Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring||Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Les Carlson|
|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
In this remake of the 1958 classic, gory special effects take the place of off-camera suggestion; the researcher and a fly are merged into one being instead of just exchanging body parts; and the transformation is gradual rather than instantaneous.
Eccentric researcher Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) picks up reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) at a science-related social, takes her home and (in place of etchings?) shows her his telepods (matter transportation devices), which she skeptically persists in calling “designer phone booths.” Besides the three current-model telepods, Brundle points out a prototype model as well. Seth and Veronica eventually become lovers; but it’s a rocky relationship, with trouble from her jilted boyfriend as well as from the physical and personality changes that Seth begins to experience after he’s unknowingly merged with a fly while teleporting himself. If this film needed to be made (which is debatable), Goldblum’s flaky screen persona is perfect for the role.
There’s some profanity; there’s also on-screen implied sex between Seth and Veronica (for what it’s worth, Goldblum and Davis were married in real life at the time), but discreet camera angles are used for those sequences as well as for the teleportations (always done nude). After Seth becomes “brundlefly” (his intelligent computer’s name for the merged being), there’s a scene where he goes to a bar and gets in an arm-wrestling contest over a woman, using his fly strength to give his opponent a compound fracture. When Veronica discovers that she’s pregnant by Seth and that it might have happened after he became “brundlefly,” she and her old boyfriend start to seek an abortion, but Seth talks her out of it (thus “pro-life” is linked with “abnormal”). Eventually, Seth becomes deranged, using his flesh-dissolving fly vomit as a weapon and unsuccessfully trying to use the telepods for a new purpose. The makeup in the final stages of Seth’s transformation is grotesque, but it won the effects crew an Oscar. The “less is more” filmmaking techniques of the ’50s have been replaced by “more is more.”
As in the original, the audience is made to wonder whether a part-man, part-fly monster should be considered human or not; but since teleportation technology doesn’t really exist, it’s a meaningless question. This film should be regarded only as pseudo-scientific escapist entertainment.