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.