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.