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Blu-ray Review: Species

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Unintentionally campy, Species is a load of creature feature fun. While the special effects are terribly dated and the performances impossible to be taken seriously, this gory romp offers adequate entertainment value.

Ben Kingsley, who is completely out of place here, stars as a government agent tasked with tracking down an alien species whose DNA has been merged with a human. The problem is this hybrid critter is in desperate need of male companionship to breed and do what all aliens do: try to take over the world. That’s what Species does best, blatantly exploiting Natasha Henstridge’s finest assets in her first starring role.

The science side of things, well paced and explained, doesn’t slow down the minuscule plotline. There's enough action and chase sequences to see this one through the end. The finale, loaded with some of the earliest motion capture animation effects in Hollywood, may fumble in that regard, but provides plenty of fire and intensity. Eerie and disgusting practical effects are effective on the other hand, including some gruesome gore that should satisfy any gore hound.

You can’t dissect Species to find some deeper meaning or justify its existence with any actual purpose. It’s goal was to make an erotic, goofy creature flick loaded with boobs and blood. Species has that market cornered, and unless your morals tell you otherwise, this is stupidly fun entertainment.

Species looks decent in its Blu-ray debut. Black levels are rich and bold. Colors tend to waver between over-saturated and flat. They’re hardly consistent. Some minor edge enhancement in the early going is quickly erased as the film moves on. The transfer is sharp and at times finely detailed in close-ups. Like the rest of this presentation though, details are also inconsistent and at times murky.

Strong, powerful bass is the highlight of this audio mix. That’s about the best thing it has going for it. While there is some noticeable separation, the rear speakers are left out. Only minor bits and pieces of action find their way into all channels, disappointing given the potential for atmosphere in the closed corridors of the finale.

Two commentaries lead the extras, one with director Roger Donaldson, Michael Madsen, and Natasha Henstridge discussing the film from their points of view. The second also has Donaldson leading the visual effects crew through the process of crafting the creature effects and gore.

Two featurettes culled from a Species DVD box set are included. The first is Designing a Hybrid, a 15 minute piece on the effects that lauds the arrival of motion capture. The second is H.G. Giger at Work which takes fans into the artist's home (he designed the creature here and for Alien) and the studio where he works. It’s excellent fan service during its 12 minute run.

Species may have been critically panned for being what it is, but it didn’t stop people from spending $60 million to see it in theaters. That stat gave the greenlight to Species II, a dud that varied greatly from the original and didn’t even break $20 million. The third and fourth films ended up going directly to video

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.