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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 11th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1998

Species II - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Collector's Edition

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes freaky-deeky sleazy sexy alien domination! The deliciously trashy
Species II impregnates our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collections thanks to Scream Factory. The film hasn’t gotten better with age, but the H.R. Giger-inspired practical effects are still a marvel, and the film looks better than ever thanks to a new 4K restoration and Dolby Vision HDR. The respectable bonus features package returns for a release that is at the very least Recommended
 

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265/Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
93
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 5.1/2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
June 11th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

"Oh, this is awful! This is just awful!"  

Eight years sure do fly by! It’s been that long since I reviewed Scream Factory’s Blu-ray of Species II and in that time I honestly don’t think I’ve watched the film again. Which is wild because I actually do like it. As trashy as it is, it’s far more entertaining than it has a right to be. To that effect, I think the appeal of this film is that it leans harder into trashy exploitation than its predecessor. The kills are far more graphic, the practical effects more elaborate - and phallic, and the film just isn’t interested in being “respectable.” I appreciate when and where the film works best, and I giggle at how disinterested most of our returning cast appears. Natasha Henstridge in various states of undress is the main draw. Marg Helgenberger looks like she’s trying to make it through with some measure of respect. Michael Madsen just looks like he’s waiting for someone to bring him a hotdog between takes. A “guilty pleasure” for sure, but an entertaining one with some fine practical effects craftsmanship. 

Here’s my Species II Review from 2016 

Certain movies just cry out for a sequel. There's something about some movies where that first adventure just leaves the general audience thirsty for more, whether that be rampaging dinosaurs, frozen superheroes from World War II, or aliens that like to burst through people's chests. Franchises are born out of that one big hit film that leaves fans wanting more. However, the franchise model is often misapplied to certain movies where a "one and done" approach should have been maintained. The '1995' H.R. Giger inspired alien creature feature 'Species' was a modest hit that banked on the premise of a sexy half breed human/alien that had sex with men and killed them as she tried to get pregnant in order to spawn a new breed of terror. The movie was fun, and it did leave the door open for a sequel, but one wasn't needed. 1998's 'Species II' proved that the well of this franchise was pretty shallow. 

After the last outing with the alien/human hybrid Sil, the defense department realized their mistake in blindly following the alien instructions to merge human and alien DNA. Now under the watchful eye of the Pentagon and Colonel Carter Burgess (George Dzundza), they've recreated the human/alien now known as Eve (Natasha Henstridge again) in order to learn the alien's biological weaknesses. Kept under strict supervision by Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger), she's also separated from any and all men so as to not spur her sex drive. All of this effort is to discover the creatures' weaknesses - if they have any - and the solution they find will be quickly put to the test.

Humans have just landed on Mars! In a state-of-the-art spacecraft that was sponsored by the likes of Reebok, Sprint and Pepsi, pilots Dennis Gamble (Mykelti Williamson) and Anne Sampas (Myriam Cyr) eagerly await the news that their captain Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard) has landed safely on the red planet. With the American flag firmly planted in Martian dirt, Patrick gathers up some soil samples and scurries back onto the mothership orbiting above a hero to the entire human race. After a quick conversation with the President (Richard Belzer), the crew is headed back to home, unfortunately, they managed to pick up a guest. Packed in one of the soil samples is a primordial alien ooze that is the basis of the alien DNA of Eve. The ooze infects the crew and they unknowingly bring a plague back to Earth with them.

When Patrick returns home after 11 months in space, he's a tad randy. As the son of Senator Judson Ross (James Cromwell), he has a reputation to live up to - especially with the ladies. After a particularly dangerous liaison that leaves two women dead, Patrick is now a father of two alien hybrid children! With every woman that Patrick mates with, Eve's senses go haywire. As the scientific team becomes convinced there is another alien out there, they bring in tough guy Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen) to hunt the creature down with Eve as a bloodhound. But can they trust Eve? What is going to happen when she meets one of her own kind? Will their new weapon work on this new alien/human hybrid or will mankind be wiped off the map?

'Species II' is quite possibly the very definition of diminishing returns. From the story to the direction to the performances, this is a movie that just didn't try to be anything new or exciting. It's also a tonal mishap. Is it supposed to be a sci-fi/horror film or a comedy? While some moments are obviously played for laughs with numerous visual puns, the rest of the movie tries to play things straight like it is some sort of horrific STD metaphor. There's never a balance to the show. One minute it's being goofy as all get out and the next the most horrific birthing scene since 'Xtro' is happening on screen! 

While Justin Lazard puts a lot of effort into his role as Patrick, a man conflicted about who or what he is, the rest of the cast never really amounts to much. Even James Cromwell who is usually a good sport for films like this appears bored with his scant few scenes. Mykelti Williamson is fine, but he's just not in it much and Myriam Cyr is really only there to die in a gloriously horrific way. As for the returning cast of Natasha Henstridge, Marg Helgenberger, and Michael Madsen, the only one of the three that even tries to do anything with their role is Henstridge. Since Eve is supposed to be more of an innocent character, Henstridge does her best to give the part some nuance, but even then half of her part is reduced to her running in slow motion while in a state of undress. Madsen and Helgenberger appear to be here to just cash a paycheck and say and do as little as possible. 

