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SHOUT! FACTORY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Peter Medak
Cast:
Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, Mykelti Williamson, James Cromwell
Writing Credits:
Chris Brancato

Synopsis:
An astronaut gets infected with alien DNA during the first mission on Mars and runs amok on earth. Preston and Laura team up with a peaceful, genetically re-engineered Sil to track the monster down.

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 3/8/2016

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Medak
• “From Sil to Eve” Featurette
• “Creature Creations” Featurette
• “Alien Evolutions” Featurette
• Special Effects Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage
• “Species II: Eve of Destruction” Featurette
• Uncut Footage Not Shown In Theaters
• Still Gallery
• Special Makeup Effects Gallery
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
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.

RELATED REVIEWS


Species II [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2016)

Although 1995’s Species didn’t rake in the big bucks, it did well enough to spawn a sequel: 1998’s uncreatively titled Species II. That one bombed at the box office but still prompted further sequels, which proves that horror franchises never die.

A manned mission to Mars places Commander Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) as the first human to set foot on the planet. Alas, this comes with negative repercussions, as he brings back soil samples contaminated by alien DNA that infects Ross and his crew.

In the meantime, a team of scientists led by Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) clones Sil, the alien/human hybrid from the first film. That experiment flopped, but Dr. Baker and colleagues hope that they can figure out how to “tame” the clone – now named “Eve” (Natasha Henstridge) to use her to combat a potential alien attack.

This possibility becomes reality when Commander Ross mutates into an alien, one who attempts to fulfil Sil’s mission from the prior flick. Ross tries to mate with human females and launch a virtual alien invasion. With the aid of Dr. Baker and mercenary Press Lennox (Michael Madsen), Eve goes into service to combat Ross, but matters don’t evolve as the humans hoped.

Given that I didn’t care for the original film, I can’t say I went into Species II with high expectations. After all, most sequels fare less well than their predecessors, so why would I believe Species II would improve on the template?

Because I’m a dope, I guess. To be fair, the occasional sequel to a bad film does work, so my hope that Species II would offer entertainment wasn’t completely irrational. However, that dream became dashed in a hurry, as not much about the tacky, cheesy Species II satisfies.

I couldn’t locate budget figures for Species II, but I’ll assume it cost less than the first film’s $35 million – and maybe a lot less. While I didn’t think Species offered great production values, it seemed considerably more professional than this sub-“B”-movie.

None of the flick’s effects seem convincing. The mission to Mars looks like something from a 1970s film, and the other effects don’t fare much better. The CG seems more dated than we might expect even from 1998, and all of this results in substandard production values.

I do give Species II credit for its refusal to remake the first movie. Too many sequels simply echo their predecessors, whereas Species II manages to mostly find its own path.

Unfortunately, it’s not an especially interesting path, as the story meanders quite a bit. We follow Patrick’s “mating spree” and reactions to this, all of which send the movie down something of a serial killer direction. This seems convoluted and unconvincing, especially because subplots detract from the main narrative.

Species II ramps up the gore, which is good or bad dependent on the viewer’s attitude. I don’t mind blood and guts if they suit the story, but in this case, the unpleasant material seems gratuitous. The film becomes graphic for no logical reason and seems to pursue gross-out footage to distract us from its lack of substance.

Director Peter Medak certainly doesn’t seem to know what to do with any of this. The film lacks purpose or clarity, and it comes with poor choices such as the constantly spinning camera during a long dialogue scene. I get the desire to add some “spice” to a potentially sluggish sequence, but when it appears the participants are on a carousel, that’s a distraction.

And then there’s the utter lack of logic to so much of the film. Ross is a national hero – who usually seems to go unrecognized in public unless the story needs for him to be identified. Eve throws a baseball at a soldier and knocks her out – even though the baseball hits the soldier’s helmet. Dr. Baker freaks out when a man enters Eve’s area – even though Colonel Carter Burgess (George Dzundza) apparently comes there all the time. I guess he doesn’t count because he’s fat and old.

This doesn’t even get to the movie’s obvious lifts from Alien as well as the awful dialogue poor Mykelti Williamson must spout. Seriously, “a brother can’t get no booty”?

