Species is a genre movie that capitalized on the success of the Alien and Predator movies. There is nothing original about the story--alien race transmits message containing DNA instructions for genetically engineering a human/alien hybrid which will breed and take over the planet unless our hapless band of misfit heroes can stop her--this is standard sci-fi schlock with a lot of alien-erotic teenage masturbatory stuff thrown in for good measure. Yes, Natasha Henstridge is sexy, and most people will watch the movie again and again for that reason alone, but even if you think, as I do, that Species is a really silly movie with a lot of bad writing, there is something remarkably watchable about it.
Score one big point for the casting. Forest Whitaker is a great actor and his Dan, sensitive empath turned reluctant hero is fun to watch. My first reaction to the movie is that Ben Kingsley should be ashamed to have participated, but frankly, I can't help thinking how much fun this must have been for him, so I'll let him off the hook. I personally think that Marg Helgenberger is one of the most under-used and under appreciated actresses in the business, unfortunately, the bulk of the lousy script fell to her to deliver. Michael Madsen is exactly the same guy in this film as he's been in every other, dark, brooding tough guy. And of course, there's Natasha, who does a pretty good job acting like an alien. What does that imply?
Pan and Scan and Widescreen formats presented here, so of course, I watched the widescreen. The blacks are true but the contrast between light and dark seems off through certain parts, particularly the underground scenes towards the end, which were really difficult to watch. Also during those underground sequences I noticed a lot of crackling and some color shifting, and these are scenes that are heavy on the special effects. This was not a big budget film, so I'll cut them some slack on those effects. On DVD the cheap CGI often looks pretty cartoonish. The sound was good but I didn't really notice any artful use of separation.
The movie trailer was here of course (we actually thought the trailer was more exciting than the movie) along with 37 chapter selections. The disc is light on extras but it comes with an eight page booklet of production notes, trivia, etc.
Species is what I would call a cable movie. It's the kind of flick that comes on six times a week on the same station and every time you flip the channels you get sucked into watching it. Frankly, this is a lackluster disc of the kind of movie that may actually look better and feel campier on VHS.
Amy Morrison, 5/18/00