This review is sponsored by
Main Menu Audio and Animation
Audio Commentary - Peter Medak (Director)
Theatrical Trailer - 1.85:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:02)
DVD Teaser Trailer (4:34)
|Running Time||89:13 minutes|
Fox Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 448 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It seems almost inevitable that if a film has some success and makes a few bucks, studios have this lemming-like need to release sequels that utterly bomb. So basically, everything that was ever made on the first film (or even more) was blown on the second lamentable effort. What makes things even worse is that any half-intelligent monkey could readily point out the scripts that have WPB written all over them, yet movie types cannot seem to make the same judgements. Bit of a worry really when professionals in the industry cannot show the same degree of intelligence as a monkey. So in broad terms, what is an abysmal script not only passed muster and got approved for production but the studio seemed to cheerfully keep up the charade of being blindingly happy with the film right up to near finalization when the inevitable conclusion that this had turkey written all over it was reached. At that stage, panic bells must have been ringing long and loud, but by then - too late! Money all spent! And so having blown the money anyway, the only chance for redemption is to get the film into the theatres quickly, then out on video and hope that revenues could be generated before the public wised up. DVD gave the studios another opportunity to perform a similar trick, and that would be the reason why this lamentable effort got an early Region 4 release.
Since then of course, the general situation in Region 4 has improved significantly and this turkey must be something of a dud by now. One can only conclude that it shall shortly have its retail price indicator reduced in order to start moving the excess stock that must be sitting in the warehouse.
However, since some might actually consider this tripe to be a worthy enough film to consider, etiquette dictates that I do provide some attempt at objective discourse about the film.
How many ways does it stink? Let me count them. Firstly, the aforementioned lousy story. Sad indeed is this effort, but broadly speaking your All-American Astronaut Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard), having been the first man to set foot on Mars, and his crew have a close encounter of the nasty kind with some alien slime and two out of three become alien mutants. Returning to Earth, Patrick naturally now can have just about any woman he wants, and the beast inside of him wants plenty, so we get to see some gratuitous sex scenes and some nasty births and deaths. The new alien invasion of Earth has begun. Trying to stop Patrick are our old friends Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) and Press Lennox (Michael Madsen) with the help of Patrick's crew member Gamble (Mykelti Williamson), who escaped the ravages of the alien slime through some genetic disorder. And so the race is on to stop Patrick before he mates with half alien/half human Eve (Natasha Henstridge), miraculously back to life thanks to cloning, and creates a super-alien race. It is as bad as it sounds and made worse by the fact that everyone took the damn thing seriously. Where is Ed Wood when you need him?
Secondly, we have the obligatory lousy acting. The funniest thing about this is listening to the apologetic-sounding director in his commentary trying to convince us that this cast is a gem. Must be fool's gold stuff, as there is nothing terrific in the acting department at all. The jury is still out on Natasha Henstridge's acting abilities, although it is certainly admitted that she looks good, especially when naked. Michael Madsen is from the wooden school of acting and demonstrates nothing here to suggest that Keanu Reeves has anything to be worried about, and even Keanu's wooden acting pales into comparison with that of the thankfully never really heard from again Justin Lazard. Well, at least I never heard of him again. The only standout performance here is from George Dzundza and that is because of the woeful miscasting rather than any acting ability. Sorry, but I have serious problems believing an army general with the general physique of Winnie The Pooh (come to think of it the acting is quite similar too...).
Thirdly, we have the sadly misdirected direction, and if you want to know why Peter Medak sounds so apologetic in his commentary, ten minutes of watching this film will explain all.
Fourthly, we have the rather ordinary special effects. Check out the spacecraft leaving Mars - really believable stuff in the ilk of Plan 9 From Outer Space...
Really and truly, this has all the hallmarks of a parody except no one knew it and tried to do the film straight. Species was a reasonably passable movie, if for no other reason than Ms Henstridge was naked for much of the film. Unfortunately not even Ms Henstridge getting naked in this film can save it. I doubt the presence of every member of every cheer squad in the National Football League naked could have saved this turkey. General rule of thumb is that the sequel is always worse than the original film in some inverse relationship to the amount of money the original film made. So if the original film made bugger all, then you can safely say the sequel will be as good as the original. If the original film made lots of money and was half-way decent, you can pretty much guarantee the sequel will not and will be amongst the worst films ever made.
This one is.
Overall, if you have a desperate need to part with your money when approaching this DVD, stop, take a deep breath and give the money to charity instead.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. According to the packaging (and I hasten to add this is the original Warners distributed release of the DVD so it may have been fixed in the Fox distributed re-release) the transfer is not 16x9 enhanced, but it most assuredly is so enhanced. Additionally, this transfer has been encoded with Auto Pan & Scan information.
This is a very similar mediocre transfer the ilk of which Disney have specialized in. In other words, there is nothing generally that bad about it but it is sadly lacking anything really good about it. In general, the sharpness is good but not terrific, the definition is good but nothing really spectacular and it is a reasonably clear transfer that really does not have much in the way of serious grain problems. Apart from some notable instances, mainly in the "nursery", shadow detail is reasonable but could and should have been better. The odd thing is that on occasions the whole transfer does really lift itself and take on a whole better aspect, such as during the car sequence as they are tracking down Patrick in the shopping centre.
Colours are quite decently handled although lacking a little in saturation at times. However, for a film that is only four years or so old, it is not really as good as we would expect. Certainly it could have done with somewhat more depth to the tones and the blacks are not really deep here at all. It is not an especially vibrant transfer and has a slightly matte look to it at times. There is no real indication of oversaturation at all. Colour bleed was not a problem in the transfer.
There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in
the transfer apart from some blockiness in an upward pan shot around 44:44.
There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the
transfer, although there was a sequence around the 55:35
mark which features some noticeable cross colouration and moiré
artefacting. There were some film artefacts floating around in the transfer,
but nothing that became too intrusive.
The dialogue came up pretty well in the transfer and was easy enough to understand. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I really do not know. There did not seem to be any audio sync issues with the transfer.
The score comes from Edward Shearmur, and despite the director's enthusiasm for it, is really a pretty ordinary effort. Then again, I suppose if anyone were forced to watch this film repeatedly in order to compose a score, then they would probably suffer a severe lack of motivation, too.
Not exactly a great example of the art of Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtracks, at best I would call this serviceable and little more.
There seemed to be little effective action through the rear channels and
the front surround channels were not the greatest supporters I have ever
heard. The bass channel got some adequate enough use, but I cannot help
but feel that the whole soundtrack just needed more bite to it. It certainly
would not have hurt the film at all. Overall, a reasonably open-sounding
effort without any major defects to complain about.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
19th March, 2001.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|