The Fly II is plenty gory, but can't hold a fly-swatter to the original
THE FLY II
Directed by Chris Walas.
Starring Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee
Richardson, and John Getz.
Now playing at Cinema 57.
By PETER PARNASSA
THE PREMISE IS INTRIGUING enough: a movie about a "man-fly" growing up. Unfortunately, The Fly II has neither the wit nor the imagination of the film on which it is based. Director Chris Walas (who created the make-up effects for The Fly), seems uncertain of what story he would like to tell and this results in an unsatisfying Friday the 13th-type movie.
The Fly II begins with the birth of Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz) whose father, Seth, was a mutant "man-fly" created in a teleportation experiment gone awry. Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), head of the company that financed Seth's research, adopts the boy. Treated like a laboratory animal, Martin is placed under constant supervision and given frequent physical examinations. He is never told of his father's condition; his case is described as an "accelerated growth" problem.
At the age of five, Martin looks and behaves like a twenty-year-old. Martin has also inherited his father's genius and spends his time in the laboratory since he is not allowed to play with other children.
Eric Stoltz, who portrayed a disfigured youth in Mask, is excellent as Martin Brundle. Stoltz shows how Martin's isolation has left him feeling alienated from other people. Martin both hates being held in captivity and fears meeting new people, a contradiction in Martin's character captured perfectly by Stoltz.
When Bartok assigns him to work on his father's invention, Martin is finally given the freedom he craves. Although he is still not allowed to leave Bartok grounds, Martin is given his own apartment and increased security clearance. Shortly after Martin begins his research, he meets Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga) and begins a relationship with her. Although Martin has the body and intellect of an adult, Stoltz shows the wide-eyed youth who has fallen in love for the first time. However, Martin's mutation soon develops (he begins to turn into a giant fly) and the remainder of the film explores the dynamics of their relationship as Martin's condition worsens.
The problem with The Fly II is that it compels the audience to compare it with the first film, yet it never quite reaches their expectations. The film develops in the same manner as The Fly, exploring the effects of the mutation on the couple, and the film makes constant references to Seth Brundle and his invention, including a videotape of Jeff Goldblum as Seth in The Fly. However, the only comparison that can be made is that The Fly completely outclasses its sequel. Walas and screenwriters Mike Garris, Jim and Ken Wheat, and Frank Darabont are given a wonderful idea to work with, yet they do nothing with it. Instead, they spend their time trying to generate emotions from the audience.
There are sad, scary, and disgusting scenes, but the movie never quite earns them. The Fly evoked emotions because the story and its characters merited them. Special effects were used only when they were vital to the plot, and never just to show off. Unlike Walas, The Fly's director David Cronenberg was careful not to be excessive.
While The Fly II is a disappointment, it is quite possible that the special effects make it worth viewing. Like all other gory horror films, it can be a lot of fun if seen with a rowdy group of friends. However, don't even pretend to see it for its supposed "intellectual" merits.