At least Henstridge gets naked again, and we see a few other lovely ladies undressed. Leave out those scenes and I can’t find much to appreciate about the cheap, tawdry Species II.


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

Species II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a decent but unexceptional presentation.

Like all aspects of the transfer, sharpness seemed adequate. Much of the movie showed reasonably good delineation, but more than a little softness occurred, and even the best shots didn’t exactly seem razor-sharp. Overall definition was fine but not great.

I saw no jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws were a moderate distraction, though. The movie came with light but persistent specks and marks; these weren’t dominant but they seemed more apparent than I’d expect, especially since this isn’t an old movie.

Colors tended toward a blue tint, and they remained acceptable. The hues never came across with great vivacity, but they appeared decent and without obvious problems. Blacks were moderately rich, and shadows showed mostly positive clarity. Across the board, the image came across as pretty average.

I can’t claim the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio did much for me either. 1998 boasted a lot of good movie soundtracks, but Species II lacked much zing.

This meant a surprisingly lackluster soundscape. The mix used the front speakers in a decent manner, though localization wasn’t great. I felt elements tended to spread across the forward channels without much specificity, and they blended to the rear in a mild manner. Given the movie’s subject matter and the era in which it was created, this should’ve been a bold, engaging soundfield, but instead, it seemed oddly restrained.

Audio quality was mostly fine. Lines could be a little reedy, and they occasionally bled from the center to the sides, but dialogue usually showed positive clarity. Music offered fairly good vivacity, and effects showed decent accuracy and heft. Nothing here seemed especially problematic, but I expected more power and involvement for a mix from 1998.

This Shout! Factory release comes with a bunch of extras, and we open with an audio commentary from director Peter Medak. He offers a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, deleted scenes, story/character areas, music, various effects, cinematography, and related domains.

Medak provides a pretty solid look at his film. He touches on all the expected subjects and does so in a pretty thorough manner. All this adds up to an informative chat.

From there we head to video extras, and we start with From Sil to Eve. This offers a 16-minute, 21-second interview with actor Natasha Henstridge, as she discusses how she got into movies, the Species movies and other aspects of her career. Henstridge proves to be fun and chatty as she offers a good look at her time on the films.

Next comes the 28-minute, 48-second Creature Creations. In this piece, we hear from creature makeup effects creator Steve Johnson, supervising cosmetic designer Leonard MacDonald, transformation supervisor Joel Harlow, and chrysalis effects supervisor William Bryan. The piece covers a mix of effects techniques used on the film. That kind of material can be dry, but “Creations” delivers a pretty rollicking discussion, especially when Johnson tells stories about HR Giger.

With Alien Evolutions, we find a 19 minute reel with screenwriter Chris Brancato. He chats about how he got into screenwriting as well as his work on Species II. Brutally honest, Brancato brings us a solid collection of notes, especially when he talks about how the movie’s final scene evolved beyond his control.

Special Effects Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Footage lasts 13 minutes, 32 seconds. This offers rough VHS material that shows details of various effects elements. Despite the poor quality of the video footage, we see some interesting close-ups that help us understand the work involved.

A featurette from 1998, Species II: Eve of Destruction goes for 11 minutes, 53 seconds and includes notes from Henstridge and actors George Dzundza, Justin Lazard, Marg Helgenberger, Michael Madsen. The show looks at cast and characters as well as effects. “Eve” remains firmly promotional and superficial.

Uncut Footage Not Shown In Theaters occupies eight minutes, two seconds, and gives us more poor-quality VHS material. We get extended versions of three scenes. They’re mildly interesting, but the ugliness of the visuals remains a distraction.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find two Galleries. We get a “Still Gallery” (86 images) and a “Special Makeup Effects Gallery” (74). The first offers a mix of publicity materials, shots from the set and effects images, while the second concentrates on those effects. Both offer good material, though the “Makeup Effects Gallery” duplicates more material from the “Still Gallery” than I’d like – I’m not sure why it repeats any information.

Perhaps one shouldn’t expect a sequel to a bad movie to succeed, but I still hoped that maybe Species II would entertain. Unfortunately, it ends up as nothing more than a cheap, tacky attempt at horror. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio as well as a pretty good set of supplements. Maybe Species II could’ve been worse, but it sure could’ve been a lot better.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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