Synopsis: Beneath his ordinary exterior, Martin (Eric Stoltz) is the most extraordinary person alive. Though only five years old, he is a fully matured adult. And he is also the son of a human fly! Now it is only a matter of time before his mutated genes waken from their dormant state. Jam-packed with incredible special effects, THE FLY 2 is an unforgettable sequel, just as riveting and terrifying as the original.
The Fly II 6.5
eyelights: Eric Stoltz. its logical follow-up story.
eyesores: its crappy puppet work. its extremely dated make-up effects. its static quality.
“Something odd is happening to me and I don’t know what it is.”
Following the monstrous box office and critical success of David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly‘, unsurprisingly, 20th Century Fox wanted more of it. Unfortunately, they couldn’t secure the involvement of the original director or its stars.
But they forged ahead with a sequel anyway.
In 1989 came ‘The Fly II’, a direct follow-up to the original: it follows Seth Brundle’s son Martin’s advanced psychological and physical development under the care of Bartok Industries, who own the telepod technology.
Unfortunately, they’re unable to make it work, as some of the data was lost with Seth’s passing, but they eventually convince Martin to carry on his father’s work. With his increased intellect, he soon makes the machine work.
But tragedy awaits.
The strength of ‘The Fly II’ lies in its script; though the picture itself lacks punch, the sequel does a decent job of following-up up its predecessor, incorporating its various elements and tying up some loose ends. On paper, it’s good.
Not perfect, but good.
It’s hardly surprising: two of its key contributors were Frank Darabont and Mick Garris, who were only then getting started but who would soon be tied to some of the most renowned Stephen King adaptations of the 1990s and 2000s.
Unfortunately, the picture has a lackluster vibe that reeks of second-tier filmmaking. Was it because it was made on a low budget? Or is it due to the fact that its first-time director, Chris Walas, was originally a special effects artist?
Who knows, but what’s dumbfounding is that, though it tries to develop its characters and dynamics (usually a rarity for horror films, and a welcome effort), it falls a bit flat. One isn’t all that interested in anyone except for Martin.
And even there.
The thing is, as fascinating a character as he can be (super-genius, growing unnaturally quickly, slightly superhuman) his fate seems predestined, so there aren’t any true surprises in store. He feels very “been there, done that”.
Eric Stoltz is perfectly likeable in the part and his performance is believable, but he doesn’t have the charisma required to support the film on his lone shoulders; he would have needed the supporting players to be mildly magnetic.
Sadly, Daphne Zunega is a tad bland here as his girlfriend and Lee Richardson comes off more as a caricature as the father figure and villain of the piece, leaving Stoltz stranded. Again, he’s excellent, but he didn’t quite have the magic.
Still, he’s the highlight of the picture.
Surprisingly, for a picture directed by a former special effects and make-up artist, ‘The Fly II’ doesn’t exactly dazzle with its effects: the freak dog looked like a hunk of garbage, Stoltz’s mutant make-up is better left in the shadows, …etc.
It’s simply not convincing.
Having said that, the corporate complex and the set design (i.e. the telepod set-up) are pretty good; bleak though they may be, one is properly immersed in the impersonal, nearly glacial, climate. It’s realistic, for good or bad.
The technology, however, doesn’t seem as credible.
For instance, there’s the film’s naive view of computers, which can easily respond to questions that users enter and even propose alternate options. Yep, in the ’80s, computers were magic. They had all the answers; you just had to ask.
In any event, at its core, there’s the tale of a child genius who’s spent most of his years in captivity, under observation, and who decides to crack the secrets of his father’s work. It’s not quite ‘Ender’s Game’, but it’s still compelling.
Honestly, I really want to like ‘The Fly II’ more than I do. I think that it could have been an excellent film; it could have been the perfect continuation to the original. Sadly, it’s boring as !@#$ even though it’s got a lot going for it.
Frankly, I’d love to see a remake of this one someday; a few tweaks wouldn’t do it any harm. There’s constant rumours of a remaking of the Cronenberg film, so perhaps its sequel might someday get the chance to be all it could have been.
Post scriptum: Since the picture has nothing to do with flies whatsoever, aside for its connection to the original (which did), it probably should have been called ‘Son of the Fly’ instead of ‘The Fly II’. But, you know… marketing.
Date of viewing: July 31, 2017