Overall sharpness looked positive. A few wide shots displayed a smidgen of softness – mainly due to lackluster film stocks – but most of the flick gave us accurate, well-defined elements. I saw no moiré effects or jaggies, and the transfer lacked both edge haloes and print flaws.
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. Overall, I felt impressed by this presentation.
In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA PCM 5.1 soundtrack held up fairly well over the last 20-plus 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.
How did this 2017 “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray compare to the original BD from 2006? Audio seemed comparable, as I thought this disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 track was very similar to the old BD’s lossless PCM 5.1.
On the other hand, visuals demonstrated obvious improvements. The 2017 transfer looked tighter and lost the 2006 disc’s print flaws. It also lacked the old version’s edge haloes and “digital feel”, so it became a much more natural, film-like rendition of the movie.
The 2017 CE mixes old and new 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.
Disc Two offers a mix of programs, two of which come from the 2006 BD. 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.
During the 16-minute, 35-second From Sil to Eve, we hear from Henstridge as she discusses how she got into acting, 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.
Footnote: as indicated at the start of the featurette, “Sil to Eve” is the same piece that already appeared on the Species II Blu-ray. The version here makes no changes to that disc’s program.
The remaining features didn’t appear on the 2006 BD, and these begin with a documentary called After Birth. It goes for 36 minutes, 43 seconds and offers info from Donaldson, Johnson, production designer John Muto, creature supervisor Norman Cabrera, director of photography Andrzej Bartkowiak, chrysalis supervisor Billy Bryan, and composer Christopher Young. “Birth” looks at development, creature design and execution, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography and effects, and music.
Overall, “Birth” offers a fairly good look at the production. Additional input from actors would’ve been nice, but we still get a nice array of insights during this useful program.
With Engineering Life, we find a 16-minute, 50-second clip with Chemistry/Biochemistry Professors Norbert Reich and Kevin Plaxco, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Professor Robert Goldberg, Union of Concerned Scientists Senior Scientist Douglas Gurian-Sherman, Biological Sciences Professor Myron Goodman, ChimeraCore CEO Miguel de los Rios,
“Life” examines the science behind Species, with an emphasis on genetic engineering. Inevitably, this becomes somewhat dry, but it offers a reasonable examination of the subject matter.
The Making of Species fills 49 minutes, five seconds with info from Feldman, Donaldson, Mancuso, Madsen, Henstridge, Muto, and actors Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Michelle Williams, Marg Helgenberger, and Forest Whitaker. This show examines the film’s roots and development, aspects of the script, story and characters, cast and performances, and production design.
Despite the length of “Making”, the show lacks a lot of depth. While we find a decent array of details, a lot of the program feels semi-superficial. “Making” ends up as a spotty documentary.
Next we get an Alternate Ending. This two-minute, 11-second sequence expands past the existing finale and focuses on the Lennox and Baker characters. It’s a pretty bland way to end the film.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the set ends with three galleries. We find sections devoted to “Production Design” (3:22), “Creature Design” (8:11) and “Stills” (103 images). All of them add some good material.
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 strong visuals as well as good audio and a nice selection of bonus features. While the movie itself leaves me somewhat cold, this Collector’s Edition reproduces it well.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of SPECIES