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20th Century Fox presents
The Fly II: Collector's Edition (1989)

"I'm getting...better."
- Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 03, 2005

Stars: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga
Other Stars: John Getz, Lee Richardson, Matthew Moore, Harley Cross, Saffron Henderson
Director: Chris Walas

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: R for (gore, horror violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:44m:31s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Nothing usually kills a party quicker than slapping a "II" or a "III" on a film, especially in the horror genre, where loose, sloppy sequels have been the order of the day since the beginning of time. With the moderate success of David Cronenberg's The Fly in 1986, it took three years for this sequel to get uncorked from first-time director Chris Walas, a man who up to that point had earned his street cred designing outstanding makeup effects (The Fly, Enemy Mine, Gremlins, Raiders of the Lost Ark).

The screenplay, cobbled together from the likes of talented storytellers like Mick Garris and Frank Darabont, carries on after the events of the Cronenberg film, with a pregnant Veronica (here played by Saffron Henderson instead of Geena Davis) giving birth to a new fly-imbued, fast-growing Brundle offspring named Martin, eventually played as an adult by Eric Stoltz. Under the watchful eye of apparently evil Bartok Industries, the telepod experiments continue, but since Martin is a chip off the old block, it isn't long before those ugly fly tendencies start showing themselves, along with yet another ill-fated Brundle romance, this time with Beth (Daphne Zuniga). John Getz serves as the only link from the 1986 film, reprising his role as jealous editor Stathis Borans, though he is usurped as heavy by John Richardson as the head of Bartok Industries.

All the best intentions can't prevent this from being anything more than a retread, designed specifically to showcase some nice-looking fly effects. The doomed scientist storyline here is just an excuse for horror violence, and while on any given day that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it only serves to distance this film from its more structured predecessor. Walas isn't really to blame, diligently working as he was under a paint-by-numbers screenplay that gave him a series of scenes, rather than a full story. The finished product looks and sounds like a horror film should, but as with so many other genre titles, it just seems empty.

It would be easy to beat up Walas' film as a junky sequel, and while it isn't the greatest horror film ever made, the makeup effects are quite good, making this appealing to take a gander at for fans of gory horror. The sentimental undertones that Cronenberg managed to construct are absent here, so The Fly II has to rely solely on effects-laden visuals to make some kind of emotional mark.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There's a nice, unassuming 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer here, one still marred by some minor grain issues, that nonetheless looks decent. Colors are not quite as vibrant as they seemingly could have been, but black levels are strong, revealing a fair amount of detail in the new Brundle lab. There are no significant compression issues evident here, and the print itself is quite clean, so things here are better than they could have been.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: A new DTS track has been added for this release, and it appears alongside a Dolby Digital 5.1 option as well, though it is the same 5.1 mix that appeared on an earlier release. Both are suitable without being exemplary, and it is the score that comes out on top, sounding punchier and more expansive than the rest of the presentation. Rear speaker effects are on the broad scale, and it does add some depth, but the film is focused on spreading the action across the front channels. Dialogue clarity is never a problem.

A French stereo and Spanish 2.0 surround track are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Fly, The Fly, The Return of the Fly, Alien, The Omen
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Chris Walas, Bob Burns
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills Gallery
Extras Review: Not quite as essential as Cronenberg's version, but the extras here seem almost as plentiful, though not quite as strong. Disc one starts with a pleasant commentary from director Chris Walas and archivist/historian Bob Burns, the man with the staggering collection of horror/sci-fi movie memorabilia. Walas keeps the narrative moving along, with Burns chiming in periodically, and though this isn't a stellar film, the track has enough background facts to merit a casual listen.

There is also a brief Deleted Scene (01m:33s) featuring Daphne Zuniga and a payphone, as well as an Alternate Ending (01m:10s), and assorted Fly-related trailers, and one each for Alien and The Omen.

Disc 2 is split into Documentaries, Featurettes, Storyboard-To-Film-Comparisons, Trailers and Stills Gallery. The best part is under Documentaries, with the all-new Transformations: Looking Back At The Fly II (48m:29s)—a well-heeled look study of the production—and The Fly Papers: The Buzz On Hollywood's Scariest Insect (57m:36s), a piece that covers the entire "Fly genre", originally shown on American Movie Classics and narrated by Leonard Nimoy.

Featurettes carries a dull 1989 Theatrical EPK (05m:10s), a CWI Video Production Journal (18m:11s) where we learn the fundamentals of building mechanical effects such as a "pregnant rig", and Composer's Master Class: Christopher Young (12m:44s) in which the challenges of music design get briefly discussed.

Storyboard-To-Film Comparisons takes three sequences—Opening Sequence (03m:01s), Bartok (02m:35s), Ending (01m:34s)—and provides side-by-sides between drawings and final product, available with optional Chris Walas commentary.

The Trailers section has a couple of previews for the film, and the nicely stocked Stills Gallery is busted into Production Photos, Art of The Fly II and Storyboards.

The feature is cut into 24 chapters, and features optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

This is a pale companion to the Cronenberg film, and as a sequel tends to follow the usual cookie-cutter structure for the genre. It relies more on gore than story to carry itself, but despite an absence of anything particularly new, it is fun to look at, if empty in the head.

The budget-priced nature of this two-disc Fox release increases the necessity of completing your Fly collection, and there are enough extras here to give you material to peruse long after you've watched the film.


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