Movie Project #23: The Fly [1986]

Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.

The Fly [1986]

The Fly [1986]
Director: David Cronenberg
Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz
Runtime: 96 minutes

David Cronenberg’s The Fly starts off innocently enough as a simple sci-fi story. Jeff Goldblum is Seth Brundle, a reclusive scientist who meets journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) at a networking event. Brundle has been working feverishly on a scientific breakthrough and jumps at the opportunity to show off his work to a pretty lady. Veronica follows him to his home/lab, where she makes the stunning discovery that Seth has a set of “Telepods” — teleportation devices that can transport inanimate objects from one area to another.

Teleporting living creatures is still a work in progress, as his most recent attempt ended up with a baboon bloodily turned inside out. Somehow a spark ignites between Seth and Veronica, and they begin spending more time together. A romantic encounter reinvigorates Seth, and this leads to him figuring out a way to successfully transport living objects.

The Fly [1986]

One night, paranoid that Veronica is hooking back up with her former partner, Stathis Borans (John Getz), Seth gets drunk and decides to test his Telepods on himself — the very first human subject. The teleportation is successful, but there is one small problem (literally) with the test: there was a fly in the tube with Brundle.

It takes some time for the effects to kick in, but Brundle eventually begins turning into a fly. This is when the movie transforms itself from not just sci-fi but to full-blown horror as well.

The Fly [1986]

Parts of Brundle’s body begin falling off. His fingernails. His ears. He starts vomiting profusely. He develops the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. All of this is captured expertly by Cronenberg and his makeup crew, with some disgustingly impressive gore and so-called “body horror” effects. Seriously, this film has a reputation for its graphic special effects, and it does not disappoint at all in this regard. The Fly actually won an Oscar for Best Makeup, and it still holds up remarkably well today.

Underneath the horror and sci-fi elements is a tragic love story between Seth and Veronica, with Stathis finding himself entangled as well in the bizarre happenings. There is a surprising amount of depth to The Fly, and for those who can handle the excessive gore, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Goldblum and Davis are fun to watch together, and the story, while familiar, is a good one. Chalk this one up as my favorite Cronenberg film so far.

8/10

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2011 Movie Mini-Review Roundup: Captain America, A Dangerous Method, Mission Impossible 4, My Week With Marilyn, Young Adult

I am nearly caught up with the movies I wanted to see from last year. Here are some mini-reviews of the handful of 2011 releases I saw in April:

Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]
Captain America: The First Avenger [2011, Joe Johnston]
Captain America’s origin film is pretty much paint-by-numbers superhero fluff. A handful of quality performances, led by Chris Evans as Cap, can’t save this from plodding along and resorting to the same tired action moments. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for the movie or maybe I’m just not the right demographic, but this didn’t do anything for me. A shame, too, because I really enjoyed Iron Man (and to a lesser extent, its sequel). Captain America has made me lose most interest in The Avengers. 5/10

A Dangerous Method [2011]
A Dangerous Method [2011, David Cronenberg]
Students and followers of psychology (particularly psychoanalysis) will get the most out of this disappointing Cronenberg effort. Michael Fassbender was on a roll in 2011 and delivers a strong performance as Carl Jung, as does Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud. The examination of their friendship and mutual respect is intriguing, but the film suffers badly whenever the overacting Keira Knightley is on screen. As such, a potentially interesting subject becomes tedious as the script never really goes anywhere. The highlight of the film is Vincent Cassel’s small role as the cocky, free-wheeling Otto Gross. Again, this film is one perhaps best reserved for psych majors. 6/10

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol [2011]
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol [2011, Brad Bird]
Brad Bird’s live-action debut is a riveting affair with at least one unforgettable scene (climbing on the side of the Burj Dubai is just insane). Tom Cruise proves he still has “it” as secret agent Ethan Hunt, who along with the surprisingly formidable team of Simon Pegg and Paula Patton is sent on a mission to stop a nuclear launch. The villains (led by the unfortunately misused Michael Nyqvist) are a bland and uninspiring bunch, but the movie itself is still a fun ride with plenty of action and cool gadgets. Arguably better than it had any right to be. 7/10

My Week With Marilyn [2011]
My Week With Marilyn [2011, Simon Curtis]
Starry-eyed Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) weasels his way into a movie production job and gets to spend a week on set with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). All of Monroe’s idiosyncrasies are on display here, and the legendary actress is played expertly by the always captivating Williams. The film itself is entertaining enough, but unfortunately starts to dabble in tired cliches during the third act. A solid, albeit forgettable endeavor. 7/10

Young Adult [2011]
Young Adult [2011, Jason Reitman]
Charlize Theron is brilliant as a thirty-something young adult fiction writer who still acts like a teenager. With her main goal being to seduce her ex-boyfriend (who is now happily married with children), she is not exactly the most likable character. Regardless, it is hard to look away from this dark comedy, even as it sometimes gets uncomfortable. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody make a great pair, and this movie is further proof of this. Special mention must be made of Patton Oswalt and Patrick Wilson, both of who deliver strong performances in their supporting roles. One of last year’s more underrated films. 8.5/10

Did you see any of these movies? Did any of them stand out to you?