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The Fly [Jeff Goldblum]

   

The Fly (1986) starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis

The 1986 remake of The Fly is a very different take on the original story. In both, a young scientist transforms himself into a fly hybrid in an experiment gone horribly wrong. Here, Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist attempts to woo investigative journalist Veronica Quaife. How? By offering her a scoop on his latest research in the field of matter transportation. Imagine Star Trek’s transporters working in real life … Which against all the expectations of the scientific establishment works! Up to a point. Brundle thinks he has ironed out the last problem when he successfully transports a living creature. But when he attempts to teleport himself, a fly enters one of the transmission booths … And Brundle finds he is a changed man.

Review

The Fly (1986) is, technically, a remake of the classic horror movie The Fly. But, with very marked differences. In the original story, the audience isn’t sure if the women’s story is real, or something she’s imagined. Here, there’s no question. It’s not a psychological thriller — in that sense, at least.

Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle in The Fly 1986

The basic story is about Seth Brundle. He’s a brilliant, but humble scientist, trying to create the first, practical teleportation device. A female report, Veronica Quaife, is recording the progress. This part of the story takes place over several months, and the two grow closer together. There are failures, and successes. And finally, total success, as Seth manages to teleport himself successfully. And all seems like a smashing success. At first …

However, like in the original story, a fly has gotten into the teleportation device with Seth. Unlike the original, the change happens gradually. Seth’s teleporter has acted as a gene splicer, splicing his DNA with the fly DNA. And he gradually starts changing. Both physically, and psychologically. He starts snapping at Veronica, treating her poorly, and cheating on her with a woman he picks up at a bar.

But then, the transformation starts accelerating, and it’s soon full-blown body horror. He gets further away from his humanity …. And nearly does something horrible to Veronica. I won’t spoil the ending, except to say that it’s tragic.

Pros and Cons

There are some very good things, and some negative things, about The Fly remake. The good:

  • Excellent acting all around.
  • The sets, special effects, etc. all look excellent.
  • The two main characters are likable and the audience roots for them. Until Seth’s transformation, at least.

The bad:

  • I don’t care for the protagonists jumping into bed. Later, after Seth’s transformation, Veronica has a nightmare about being pregnant with a fly embryo.
  • I don’t like the sleazy Tawny. She’s easily picked up in a bar, leaves her boyfriend — with a broken arm, no less — to jump into bed with Seth. Who’s a total stranger.
  • The “villain”, Stathis, is an obnoxious jerk. He’s a two-dimensional character.
  • There’s a lot of gore in the movie. It’s rated “R” for a reason.

Cast

Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis in the 1986 remake of "The Fly"
  • Jeff Goldblum (Thor Ragnarok) … Seth Brundle
  • Geena Davis (A League of their Own) … Veronica Quaife
  • John Getz … Stathis Borans
  • Joy Boushel … Tawny
  • Leslie Carlson … Dr. Cheevers
  • George Chuvalo … Marky
  • Michael Copeman … 2nd Man in Bar
  • David Cronenberg … Gynecologist

Editorial review of The Fly courtesy of Amazon.com

David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of the science fiction classic about a scientist who accidentally swaps body parts with a fly is both smart and terrifying: an allegory for the awful processes of slow death and a monster movie with a tragic spin. Jeff Goldblum gives a masterful performance as a sweet, nerdy scientist whose romance with a writer (Geena Davis) makes him more fully alive. Next thing you know, a tiny oversight in an experiment causes him to transmogrify, gradually, into something more like an insect than a human. This is Cronenberg (Scanners, Videodrome) country, so expect The Fly to be a gross-out, but in the way that disease corrupts the body and can make a loved one unrecognizable on every level. This is one of Cronenberg’s best films, and certainly one of the important movies of the 1980s. –Tom Keogh

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