced. Be Warned.

A group of scientists try to track down and trap a killer alien seductress before she successfully mates with a human.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 7/25/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Roger Donaldson, Producer Frank Mancuso Jr., Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Edlund and Creative and Special Makeup Effects Creator Steve Johnson
• Audio Commentary with Director Roger Donaldson and Actors Michael Madsen and Natasha Henstridge
• “Designing a Hybrid” Featurette
• “HR Giger at Work” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Species [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 25, 2016)

What if they reworked 1979’s Alien and substituted a sexy blonde for the title creature? The result might look like 1995’s Species - or at least that’s how I remember the ads that sold Species. In truth, while the two films share some similarities, they differ more often than not.

In response to messages humans sent in years past, aliens communicate with Earth scientists – and they do so in a positive way that implies their friendliness. The first missives convey a method that allows for the easy generation of fuel, and the second tells humans how to make an alien/human hybrid.

That part doesn’t work out so well. A group led by Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) creates a female hybrid who turns out to be dangerously violent. “Sil” (Natasha Henstridge) escapes captivity, so a team attempts to track down and stop her before she causes mayhem.

Watching Species now, I find myself unsure why I recall that it seemed like an Alien rip-off 20 years ago. Perhaps this came from the involvement of HR Giger, the creator of the iconic “Alien” design. Giger worked on the alien creature, and I suspect ads touted his involvement.

Although my synopsis offers a chronological pattern of events, the movie doesn’t play the material that way. Instead, it opens with Sil as an adolescent (future Oscar nominee Michelle Williams) and lets us see attempts to slay her before we know anything about her.

That acts as a clever way to involve us in the story, as the gassing of a young girl for no apparent reason gives the opening spark. I like that Species throws us into the characters and situations before it doles out exposition, as that choice gives the movie more vitality than otherwise might’ve been the case.

Once Sil goes on the prowl and the team stalks her, however, the movie’s pleasures become less obvious. Not that Species flops, as it does manage decent excitement and intrigue on a few occasions.

Nonetheless, I don’t think the movie lives up to its potential. Granted, “killer alien loose on Earth” isn’t the most original concept, but it boasts a lot of room for action and terror, and the use of the beautiful Henstridge as adult Sil contributes some originality.

Too much of the film plods along, and it fails to make Sil an especially interesting creature. Sure, Henstridge looks hot, but she’s not much of an actor, so she fails to convey much menace. When Sil turns from human to creature, the design seems more silly than scary, so those moments don’t amp up the thrills either.

In addition to Kingsley, Species features a strong cast, as we find professionals such as Forest Whitaker, Alfred Molina, Michael Madsen and Marg Helgenberger. None of them make a dent. Kingsley boasts a uniformly awful stab at an American accent, while poor Madsen and Helgenberger find themselves forced into duty as “romantic relief”.

Now those moments seem scarier than any of the purported terror! Madsen and Helgenberger demonstrate zero chemistry, and their attempts to flirt become laughable.

Madsen’s role seems especially odd. Species casts him as a tough guy but it largely neuters him. While his mercenary Preston Lennox shouldn’t be as dark and psychopathic as his Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs, he should seem more menacing than the toothless schlub we find here.

That’s just one of many flaws in the lackluster Species. The movie dallies with too many tone changes, few of which suit it. A better-focused film could’ve been a good monster/action flick, but Species sags.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Species appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. One of the very first Blu-rays to reach the market in 2006, the transfer showed its age.

Though I’ve seen worse, so the image wasn’t a total loss. Still, it left a lot to be desired, especially in terms of print flaws. The movie exhibited quite a few small specks and marks, so it clearly could’ve used a good cleaning.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine, as much of the movie showed reasonable clarity and accuracy. However, edge haloes created distractions and made the flick less precise than I’d like at times. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred. The movie showed artifacts, though, and looked more “digital” than I’d like.

Colors seemed decent. Species went with a blue-oriented palette much of the time, so it didn’t feature a lot of tones. Nonetheless, the elements we got looked solid. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows delivered smooth material. This wasn’t a terrible presentation, but it seemed below average.

On the other hand, the film’s uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack held up fairly well over the last 20 years. The soundscape offered a reasonable amount of involvement, though I didn’t think it used the surrounds as actively as I’d expect. Occasional elements fleshed out the room – vehicles, music at a club, battles – but the track focused on the forward channels more than I would’ve anticipated.

Still, the soundfield managed to open up the material in a generally positive manner, and audio quality fared well. Speech was natural and concise, and music showed solid warmth and vivacity. Effects were bold and clean, with strong low-end response. This became a mostly positive mix.

The Blu-ray boasts a good mix of extras, and we find two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Roger Donaldson, producer Frank Mancuso Jr., visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund and creative and special makeup effects creator Steve Johnson. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, various effects, cast and performances, creature design and working with HR Giger, cinematography, and other aspects of their careers.

Though it has ups and downs, the commentary usually works fairly well. Unsurprisingly, the track comes to life mainly when effects material appears onscreen, and it maintains a technical orientation. Nonetheless, it covers a pretty good mix of subjects and remains largely interesting despite occasional lulls.

For the second commentary, we hear from director Roger Donaldson and actors Natasha Henstridge and Michael Madsen. These three sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of sets and locations, cast and performances, effects, and related elements.

This becomes an amiable but not especially informative track. Madsen mostly mopes about how he now looks old and he can’t get work, so Donaldson and Henstridge provide the most useful details. However, they don’t tell us a lot, as they usually just reminisce about the movie. Some decent anecdotes emerge, but the commentary lacks much substance.

Two featurettes appear. Designing a Hybrid runs 15 minutes, 48 seconds and includes notes from Edlund, Johnson, Mancuso, and Donaldson. “Hybrid” looks at the design and execution of various effects, with an emphasis on Sil. Some of the info repeats from the commentary, but this still becomes a good overview, especially since we see the technicians on the job.

HR Giger at Work goes for 12 minutes, seven seconds and features Donaldson, Henstridge, and writer/producer Dennis Feldman. As expected, this program focuses on the contributions creature designer HR Giger added to the film. We get a smattering of insights, and the most interesting moments come from the tour of Giger’s studio.

Previews presents ads for Into the Blue, SWAT and Underworld: Evolution. No trailer for Species appears here.

Even with a worthwhile premise and a good cast, Species never becomes better than mediocre. A few decent action scenes occur but most of the film feels like wasted potential. The Blu-ray provides good audio and supplements but picture looks flawed. Species could’ve been a contender but the end result remains lackluster.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9444 Stars Number of Votes: 18
0 3:
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