The Fly II (1989)

Something Odd is Happening to Me and I Don’t Know What It Is

I was looking through my older reviews today when I realized that I had unfinished business to take care of. Nearly a month ago I reviewed a movie that was a remake of a movie I reviewed a few days later, but I neglected to review the sequel to the remake that came out three years later. Though the original movie didn’t resonate with me, I somewhat liked the 1986 remake, so it stands to reason that I should also review the sequel, but I didn’t want to do too many of the same kind of movie in a row. The days I put it off led me to forget about it until I saw my original review and was reminded of my duty. And so I bring you my review of The Fly II, written by Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, and Frank Darabont, directed by Chris Walas, and starring Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, John Getz, Frank C. Turner, Ann Marie Lee, Gary Chalk, Harley Cross, and Jeff Goldblum.

The biggest loose end left by the first movie was the pregnancy of Veronica Quaife by Seth Brundle before he became the gruesome fly creature that he died as. They tie up that umbilical cord by having her give birth at the beginning of the movie and quickly die. That’ll take care of that pesky inability to get their actors to return for the sequel! The baby is named Martin and is not the most usual child there is: he ages faster, doesn’t sleep, and has a photographic memory. Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson) takes the boy in to study him at Bartok Industries. At age five, he already looks like a 20 year old man. For his birthday, Bartok gives him his own bungalow to sleep in and the opportunity to continue his father’s work on the Telepods he had been working on. Martin gets to work on them and thinks he has a breakthrough, but wants to try it out on some living organism. He finds a cactus belonging to another Bartok employee named Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga), and the two become friends, and later more than just friends. But, since Martin has reached maturity, his father’s dormant genes start to take effect and he starts changing.

I can’t say I took a liking to this movie. It drags in the beginning and ends in a really goofy way. So much of the early part of this movie is just about watching Martin grow up and the early stages of his relationship with Beth. That’s definitely what I want out of my sci-fi horror movies. It doesn’t start becoming science fiction until about halfway into the movie when he starts degenerating into a fly. It sticks with that until about ten minutes from the end when it tries to become a horror movie, but it gets itself up to slasher film at best. None of the story really made much of an impact on me. It seems as if Bartok has lost the motivation for the development of the Telepods. They made sense as a super-fast means of conveyance, but Bartok tells Martin that he wants these things developed for how they’ll help surgery by making it so we won’t have to cut people open anymore. I realize they deconstruct and reconstruct matter, but they still don’t make much sense to me as a surgery assistant. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be saying that the only way to separate Martin from his fly genes is to sacrifice another person. They do other things to try to satisfy fans of the previous movies, like having John Getz come back in the movie. But when he says that the situation cost him “an arm and a leg” because he had those disintegrated by Brundlefly in the first movie, it caused me severe pain in my gonads with the corniness of the joke. After Martin has turned into a vaguely fly-like creature, Bartok starts ordering all of his security personnel to capture Martin instead of killing him because he needs to study him. They react to these orders by immediately grabbing machine guns, even as an announcement is blaring through the building that it’s to be captured and not killed. I understand because of the danger involved. Even though the Fly is really flimsy and slow-moving, it can spit acid that will melt someone’s entire face right off … or give you an irritating chemical burn on the top of your hand. Not sure how it decides which one to use when. And, after all of that, they go for a really stupid, cheesy, “happy” ending. Everything works out well for our intrepid heroes at the end of the movie. I’m sure they probably felt like the ending of the first movie (where everyone seemed either dead or wishing they were) was too depressing, so they had to make this one end well for the heroes, no matter how stupid or corny it is.