Taken as a piece of B-Movie schlock, 'Species II' is a good bit of fun, but that's all. It's a guilty pleasure movie through and through and shouldn't be viewed with any lofty ideas or expectations for quality. As a movie of a late 1990s vintage, it has managed to date itself with an overuse of cheap weightless-looking CGI effects, however, the practical creature and gore effects are still pretty fantastic. So on that level, 'Species II' does have something to offer. As far as the franchise goes, the 'Species' series should probably have stopped here, but two more direct to video sequels would follow shortly after this film's dismal box office returns.  

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 
Scream Factory delivers Species II to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a new two-disc 4k UHD + Blu-ray Collector’s Edition. The 4K is pressed on a BD-100 disc (but weirdly leaves about 30 gigs of disc space on the table) with a BD-50 serving up the restored 1080p and bonus features. The discs are housed in a two-disc black case with identical slipcover artwork. The discs load to animated main menus with standard navigation options.

Video Review

Ranking:

Sourced from a new 4K restoration and presented in Dolby Vision HDR (HDR10 too, obviously). Considering all things, I’m quite impressed with the final results. More than the first film, Species II leaned a bit more on CGI effects to pull off some of its more dramatic visual trickery. While some of those CGI overlays still have a weightless hovering quality (that shot of the Mars lander coming out of the shuttle is still iffy), others look rather impressive. The notorious reconstructed gunshot head sequence, while still an example of late 90s CGI, is still a slick effect. Practical effects for all of our creatures and birth sequences are as ghastly and horrifying but now we can witness them in sharper, clearer detail. To that point, details are robust and clear giving extra attention to textures and facial features. The full Patrick alien monster is a beast! Film grain is retained throughout for a nice natural film-like appearance. Where the transfer slips a little is under the scrutiny of 4K, some of the process and composite shots stand out more now. And for some of these shots softness can creep in and out depending on the complexity of the effect. 

Dolby Vision gives the film a nice upgrade for color saturation, black levels, and contrast. The film has a much better three-dimensional sense of depth to the transfer. Colors are bold and saturated nicely, skin tones are much more healthy and human-looking than in 2016. Whites are brilliantly crisp without blooming, and considering how much blood is spilled in those sheets, it’s a nice enhancement for all of the gore and viscera. Overall this isn’t going to be a contender for the greatest 4K release of all time, but for this particular title, it’s a welcome upgrade.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The same DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix returns and that’s actually a good thing. The difference in my assessment now and how I reviewed the film eight years ago is I made a substantial investment in my audio setup so I appreciate more how this track hits on the low end, the dialog clarity, and effect disbursement throughout the surround channels. Even during quiet sequences, enough background effects are moving into the surround to keep those channels active. Levels are spot on, imaging is solid with a natural flow between channels. Using my receiver’s DTS Neural: X function, I noticed an appreciable improvement in effects spread and LFE impact to make that a worthwhile experience. The same DTS-HD MA 2.0 track is also included, and it’s a nice piece on its own, but the 5.1 is much more satisfying.

Special Features

Ranking:

The same extra features from the 2016 disc return, nothing new has been added to the soup. 

  • Audio Commentary: Director Peter Medak provides a solid commentary track detailing his involvement with the film, the casting, and working on the script. All around a solid listen. 
  • From Sil to Eve: (HD 16:21) Actress Natasha Henstridge gives a solid interview about her experiences working on the movie and how it helped her start her career. 
  • Creature Creations: (HD 28:48) So, if you're a creature effects or a gore fan and want to know how it all works and what went into creating the effects for this movie, you've gotta see this extra feature. 
  • Alien Evolutions: (HD 19:00) This is an awesome interview with screenwriter Chris Brancato. It's a great interview, he details how and why he got into the industry and how he moved from television into feature films and becoming a producer of his own content and ultimately how he got to work on 'Species II.' It's a really funny when he discusses the reworking of the ending. 
  • Special Effects Outtakes: (SD 13:32) This is rough cut workprint footage of the visual effects sequences. Some pretty great stuff and how really gooey some of the effects got. 
  • Additional Scenes: (SD 8:02)
  • Still Galleries: This is a collection of scene stills as well as behind the scenes pics as well as some pre-production concept images. 
  • Theatrical Trailer: (HD 2:15)

I don’t think anyone is going to accuse Species II of being a “good” movie, at least in a traditional sense. That said, for a great piece of bloody sci-fi exploitation sleaze, this film’s a riot. I really enjoyed how director Peter Medak and his team dialed up the sex, blood, and gore to eleven without any shame. Again… that first birth scene is a whopper! On 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Species II looks better thanks to an impressive 4K restoration and HDR grade. The audio is still solid with a nice selection of extra features. Fans of the flick will want to pick it up - maybe we’ll get the two direct-to-video sequels on 4K next? Recommended