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March 13, 2008
Species Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
3/8/19955/2/2008FoxRoger Donaldson
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Natasha Henstridge

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Messing around in the pool.
Released in 1995 Species is a movie that may not have received the best reviews (it has an average score of 5.5/10 on IMDB from 15,231 votes, and only 36% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 28 media reviews), but it has earnt itself a loyal following around the globe with numerous fans - myself included. Indeed the theatrical run took in an impressive $US113 million which wasn't a bad effort by anyone's standards. If anything the movie has picked up even more fans since its release on DVD several years ago, and to see it on Blu-Ray already is a bonus.

When a beautiful human-alien hybrid (Natasha Henstridge) escapes from observation, scientist Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) dispatches a crew of experts to find her before she is able to fulfill her horrific purpose: to mate with unsuspecting men and produce offspring that could destroy mankind. As her deadly biological clock ticks rapidly, Fitch and his team are hurled into a desperate battle in which the fate of humanity itself hangs in the balance!

One thing to mention about this movie is that creature design was handled by the legendary H. R. Geiger who most should know as the designer of the aliens in, ermm, Aliens. Creature design in Species is also very impressive, with just as much attention to detail as the Sigourney Weaver movies. While this movie doesn't star Sigourney Weaver you should still be rather impressed with who actually makes an appearance in Species.

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Even Ben Kingsley was roped into this movie.
First of all this we have former model Natasha Henstridge in her very first movie role, and her performance is quite impressive. Other actors making an appearance in the movie include Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger, and a very young Michelle Williams. For such a B-grade movie one would have expected these actors to just be turning up for their cheques, but they do put in a decent effort across the board.

Having seen Species several times now I still enjoy it quite a bit. Sure, it's a popcorn flick through and through, but there's enough nudity (hey, does that make a movie watchable!?), tension, action and even some comedic moments that sustains the movie over its 1 hour 48 minute runtime. Don't expect a masterpiece, it's not even close. Alien still trounces it in almost every department for 'shit your pants' tension, but this is still entertaining.

Prior to receiving this disc from Fox I was concerned that we would receive the same transfer as America which was less then perfect. Released through Sony Pictures the American version was encoded in MPEG-2 and apparently suffers from several technical issues. Fortunately the transfer on this disc from Fox is encoded in the (at least perceived) superior AVC MPEG-4 codec at 1080p in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Prior to seeing this movie on Blu-Ray I was hopeful that Fox would provide a decent transfer and fans of the movie will be pleased to hear that not only is this passable, but it will likely exceed expectations although it's not what you would consider reference quality. Still, given the age of the film (it is now 13 years old!) and that it isn't going to be a massive release Fox have done an admirable job.

Species on Blu-Ray is certainly much sharper then the DVD releases. Detail in both background and foreground aspects is impressive and the colours are a lot richer then the two DVD releases. Now, we did mention that this disc wasn't reference quality and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, there is a bit of grain throughout the movie, particularly in the darker scenes while there is also the very occasional dirt and marks on the print. Secondly there were a couple of scenes which are a little on the soft side. It could be from the source, but I'm not so sure. One particular scene in question sees the young Sil jumping over a fence to escape capture.

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Natasha Henstridge looks hot.

Audio on the Species Blu-Ray is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 form. As always we have to note that we can only extract the 1.5Mbps core DTS audio thanks to the PS3 limitations, however even this is a remarkable track, and vastly superior to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 384kbps on the DVD release.

Audio is crystal clear for the most part with solid use of surround sound channels when required, as well as the sub-woofer. Dialogue is also clear at all times while the effects are used to build tension in scenes where required. Music by Christopher Young is quite impressive with some great sci-fi like themes. You know what I mean, orchestral, but ramping up with a dramatic tension when required. Overall Species is a very solid experience on Blu-Ray in terms of audio.

The other audio track presented on this disc is a German DTS 5.1 track encoded at 768kbps which, from short samples, provides an impressively clear option should you choose to listen to the movie in this language. Subtitles are available in seven languages including English for the Hearing Impaired. From our sampling of the subtitles the text seems accurate to the dialogue in the movie.

Species has been released on a couple of occasions on DVD, and this Blu-Ray release has a couple of extras worth spending some time with - primarily the commentaries. Still there are quite a few extras that made it onto a 2-disc definitive DVD edition that were omitted from this release which is disappointing. He;;, we'd be happy with the DVD extras ported over in Standard Definition. This is something which Fox need to look at in future.

Commentary with Director Roger Donaldson and Actors Michael Madsen and Natasha Henstridge: Certainly the lightest of the two commentaries the three participants have a fairly good rapport and manage to provide quite a few entertaining anecdotes about the production of the film. They are probably even more entertaining to listen to as they realise this isn't Ben-Hur but a sci-fi action flick. Well worth a listen.

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This sex seen is hot, and deadly.
Commentary with Director Roger Donaldson, Producer Frank Mancuso Jr., Visual-effects supervisor Richard Edlund and on-set creature creator Steve Johnson: Certainly a little heavier in subject matter this commentary is a little harder slog. Given that we've already heard Roger Donaldson on the other commentary it makes this seem a little too similar at times.

Designing a Hybrid (15:48): This documentary looks at the on-set creature use including the mechanical Sil. There's some good information here, and a few great behind the scenes clips so fans of the movie will want to check this out.

H.R. Geiger at Work (12:08): A pretty nice little featurette that looks at the legendary H. R. Geiger at work. His artwork and creature design is legendary and it's great to have this insight into his live, albeit only for a short period of time.

While the two sequels are laughable jokes, this original Species movie is quite watchable. While it doesn't set any new benchmarks for sci-fi alien movies, it will keep you on the edge of your seat on numerous occasions and, hell, you get to see quite a bit of Natasha Henstridge naked too! If you like the movie then this Blu-Ray disc will be a fine addition to your collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.