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Species: Special Edition

Combining an intriguing sci-fi set-up with a T&A sensibility, 1995's Species was never going to net any Oscars, but as a guilty pleasure it's a definite award winner. Sil (Natasha Henstridge) was hatched by SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) when they received a friendly message from outer space, but the message was meant to develop a killer organism to take over the world. On the trail of the escaped project are experts: Preston Lennox (Michael Madsen) is the muscle, Dan Smithson (Forrest Whitaker) is an empath, Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberg) is a molecular biologist, Dr. Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina) is a master of cross-cultural behavior, and they're all headed up by SETI's Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) in an attempt to stop Sil before she begins breeding and wreaking havoc. As she is chased around Los Angeles, Sil begins to learn about the culture and uses her predatory instincts within the dating scene. After all, Sil has a deadly weapon to use against the men of the world — she's smoking hot and raring to get laid. Directed by Roger Donaldson, Species moves at a quick enough pace to let the story's numerous plot-holes breeze past (Sil develops her knowledge of American culture at such a fast clip it borders on the preposterous), while the cast more than makes up for the shortcomings of the early CGI effects. Michael Madsen is a steadfast B-movie lead, and he's never less than compelling here, while Forrest Whitaker and Alfred Molina are equally reliable supporting fodder. This was Natasha Henstridge's cinematic debut — as a model, she's used convincingly as a woman heterosexual men would to want to have sex with, while her alien side was conceived and executed by Alien maestro H.R. Giger. His design work is vaguely similar to that earlier film, though Giger's sexual predilections get even more play in this than in the Ridley Scott effort. Species almost becomes a classic of its kind with its sexual politicking and analysis of the dating scene; there are some clever gags about a female's predatory instinct towards the man she wants, but it never amounts to much of a thesis — more of a clever afterthought. MGM double dips the film in tandem with the release of 2004's Species III in a new special edition that presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio. For extras there are two audio commentaries, the first with director Donaldson and actors Michael Madsen and Natasha Henstridge, while the second has Donaldson, producer Frank Mancuso Jr., visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund and creature and special make-up effects creator Steve Johnson. Also included are a sneak-peek at Species III and the theatrical trailer, along with other bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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