Three years of technological advancement did nothing for the look of this movie. Some things looked better, some things looked much worse. The dog creature that resulted from it getting turned inside out was much less convincing than the baboon from the first movie, and just looked goofy when they made the mistake of showing the whole body. And what made it worse was that it didn’t make sense. How would the dog still be alive if it was turned inside out? The baboon died. That’s what happens to creatures when they’re turned inside out. Speaking of dogs, the dog that the guards sicced on the fly creature was never trained to act like he wanted to kill something. When it saw the Fly, it barked but still clearly looked happy and playful. The fly did cause some good violence near the end of the movie, but I was already far too bored to be brought back around by this point. When the Fly vomits on the guys face, the melting was about a midway point between the face-peeling scene in Poltergeist and the face-melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was pretty cool. The scene where the guy got his head crushed by the elevator was also pretty brutal, but not nearly as convincing, unless I’m unaware of the fact that the human head is a thin crust of skin filled with blood like a blood-filled water balloon.

I also can’t say I liked any of the performances in this movie. Eric Stoltz was the only one that did anything that I liked. For the majority of the movie, he just came off as annoyingly naïve and wooden. The part of what he did that impressed me was when he was starting to turn into the Fly. At first, he was just acting really weak and running goofy, like an old man. But right before he was going to go into a cocoon, he seemed like a completely different person. He was really kind of dark and malevolent. If this was indeed him still, it was a pretty drastic change in performance. Daphne Zuniga didn’t do anything that impressed me, but she did capture my attention. Granted, that was almost completely because I was trying to figure out where I recognized her from. When I realized she was Princess Vespa in Spaceballs, I lost interest in her again. At least until she had sex with Eric Stoltz. My problem with this was that, even though he appeared to be a 20 year old guy, let us not forget that he was actually only 5 years old when they had sex. That makes you a pedophile, Zuniga!

If I was too vague by saying I didn’t like most of this movie by talking about not liking its individual parts, let me be more clear by saying this is not a good movie. It is, however, the sequel to a good movie. This movie spends the majority of the movie being really boring, only getting interesting in the last half hour of the movie, and even then not being that interesting. Most of the special effects looked cheesy, and most of the performances were more cheesy. But none more cheesy than the ending of the movie. That takes the cheese. You can skip this movie, even though it’s available to stream on Netflix at your convenience. The Fly II gets “You can’t walk … and you’re getting worse” out of “Oh my God!  There’s something wrong!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Fly (1986)

Am I Becoming a 185-Pound Fly?

Today’s movie is considered a classic.  Or, perhaps more accurately, a remake of a classic that then became a classic itself.  But, it’s also a movie I have never seen.  I find that I missed out on a great many classic movies because there was violence in it and my mother was hemophobic.  No, my mom doesn’t hate gays and I hit the wrong button from time to time.  My mom always claimed that she faints at the sight of blood because she is so afraid of it.  I’ve seen her do it a time or two in my lifetime.  And since she was my mother and necessary to get into rated R movies, I missed out on some classic movies just because of violence.  I’m trying to rectify that in my adulthood, but remembering all of the movies that I need to see can be difficult.  Friends of mine had to remind me to finally watch Jaws a few years back, and I loved it.  And when I saw today’s movie was available on Netflix streaming, I felt like it was time to get this classic horror/science fiction movie under my belt.  This movie is The Fly, written by Charles Edward Pogue, written and directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, and Les Carlson.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) lures a vaguely pretty girl named Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) back to his warehouse with the promise that he has invented something that will change the world.  When they get there, Brundle shows Veronica that he’s invented a teleportation machine, currently capable of teleporting inanimate material from one pod to another in the same room, but that’s still an accomplishment.  Veronica turns out to be a journalist and is going to break the story until Brundle suggests that she wait until he’s able to transport living material, and he’ll let her record the process so that she can do more than just write a measly article about it.  They try to teleport a baboon, but it gets turned inside out and was none too happy about it.  Brundle and Veronica start developing a relationship, probably to make up for the relationship he just lost with the baboon.  Over pillow talk, Veronica says something that helps Brundle figure out how to transport living material, and he successfully does so.  When something leads Veronica to go talk to her editor and former lover, Stathis Borans (John Getz), Brundle starts to get jealous and drunk simultaneously.  In his inebriation, he decides it’s time to try this mamma jamma out on himself.  Unbeknownst to him, a fly gets into the telepod with him, but doesn’t get out the other side when he does.  He starts to notice changes in himself after this, all of them positive at first.  He concludes that the machine purified him of any imperfections, but Veronica starts to think something else is going on.

