Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)
1995 (July 26, 2022)
MGM/UA (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/program category: B
- Video Note: A
- Audio quality: A
- Additional Rank: A
Often lumped together with the deluge of sci-fi horror films released throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Species debuted at the box office, despite unsavory reviews from critics. He embellished the designs and concepts of HR Giger with the support of special effects maestros Steve Johnson and Richard Edlund, while transforming his star, Natasha Henstridge, into an authentic sex symbol overnight.
As part of the SETI program, a group of scientists receive extraterrestrial instructions on how to splice alien DNA into human DNA. In doing so, they succeed in producing a young girl named Sil (Michelle Williams), who ages at an advanced rate. Sil escapes his limits and heads out into the world, aging even more into an attractive adult (Natasha Henstridge). Project overseer Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) and his team that includes Baker (Marg Helgenberger), Arden (Alfred Molina), Dan (Forest Whitaker) and Lennox (Michael Madsen) hunt her down. As they search the streets of Los Angeles for her, Sil develops a need to procreate. Constantly thwarted, she leaves behind a string of corpses, and it’s up to the team to find and stop her.
A simplistic story of an alien genetics experiment gone wrong, Species managed to attract a variety of names in front of and behind the camera, all of whom were working at the top of their respective games. The obvious star of the film (besides Henstridge) are the practical makeup effects and visuals, which clash horribly with extremely dated CGI. The film’s pacing has a decent momentum behind it, but the story fades as things get more interesting, leaving an unsatisfying climax in its wake. Either way, there’s a lot of good in Species it still works. It’s not a scary movie in monster terms, but it has good performances and memorable sets, and there’s clearly a smart creative team behind it.
Species was shot by cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak on 35mm film using Panavision Panaflex Platinum cameras and Panavision Primo and E-Series lenses, photochemically finished and presented in an aspect ratio of 2 ,39:1. Scream Factory revisits the film in 4K Ultra HD with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, which was finalized in 4K Digital Intermediate and rated for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included) . Scream Factory’s previous Blu-ray improved on MGM’s, but this 4K presentation tops them all. It features an extremely high bit rate, mostly hovering around 90 Mbps, with excellent textures and a smooth and refined grain structure. Detail is off the charts, amplified in every scene under all lighting conditions, man-made or otherwise. The contrast is perfect and the images are sharp. The HDR10 grade is excellent, but the Dolby Vision further enhances the finer nuances of shadows and skin textures. Highlights are solid without looking blown out or overworked and blacks are velvety smooth. Hues are richer and much more accurate, especially when it comes to skin tones and foliage. The colors found on costumes and items also pop a bit more. The dodgy CGI stands out, especially towards the end, but thankfully there’s very little of it. It’s a clean and stable presentation, and the best the film has ever seen on home video.
Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English SDH subtitles. Both have a great amount of support, but the 5.1 definitely offers more wrap, giving ambient and LFE plenty to do. Dialogue exchanges are mostly relegated to the forefront, while surround activity, particularly panning, is minimal. The sound effects are all pretty crisp and clear. The stereo track is similar, but more confined.
Species on 4K Ultra HD is included in a 3-Disc collector’s edition package with an amaray black case alongside a Blu-ray of the film in 1080p (containing the same 4K transfer) and a second Blu-ray of extras. A double-sided insert is also included with the original theatrical movie poster artwork on the front and the teaser poster artwork on the reverse. Everything is housed in a limited slipcover with the original theatrical poster artwork. The following extras are included:
DISCS ONE AND TWO: FILM (UHD)
- Audio commentary with Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and Roger Donaldson
- Audio commentary with Roger Donaldson, Steve Johnson, Richard Edlund and Frank Mancuso, Jr.
DISC THREE: EXTRAS (BD)
- After birth: the evolution of species (HD – 36:43)
- From Sil to Eve with Natasha Henstridge (HD – 16:35)
- Life Engineering (SD Scaled – 16:50)
- HR Giger at work (SD Scaled – 12:07)
- The making of species (SD Scaled – 49:05)
- Design a hybrid (SD Scaled – 15:48)
- An alternate ending (SD scaled – 2:11)
- Theatrical trailer (SD scaled – 1:52)
- Production Design Gallery (HD – 50 in all – 3:22)
- Creature Design Gallery (HD – 150 in all – 8:11)
- Still Image Gallery (HD – 106 in all – 8:37)
All extras from previous versions of the film from Scream Factory and MGM have been retained. There are two audio commentaries, one with actors Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and director Roger Donaldson, and the other with Donaldson, makeup effects designer Steve Johnson, visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund and the producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. After birth: the evolution of species is an excellent retrospective documentary on the film’s special effects from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, and features interviews with Roger Donaldson, Steve Johnson, production designer John Muto, creature supervisor Norman Cabrera, cinematographer Andzej Bartkowiak, the Chrysalis supervisor Billy Bryan and composer Christopher Young. From Sil to Evewhich was produced for the Scream Factory Blu-ray release of Species II by Red Shirt Pictures, features an interview with Natasha Henstridge talking about rising to fame very quickly from the film, doing films she later regrets, enjoying making the second film despite it not being as good as the first, and to feel proud to have been part of the franchise. In the Life Engineering featurette, a group of scientists that includes Professors Kevin Plaxco, Robert Goldberg, Norbert Reich, Myron Goodman, and Doctors Douglas Gurian-Sherman and Miguel de los Rios discuss the real-world implications of DNA splicing. HR Giger at work talks about the late artist with Roger Donaldson, Natasha Henstridge, and writer/producer Dennis Feldman, and features a behind-the-scenes tour by Giger personally of his studio as he sculpts for the film. The making of species The DVD documentary produced by Greg Carson is presented in three parts: The origin, The conceptand Discovery. It examines the making of the film using on-set and retrospective interviews mixed with behind-the-scenes footage and alternate takes. It features interviews with Dennis Feldman, Frank Mancuso, Jr., Roger Donaldson, John Muto, Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Michelle Williams, Marg Helgenberger and Natasha Henstridge. Design a hybrid discusses creature effects work with Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson, Frank Mancuso, Jr., and Roger Donaldson. The image galleries contain a total of 306 photos. The Production Design Gallery features 50 still images of storyboards, models and sets under construction. The Creature Design Gallery features 150 still images of sculpting and special effects makeup in progress and on set. The Still Image Gallery features 106 still images of poster concepts, promotional photos, behind-the-scenes photos, creature concepts, press photos, posters and lobby cards. It should be noted that the audio commentary with Kim Newman and Sean Hogan recorded for the 88 Films Region B Blu-ray release of the film was not included here.
ScreamFactory collector’s edition 4K Ultra HD from Species doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of bonus materials, but they’re all quality, as is the main presentation. If the CGI had mixed in a little more than it does, it would be a perfect presentation. As it stands, it’s still an accurate representation of the movie and a very worthy upgrade.
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