One of the first things that you will notice about the Fly is that despite the fact that it screams of a b-movie title, the acting is superb. Mad scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) crosses paths with beautiful magazine reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) during a science convention. He hints at the details of his latest invention, saying that it is revolutionary — one that can change the world as we know it. It is revealed that his creation is a teleportation device which could transport inanimate objects in a flash. As expected of a film like this, things do not always turn out well and poor Seth ends up a victim when his own invention backfires.
Silly Plot, Good Story
Presuming that you’re not a Trekkie, the plot may sound a bit thin but somehow the protagonists manage to make everything sound believable. Their performance is enough to convince us that the events in the story really are taking place. It engages the imagination, making us think about the possibilities of such a technology existing. And that’s saying a lot, considering that the film was released way back in 1986.
Now, things get really interesting when Seth takes his invention to the next level. He invites Veronica to witness the demonstration of his “telepod” and she documents his progress every step of the way as he attempts to teleport live subjects. They grow closer in the coming weeks and she bears witness to his numerous failures. After a bust involving a baboon, Seth makes up his mind to test the contraption on himself. Surprise, surprise, a tiny house fly decides to come along for the ride and Seth gets odd “upgrades”. Sounds like an origin story of some super hero, right? Don’t worry, there’s a twist. Sure, Seth gets stronger and more agile but he also becomes meaner and gains a stench to go with his new abilities. Preposterous premise aside, the movie did give us a good look on the insect, learning more details than we could ever possibly want to.
Ahead of Its Time
The film is considered to be pretty edgy and gruesome during the time of its release. Director David Cronenberg has masterfully created the perfect pair of protagonists for us to identify with. It doesn’t really matter what their professions or motivations are, what matters is that they form a believable connection. The film’s excellent character development only makes Seth and Veronica’s situation even more dire as the unfortunate events happen just when you’ve started liking them. It’s utterly sad, in a good way as Cronenberg doesn’t show them the least bit of mercy. Somewhere along the way, the audience is even treated to bits and pieces that point towards a hopeful ending. And just when you start getting convinced that things are looking up, they take a complete turn. Even the supposedly clichéd dream sequence will draw you in, hook, line and sinker. We guarantee it.
As 80’s As It Can Possibly Be
Telltale 1980s fashion and haircuts aside, The Fly can still go toe to toe with recent offerings. The low tech makeup is good enough not to distract even without the help of CG and other modern day tricks. Seeing Seth’s body deteriorate to the point where he starts losing his fingernails and teeth is effective and utterly horrifying. We commend Cronenberg’s use of practical effects. In the hands of anyone less than a master, many scenes would have looked awkward. However, with Cronenberg’s expert-level techniques, Seth’s newfound abilities (such as jumping from one wall to the next) become fascinating to watch. Nothing is perfect, of course, so expect some obvious stunt double swaps.
As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So, although not everything may tickle your fancy, the overall result might just change your mind. The role seems to have been created for Jeff Goldblum as he is just perfect for it. His natural quirks lend something special to the whole insect persona. Geena Davis as Veronica takes the whole damsel in distress-type character to a whole new level, delivering the film’s most memorable line: “be afraid be very afraid”. It is a stellar film, one that is meant to be enjoyed, stored and unearthed later on so you can get terrified all over again.