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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Roger Donaldson
USA 1995

In 1993, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Project receives a transmission detailing an alien DNA structure, along with instructions on how to splice it with human DNA. The result is Sil, a sensual but deadly creature who can change from a beautiful woman to an armor-plated killing machine in the blink of an eye. Government agent Xavier Fitch assembles a team of scientists and mercenaries to locate and destroy Sil before she manages to find a mate and breed.

***

A hybrid created from human and alien DNA escapes from the top-secret laboratory of Dr Xavier Fitch (Kingsley); with her accelerated growth and insatiable desire to procreate, Sil (Henstridge, 'conceived and designed' by HR Giger) is a primed mobile sex-bomb. Fitch assembles a team of experts and weirdos to track down and destroy the broody alien babe. Madsen's heartless killing machine, Helgenburger's token female scientist, and Molina's dorky anthropologist join the hunt. But Whitaker's wigged-out 'empath' feels more deeply, and alone can tell the wood from the trees: standing in a wrecked train carriage, he looks down at a dead guard on the floor, then at the slime-oozing cocoon clinging to the wall, before declaring in a hushed voice, 'Something bad happened here.' Like some state-of-the-art remake of Lifeforce, this is every bit as bad as Tobe Hooper's film, but nothing like as enjoyable. Worst is the transition in the final scenes from snatched glimpses of a woman in a rubber suit to some oddly alienating motion-control effects. Floating like the ghosting on a poorly tuned TV, these are far too clean and artificial to be believable or remotely scary. Deserves extinction.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: July 7th, 1995

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DVD Comparison: 

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:48:10 1:48:12 1:48:26.458

Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P / 29.970 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:  23,439,552,892 bytes

Feature: 20,425,402,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.18 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-2

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate :

MGM

Bitrate: MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0),  French (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital DTS), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0),  French (Dolby Digital 2.0) LPCM Audio English 4608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4608 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None English, Spanish, None English (SDH), English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Pan and Scan version on same side

• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: March 26th, 1997
Keep case

Chapters 37

Release Information:
Studio: MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and director Roger Donaldson
• 
Commentary by director,

producer and visual special effects creators

• trailers for two other films

Disc 2
• 4 featurettes
• Alternate ending
• Species 4 : Sneak Preview
• Original theatrical trailer

• Image Gallery
 

DVD Release Date: October 2nd, 2007
Keep Case inside cardboard box

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

1080P / 29.970 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:  23,439,552,892 bytes

Feature: 20,425,402,368 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.18 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-2

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and director Roger Donaldson
• 
Commentary by director,

producer and visual special effects creators

• Designing a Hybrid featurette (15:45)

• H.G. Giger at Work featurette (12:00)
• 3 Sneak Preview

 

Blu-ray Release Date: October 2nd, 2007
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION MGM Blu-ray - September 2009: This early Blu-ray (Oct 2007) is only encoded with MPEG-2 and hence is not as big an advancement over the last DVD edition as we have seen in previous comparisons where the 1080 utilizes the VC-1 or AVC - but the transfer is progressive. The disc is single-layered but ends up being over double the bitrate. So there is definite superiority - detail and colors (flesh tones lose their orange hue) and things tighten up a bit - most notable in close-ups.

The audio appears to be a larger leap forward with an uncompressed linear PCM 5.1 at a strong 4608 kbps. The film has some aggressive effect sounds that permeate to the surround with strong depth. The higher-end doesn't seem as effective but overall I expect the track sounds about as good as it ever will. There are English and 7 foreign language subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

MGM have tacked on the most impressive supplements from the last DVD including the 2 commentaries (discussed below) and 2 of the better featurettes - Designing a Hybrid running close to 16-minutes and H.G. Giger at Work lasting 12-minutes. We lose two of the shorter featurettes, trailers and the image gallery.

