REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

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JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

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The latest installment of the franchise takes place three years after the disastrous opening of Jurassic World. A volcano on Isla Nublar has become dangerously active and the U.S. government declines to save the animals still there. John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) asks Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to join a rescue mission to save the dinosaurs from the doomed island and to convince her ex-boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join them. Once on the island Claire, Owen and their team are betrayed and they discover that this “rescue mission” has a far more sinister purpose.

Fallen Kingdom is directed by J.A. Bayona, the Spanish filmmaker behind the atmospheric and spooky haunted house flick The Orphanage and the bittersweet fantasy A Monster Calls. His script is by previous installment director Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connor, who co-wrote the last one, as well. The result is a more Gothic feel to the proceedings, especially when the location switches to Lockwood’s old mansion with genetics lab and creature holding cells in the basement a la Dr. Frankenstein. From here It becomes a tale of man’s greed and trying to play god…again. The Indominous Rex taught these greedy corporate types nothing and now we have the genetically created dino-soldier the Indoraptor to serve as our predator of choice for this flick. After the escape from the burning island…which is a very entertaining set-piece in itself, the flick becomes more of a James Bond movie with dinosaurs. The second third finds Claire and Owen sneaking around the castle-like mansion with Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), trying to find a way to stop the sale of and genetic tampering with the last survivors of Isla Nublar. It’s not quite as fun as the last flick, but at least they are trying to take the series in a new direction and we actually get off the island. The last act has the skilled director Bayona going back to his haunted house roots with a cat and mouse chase through the dark and cavernous mansion between our heroes and the Indoraptor, with a very exciting and very Gothic rooftop finale. Overall it is an entertaining flick, though a bit darker, a bit more violent and somewhat less fun than Jurassic World.

The cast is fine, even if the bad guys are complete two-dimensional stereotypes. Pratt and Howard still have that chemistry as Owen and Claire and having them broken-up gives us a chance to experience their combative banter and then having them fall for each other all over again. Young Isabella Sermon is endearing as Maisie, Lockwood’s young granddaughter with some secrets of her own. Rafe Spall, Ted Levine and Toby Jones are the trio of bad guys as Lockwood’s conniving assistant, a soldier for hire and a black market dinosaur dealer respectively. While the characters are familiar and stale, the actors give it their best. Cromwell is charming as the elder Lockwood, who is having his dream corrupted right out from under him. Rounding out the main characters are Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda playing Claire’s IT tech Franklin and dinosaur veterinarian Zia, respectively and they are fun characters well portrayed. We also get a nice cameo with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm and B.D. Wong returns as slimy Dr. Wu. A good cast though some characters are better written than others.

Jurassic World gave this series a bit of revived energy and while this installment is a bit less fun, it does take the series to some new places and Bayona gives it a darker and more Gothic tone, as well as, his trademark visual artistry. On the negative side, the whole predator du jour chasing our heroes is getting stale, as is genetically whipping up new creatures like ordering a pizza. The dinosaur auction was interesting, but one wonders where the authorities stand on black market dinosaur flea markets. Guess it’s too soon to approach that side of the story. It was fun to see Clair and Owen and company playing James Bond in this massive Victorian Mansion, as we also enjoyed the film leaving us at a point where we wonder if mankind’s meddling might get us slapped back to the stone age. Stay through the credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

  Rated 3 T-Rex

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REVIEW: THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

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THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

Third solo flick for the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) has his sister, Hela The God of Death (Cate Blanchett) returning from exile and claiming the throne of Asgard. She destroys Thor’s hammer and casts he and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into space, where they land on the anarchic planet of Sakaar. While Hela lays waste to Asgard’s armies, Thor is taken prisoner and forced into a gladiatorial arena where he finds his old ally Hulk is the reigning champion. Ever determined to save his world, Thor plots to escape with Hulk, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and a Asgardian Valkyrie warrior (Tessa Thompson) in hiding, who has faced Hela before.

Marvel took a chance with an out of left-field choice by hiring New Zealand comedy director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows) for this third entry. Armed with a script and story by Christopher Yost, Eric Pearson and Chris Kyle, Waititi delivers an audacious action/adventure that evokes The Fifth Element with it’s mix of over-the top, sci-fi action and a delightfully eccentric sense of humor. It’s tone also echos the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, but while their humor was sarcastic and biting, here it’s very offbeat and sometimes downright weird. It makes for one of the more daring and fun entries in Marvel’s long running film series and it works far more than it doesn’t…and not all the humor hits the mark. The design of the film and it’s action sequences is stunning and it doesn’t quite look like anything we’ve seen from these movies so far, though not too different to alienate itself from the other films of the MCU. The SPFX are as good as it gets and there is a wonderfully 80s-esque electronic score from Mark Mothersbaugh. At 130 minutes it might be a tad too long, but it is never boring and when it’s not thrilling us with some spectacular action, it’s providing some solid laughs and gives us one of the stronger Marvel villain’s to boo with Blanchett’s Hela.

