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The Fly & The Fly II
reviewed by Donald Melanson

October 23 , 2005 | According to the Internet Movie Database, one of the directors originally attached to the 1986 remake of The Fly was a young Tim Burton (with Michael Keaton offered the Seth Brundle role). That would have likely been a very good movie, but The Fly's subject matter seems better suited to David Cronenberg's unique sensibilities than any other director.

The film gave Jeff Goldblum one of the best roles of his career (if not the best) as an eccentric scientist who invents a device capable of teleporting objects from one pod to another. He soon encounters a reporter, played by Geena Davis, who aims to document Brundle's work until he reaches his ultimate goal: teleporting himself.

Brundle eventually succeeds at that goal — or at least he thinks he does, until he discovers that a fly was in the teleportation pod with him, fusing its genetic structure with his, thus beginning his slow metamorphosis into a human/fly hybrid.

But The Fly is far from your ordinary mad-scientist-turned-monster movie. As many others have noted, you could simply replace Goldblum's transformation with a debilitating disease and have a very serious, heart-wrenching movie. As it is, it's a prime example of the depth science fiction and horror movies are capable of.

Fox Home Entertainment has really outdone themselves with their new two-disc special edition of the movie. In addition to a great looking anamorphic transfer and fantastic sound (DTS and Dolby 5.1), the set comes loaded with some of the best supplemental material I've seen outside a Criterion release. The centerpiece is Fear of the Flesh: The Making of the Fly, an outstanding documentary directed by David Prior that covers the making of the film from its earliest stages to its release.

Also included on the disc are a number of deleted scenes, various test footage, a short featurette and, most importantly, a commentary track from Cronenberg himself. As if that weren't enough, there's a ton of reading material as well, including George Langelann's original short story, the original screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue, and Cronenberg's re-written script. Considering this DVD set costs about half the price of most Criterion releases, it's an amazing bargain.

Released on DVD concurrently with The Fly is the disappointing sequel, The Fly II. Cronenberg wisely chose to sit this one out, leaving the directing duties to Chris Walas, who was responsible for the masterful special effects of the first film.

In the world of unneeded science fiction sequels, The Fly II ranks somewhere below 2010 but above, say, Short Circuit 2. It is notable, however, for containing one of the geekiest breakup lines in the history of cinema. Eric Stoltz, after realizing a shocking truth, yells at Daphne Zuniga: "Stay out of my sector! You no longer have clearance."

Amazingly, Fox has turned out an extensive two-disc special edition of the movie for this latest DVD release. The first disc contains the film with a nice anamorphic transfer, as well as a commentary track by Walas and film historian/collector Bob Burns, a deleted scene, an alternate ending, and a series of trailers. Disc two includes an hour-long documentary narrated by Leonard Nimoy that looks at the entire Fly film series, plus a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of The Fly II, as well as various other short featurettes.

Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack and a freelance writer for hire. In addition to Mindjack, his work has appeared in The Globe & Mail, Engadget, and MovieMaker Magazine.

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