So, it seems that, at the writing of this review that the Blu-ray is cheaper than either of the 2 DVDs! Actually I think that this film in 1080P isn't so bad a deal at less than $13 - especially if you haven't seen it before. It's an imperfect science-fiction but has some large, or rather 'pert', pluses. Performances by Natasha Henstridge, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, and Forest Whitaker and the suspenseful screenplay make it a very viable popcorn-night film. It's certainly no masterpiece but it's found it's place in quite a few film fans libraries.
 

***

 

ON THE DVDs: Firstly, this film has developed a kind of cult-status - certainly it's flawed but combine a decent sci-fi concept, healthy star power (Sir Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker) and finally - hottie Natasha Henstridge (first film for the lass) is partially nude a few times and we have the reason for its appeal. As a straight film its a bit of a dud but I admit some interest as a fairly exploitive HR Giger art-infused throw away - yeah I can't argue with critics that hate it but I can be a 'gullible guy' quite often and admit it has some personal appeal. 

We don't need to talk too much about the image - the new Collector's Edition is superior. Mostly in  the form of less intrusive digital noise but it covers all fronts - being sharper, has brighter colors, tighter to the frame edges, and there is some movement in the frame - in fact the old is about 2.53:1 - the CE is about 2:32: 1 - much closer to the original 2.35 ratio. Audio too goes the way of the CE with two healthy tracks - a 5.1 and a DTS that both 'bomb you' when the occasion arises. Both offer Spanish and French stereo DUBs. Another difference is the new CE loses the French subtitles optional on the original. Both still offers Spanish or English. Bottom line for the tech stuff is that the CE is vastly superior to the 1997 edition.

Okay the extras - the old offered the pan-and-scan version on the same side limiting space available for much more but the 2-disc has two commentaries (from 2004 Special Edition - out-of-print?); Natasha Henstridge, Michael Madsen and director Roger Donaldson have plenty of laughs and gaps in theirs and they don't impart too much interesting information. You could easy miss this. Roger Donaldson, Frank Mancuso Jr. and Steve Johnson (creator: creature and special makeup effects) isn't much more worth listening to. Contrarily to the first they discuss factors of the film that aren't really worth discussing and to be honest the film doesn't deserve a commentary (let alone 2). Sorry that may be harsh but there isn't too much depth to Species. It's appeal is surface and all this attempt at serious bonus stuff kinds of ruins its meager charisma.   

The second CE disc has a bunch of 4:3 interlaced featurettes (no subs offered) - Engineering Life is 15 minutes and talks with some scientist type guys about the potential of the plot (morphing life form species from another planet etc.) - it's interspersed with some clips from the film. HR Giger at Work may have been the best supplement in my opinion - 12 minutes of the artist at work building three dimensional models. The Making of Species is about 50 minutes and divided into three sections; The Origin, The Concept and The Discovery. The titles are fairly self-explanatory. Designing a Hybrid talks to the effects guys on how the eventual 'alien' and its various visages were developed for the screen. It is 15 minutes long. There is a 2:30 alternate ending described as being 'found in the MGM vaults' - the scene establishes a deeper relation ship between Press and Laura - it also shows a human counterpoint to the frenetic mating urges of Sil (although seeing a romantic Michael Madsen is nauseating enough to realize why it didn't make the final cut). The original theatrical trailer is included and there is a 1 minute sneak preview of Species 4: The Awakening. Finally about 40 superfluous stills.

Ohhhh, there is a 6-page liner notes flyer with some text on 'creating the monster'.

What can I say except that the new CE is the best. It plays as much like a horror as a sci-fi film and from that point the cheesiness should be more expected... or at least acceptable. I'd say half the film is easily Kingsley, Whitaker and Henstridge's body. At least the price is reasonable for this CE - well, I guess that depends on what you want out of it. I could care less about the extras but I lean towards films like this and its nice to have it in a decent format as the old version was fairly unwatchable on any decent system.      

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 
 

Disc 2 of CE

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Subtitle Sample: Not exact frame

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: MGM Collector's Edition / Blu-ray

 
DVD Box Cover

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM

Region FREE - Blu-ray


 



 

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