This was a pretty cool movie, and I think it holds up pretty well.  The story is a cool idea, though I think they took the main part of it from the original movie.  The basic premise of the teleporter mashing up a guy with a fly was taken from the original, but I’m fairly sure the bulk of the movie was original.  At first, the story comes off like they’re remaking Spiderman and telling his origin story.  He becomes stronger and more agile, and even gets more virile in the bedroom.  So what if he has a couple of gross hairs growing out of his back?  This guy fucks like a champ!  I got confused by some of this stuff because it’s not something I’d normally associate with a common household fly.  I know that they digest their food by vomiting on it and drinking the liquid.  I don’t know that the stuff could melt through a human hand in a matter of seconds, but it’s based enough in logic for me.  And they can also climb walls.  I’ve seen them do that.  I guess you could even call them agile because they fly.  But what makes them super strong and really good at fucking?  Every time I’ve watched flies have sex (and it’s happened more than once), it’s usually over pretty quickly.  And why does he never develop wings and nothing ever comes from his eyes being split into sections?  I think it’s arguable that flies are super strong, but I’m pretty sure it’s inarguable that flies can fly.  But then it starts turning sour as he starts resenting that Veronica won’t go through the machine and become more awesome like him, and his transformation starts getting worse and worse.  I found myself wondering how he wasn’t able to fix himself when he finally decided that he wanted to.  He was able to get the machine to tell him that he was combined with a fly, and it seemed to know which one was which.  I don’t know why he couldn’t just tell the computer to remember what Brundle was and what the fly was and just reassemble me with slightly less fly.  Though it takes some time to get there, the movie turns into a pretty good horror and science fiction movie by the end.  I thought it was weird that they kept throwing in new plot twists up until about 10 minutes from the end of the movie.  Usually you get all of that stuff out of the way by act two and then act three is all wrap up, but it worked out okay.  The look really holds up in this movie too, which made me even more surprised to see that it came out in 1986.  The teleportation effects were cool, the fly transformation was icky but convincing, and even the computer stuff was not horribly dated.  I had a couple more thoughts, but they require  ::SPOILER ALERT::  I did, however, take issue with the fact that Veronica was actually unsure about getting an abortion.  Fer reals?  You’re seriously thinking about giving birth to something with fly DNA?  How are you going to explain that to people?  I understand that abortion is a big issue and some people are completely against it, but I feel like those same people would be more malleable if the baby would most likely not be human.  And how does Brundle reach the conclusion that the best solution for everyone’s troubles is to fuse himself with Veronica and his unborn child?  Fusing has not worked out very well for you so far and, if their consciousness remains at all, I’m pretty sure one of the worst things you could do with yourself is force a woman to do something that means she’ll be able to nag you from inside your brain for the rest of your ungodly life.  ::END SPOILERS::

I liked pretty much every performance in this movie, which was easy because there are really only three people with significant enough parts to warrant a mention.  Jeff Goldblum was pretty great.  He starts off the movie acting like … well … like Jeff Goldblum.  You know the way.  The way he acts in almost every movie.  But his performance does change pretty drastically as he starts turning into Brundlefly.  At first it makes him a dick, then it makes him a little bit scary, then it makes him frail, and then he ends up a lotta bit scary.  Geena Davis did a fine job, but didn’t really blow my mind or anything.  John Getz sets himself as a super scummy dude really quickly and I hated him for the first 90% of the movie, but then he takes a strange turn to be almost heroic in the end of the movie.  I guess that could be held in contrast to Goldblum’s character.

Though I was late in doing so, I was happy to finally get to The Fly.  I really liked the story, I thought it made a pretty interesting horror and sci-fi movie, it looked much better than I would’ve expected from the time, and I liked the greater majority of the performances.  It’s definitely a cool enough movie that everyone should give it a shot.  Especially since you can stream it on Netflix right now.  The Fly gets “Are you some sort of magician?” out of “The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.