Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review: The Fly II (1989)

David Cronenberg's The Fly is one impossible act to follow. It's a classic with a flawless script, incredible acting, tight pacing, amazing practical FX, and a haunting tragic score (the music at the end is so far beyond brilliant, it makes ninjas explode out of my face). Yeah, it's that good.

So how does the sequel measure up? Obviously, it's going to take a beating. Could anybody top the original? Besides Cronenberg himself? I doubt it, but you know what I actually love The Fly II. It's not perfect, but it has a certain 80s charm to it. And Daphne Zuniga is a large part of that. She plays her role with ease and makes the love story believable. It's not hard to see why someone would fall for her. Everyone likes to rag on Eric Stoltz, but I think he does a good job in this, and the villains of Bartok Industries are pitch perfect. Of course, Lee Richardson does a stellar job as the evil head honcho, switching from a sweet surrogate father to a greedy heartless bastard in no time. I never see Gary Chalk get any credit, but he's absolutely fantastic as Anton's second-in-command. I love his death scene and especially the moment right before when he gives his boss a crazed pissed-off look as he reloads his gun. It's a one-dimensional part (and it had to be), but he nails it.

I much prefer the design of the Brundle Fly in the first film, but the monster in the second one is a lot of fun, and it has a lot more screen time, which means it's that much harder to pull off. It works though and seeing it melt faces off guards is another highlight of the movie. Ok, onto the story. An early treatment for the sequel had Seth's consciousness surviving in a Telepod computer with Bartok scientists enslaving him to develop the system for cloning purposes! WTF! That sounds a little nuts. Then again Cronenberg endorsed it at the time so maybe it would've been good. Who knows. But what do we get? Seth's son growing up inside Bartok trying to figure out his father's work so he can cure himself. With a love story and a betrayal. A much more classic monster movie, and I'm always a fan of those. And of course, the dog. Sure, the little mutated critter might be cheap, but the dog gets me every time. And it makes you hate Anton. It works. Frank Darabont worked on the script. No wonder it's good even if other cooks messed with the recipe.

The directing is solid. No shaky cam. Again, it's not Cronenberg (and I do love my Cronenberg... Scanners anyone? The Dead Zone?), but it's well done and clear. The music by Christopher Young (Hellraiser) also fits the feel of this film. It's a little more light than Howard Shore's phenomenal work (damn, I love that score), but it's good.

The Fly II is worth your time and then some. I love it, and I wish they'd make more monster movies like it (and definitely a helluva lot more like the original, but Cronenberg is Cronenberg, which is what makes the first so extraordinary).

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