The cast all do wonderfully here. Chris Hemsworth shows he has a gift for comedy with a more jovial Thor. He’s still haughty and noble and a bit self-centered, but the actor also handles the comic scenes very well without weakening the God of Thunder’s heroic veneer. Hiddleston is also fun as Loki, who seems more reluctantly along for the ride this time than his usual in control, scheming self. Tessa Thompson is fiery and sexy as the Valkyrie warrior who once faced Hela and it frightened her so much she went into self-imposed exile on Sakaar’s nowhere land. There is still a noble quality hidden under the booze and bravado and it will draw her to Thor’s side despite her reluctance. Mark Ruffalo is again a delight as Banner/Hulk. The good doctor seems to have taken a backseat to his green alter ego and it’s fun to watch him deal with the fact that he’s been Hulk-ed out for over two years. Cate Blanchett is smoothly sinister as the God of Death, Hela. She is a great actress and makes her fierce and powerful, but not without a very dry and twisted sense of humor. She’s fun to watch as she chews the scenery, but she never let’s the character get too over-the-top, avoiding camp. In support we have Karl Urban as Skurge, a traitorous Asgardian who becomes Hela’s henchman, Idris Elba returning as Heimdall and Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric and flamboyant Grandmaster, who runs Sakaar’s gladiator matches. A great cast who deftly handle the offbeat tone and material.

This flick may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy movies like The Fifth Element, or even the recent Guardians movies, this is definitely up your alley. It’s got some spectacular action, some visually sumptuous settings and FX and a healthy, but very offbeat and eccentric sense of humor. Director Waititi delivers one of the more audacious entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he and lead Hemsworth keep Thor’s effective qualities sharp, while making him far funnier than we’ve ever seen him…and it works. There is a top notch cast of eclectic characters to back the God of Thunder up, including Waititi’s own hilarious vocalization of alien gladiator Korg and an appearance by another Marvel superhero, that won’t be spoiled here. A really fun and in many ways daring, entry in Marvel’s on-going movie series.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 hammers.

 

 

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REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

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Film picks up two decades after the events of the original Independence Day with earth having rebuilt and now using recovered alien technology to devise a better defense system in case the invaders return…and they do. Right before they were taken down in 1996, a distress signal was issued and now it’s getting a response. With a massive ‘harvester’ ship heading towards earth, familiar and new faces must band together to battle this even more formidable invasion.

The first Indepenence Day may have been silly, corny and loaded with clichés, but it was also fun, charming and had loads of heart. Sadly, it’s sequel is a cold, soulless and actually kinda dull, follow-up that can’t even generate some emotional intensity with some major story points involving beloved characters. And while speaking of characters, the film is so quick to get to the destruction and carnage, that none of the new characters get any real development and thus we are never as endeared to them like we were to the first film’s ensemble. In fact, most of this film’s effective moments feature some of the returning characters and the newbies are left to sort of clean-up behind them. The film also feels like it was edited down quite a bit in an attempt to make it more fast moving and get to the explosions quicker. At least the first film took it’s time to set-up the story and introduce it’s stereotyped characters. Roland Emmerich directs this sequel very by-the-numbers and only sparsely does he recapture a little of the old ID4 spirit. Sure, there are a few moments, especially during the final confrontation, though one has to laugh that the battle with the giant alien queen was a far better monster movie than Emmerich’s entire Godzilla. He finally figured it out 18 years later. There is a lot of action here, though it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. If Emmerich was smart about something, he keeps the city destruction to a minimum as it’s been overdone in so many movies, including his own, since he blasted worldwide landmarks back in 1996. The SPFX are top notch, but basically boils down to the same Star Wars-esque dog fights that also have been done to death since Star Wars and Emmerich fails to give any of it a sense of urgency or intensity…and they are also kinda hard to follow as all the ships look alike in combat. This keeps us detached from what’s going on. Again, it’s pretty lifeless for a movie that sacrifices story and plot development to concentrate on the action. Speaking of story, Emmerich co-wrote the script with ID4 partner Dean Devlin and three other writers and it’s sad that five people churned out such a routine and formula flick. There are a few interesting elements, such as the previous invasion’s effect on Earth, a really interesting segment in Africa and the possibility that this formidable enemy might have enemies of it’s own, but it’s not enough to make this truly engaging. Even the first film’s goofy sense of humor has been toned down considerably making it a lot drier in the humor department. The first film wasn’t afraid to make you laugh, even in the middle of dramatic moments.

