The Fly (1986) Review

Jeff Goldblum makes the 1986 remake of the 1958 chiller The Fly a bona-fide science fiction classic. In terms of ‘80s horror, along with The Thing, The Fly may rank as one of the top sci-fi/horror films of the decade.

David Cronenberg’s doesn’t make the same mistakes of the original. His update creates characters, people the audience can instantly care for and relate to. The rapid set-up details a budding romance between Geena Davis and Goldblum that carries the narrative through to the surprisingly emotional finale.

The original Fly, and the short story it was based on, are still a part of this remake. The concept still revolves around a scientist dealing with transportation, and when an experiment on himself goes awry, he slowly becomes the title creature.

Instead of the undoubtedly corny yet iconic design of the original, Goldblum’s transformation is subtle. It’s slow, working on his body, his mind, and eventually his entire person. His romance with Davis becomes critical to his change, allowing the audience to see his pain and madness as the transformation engulfs him. Goldblum captures this flawlessly.

The full reveal makes you yearn for the special effects of yesteryear. The traditional make-up and suit effects are gruesome. As Golblum’s skin begins peeling off for the final stage of the metamorphosis, it’s terrifying, effective, and Oscar nominated for those reasons.

The Fly also deals with questions of humanity, life, and more. It’s something well made science fiction is capable of, the category ’86 Fly falls into. While the themes are there in the original, it felt more concerned with the clichés of the era than any deeper message, and it’s a difference that propels this remake above the reference material.

Movie ★★★★★ 

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Fox releases a mid-range Blu-ray release for this ‘80s classic. The transfers problems are immediately apparent. It’s soft, flat, and detail is weak. The high end contrast never reaches a peak, and while the black levels are solid throughout, they’re not enough to compensate to create depth. Flesh tones are slightly pasty, and most of the colors are muted. Even the push from reds and blues are unimpressive.

There is a brief moment of superb detail, one minute past the hour mark, on a close-up of Jeff Goldblum. It’s a shame the entire movie can’t look like that.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

Despite some surprising fidelity, the source for this DTS-HD encode isn’t made for hi-def. There are brief moments of surround use, including lights kicking on for the first time to reveal the lab, and the transport pods kicking up when they start working. Some minor positional work in the stereo channels is apparent. There’s not a lot going on here despite being adequate.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

An exhaustive set of extras are carried over from a two-disc DVD edition. A commentary from David Cronenberg is first, though you’ll be better served by the incredibly long documentary Fear of the Flesh. Clocking in at 46 minutes longer than the movie itself, there’s nothing left to the imagination, for better or worse. There’s even more content if you choose the enhanced mode, which offers additional features when prompted.

Brundle Museum of Natural History takes a trip to collector Bob Burns’ house to view props from the film. Deleted and extended scenes contain an alternate ending, and some fun film tests are worth a watch. A stack of articles, scripts, and other text documents are included if you ever want to stare at your TV long enough to read them.

A pop-up trivia track provides a lot of information you can find elsewhere on the disc. Aside from trailers, the absolutely ridiculous Fly Zapper game actually dumbs down the quality of the extras. A gigantic chunk of the screen is taken up by an interface to service a fly swatting game while you watch the movie. Who uses this stuff?

Extras ★★★★★ 

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  • Koroshiya1

    Together with ‘Videodrome’ Cronenberg’s best work. The original movie is pretty fun too.