7 August 2005 | cchase
Who Said "History Never Repeats?"
Yep, the same studio that made the original classic "The Fly" from the late Fifties decided that it was time to revisit the franchise a few decades later. But this sequel to the far superior David Cronenberg re-visitation is not so much a vehicle for its grade-B cast, as it is a showcase for its new director, special effects wiz Chris Walas. To his credit, he knew that this was his opportunity to go bananas, and that's exactly what he did.
Eric Stoltz is given the unenviable task of picking up where Jeff Goldblum left off, as the equally hapless son of the Seth Brundle character. Geena Davis wisely took a time-out, so a lookalike actress takes her place as Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife, who conveniently gets to die in the first few minutes, in a childbirth sequence that may make anything in the "Alien" series pale by comparison.
As ooky and icky as Cronenberg's bodily mutation-horror point of view was in the previous outing, Walas takes those cues to the 'nth' degree here, so those who are animal lovers or possessing delicate stomachs are hereby given fair warning: this is NOT a pretty picture.
Cinephiles who have wasted oceans of print criticizing THE FLY II should take note: the notices were equally severe all those years ago for RETURN OF THE FLY, when Fox tried to cash in then on the predecessor that had such a great pedigree. That cast included Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Patricia Medina and Al (David) Hedison.
With the new-fangled model starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, didn't anyone get even a hint of "deja vu all over again?" C'est la vie. The only person sticking around (pun intended) from the "new original" is John Getz as the unfortunate bastard Stathis Borans, and to his credit, he played it with deadpan perfection, not to mention that his character is given the sequel's best dialogue. In other words, it's pretty obvious from the way he played things that Getz "gets" it.
Even if Stoltz and the non-descript Daphne Zuniga had been up to the task of overcoming the FX bombast on display (which they obviously weren't), the producers, writers and director weren't out to surpass the last episode in quality, as much as in the queaze quotient. Only Lee Richardson as Anton Bartok, the wicked, narrow-minded industrialist bent on exploiting the late Dr. Brundle's experiments to the max, does his job admirably well. You love to hate him on first sight, and the fact that he delivers the goods makes the gruesome fate his character suffers that much more satisfying.
So, in closing, let's sum up the main points here: for classic terror and the not-so classic follow up, go back to the Fifties original and its progeny. For modern-day mayhem and mounds of moldering makeup effects, go to the creepy Cronenberg version, then do not pass go, skip lunch and try this ordeal of offal on for size. You will be grossed-out, guaranteed, and popcorn is definitely optional, skipping the extra butter, of course.