The cast is a mix of familiar and new faces and none of them are given anything really special to do or even the kind of corny, melodramatic moments that made the first film such cornball fun. Pullman, Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Spiner all try hard to give the flick a little life, but even they seem to be performing by-the-numbers at times. Only Hirsch really feels like the guy we saw in ID4 and he also doesn’t seem to have aged any more in the twenty years since. Pullman has a big moment, too that is mishandled and it’s a shame as it should have been one of the film’s standout scenes. Emmerich blows a lot of moments like this and big moments is what made the first flick fun. As for the newbies, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher and It Follows‘ Maika Monroe all come across as bland and that’s disappointing, especially as this is Monroe’s jump to the big time after getting attention in last years horror hit. It’s not totally their fault as the script doesn’t give them much to work with and the focus keeps shifting back and forth from the previous to the new generation, which gives the old school cast the advantage as we are already familiar with them. The new generation are underused and even vet William Fichtner fails to really make a strong general turned President as Pullman successfully did with his war hero president in the first film. A good but underused cast. Will Smith is definitely missed.

So, while one was hoping this would be the surprise delight of the summer, it’s just another disappointment. It never captures the corny fun of the 1996 classic and is very cold, routine and by-the-numbers sequel. Roland Emmerich fails to recreate the magic with some of it’s returning characters and squanders the potential of it’s new generation characters and the charming young actors that play them. It’s a heartless and lazy sequel that only sporadically delivers brief moments that evoke the silly popcorn crowd pleaser that captured the hearts and dollars of a generation in 1996. Sometimes thing are better left…un-sequeled?

Personal Note: At least I can boast that I saw the original on July 4th, 1996 in a packed theater in Long Beach Island, N.J. while on vacation there with friends.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 aggressive aliens.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: DEATH WISH (1974)

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DEATH WISH (1974)

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Death Wish is a classic film and one of the most renown for legendary star Charles Bronson before Cannon Films turned it into a overblown franchise. The grim tale is of Paul Kersey (Bronson), a successful NYC architect with a beautiful daughter (Kathleen Tolan) and a loving wife (Hope Lang). The crime rate in the city is rising and it hits home for Kersey as a group of thugs (including a young Jeff Goldblum) targets his wife and daughter. His wife is beaten to death and his daughter brutally raped to the point of being non-resposive. The peaceful, former combat medic then changes his liberal thinking and takes to the streets to teach the criminal element a lesson…one bullet at a time.

The film is based on a book by Brian Garfield and written for the screen by Wendell Mayes. Michael Winner was chosen to direct, having worked with Bronson before on The Mechanic and The Stone Killer. Winner has a very by-the-numbers directing style and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as anything flashier would have taken this into exploitation territory, which it skates quite close to already. The scene of the thugs assaulting Kersey’s wife and daughter is still as brutally effective as it was back in 1974 and it gives us reason to be behind Kersey when he starts slimming the NYC mugger population. The scenes of Bronson stalking the streets are effective, as is the turmoil inside the NYC police department when they realize someone is doing their job with far more brutal efficiency. There is obviously violence and Winner does give the NYC streets of that era a very desolate look at night, where danger does lurk on every corner. If the film stumbles, it’s for an over-obvious trip to Arizona that introduces Kersey to a community not afraid to bare arms and even has him returning to NYC with a gift of a six shooter. It’s a big plot contrivance to get Kersey armed and in kill mode and thankfully the film settles down to a more down to earth second half when Kersey becomes a vigilante folk hero cleaning up the streets. Racial issues are touched on briefly, but not made a major issue and the script does lay out some sequences and dialog that seem a bit corny at this point in time. There is an effective score by Herbie Hancock and Arthur J. Ornitz captures the urban jungle quite nicely with his camera work. A film that resonated with audiences at a time where NYC was more known for it’s crime wave than it’s Broadway shows.

The cast is top notch. Bronson does the stone faced performance that he is famous for, though does give Kersey some heart especially in the early scenes with his family and the aftermath of the attack. He takes the tough guy thing down a few notches so Kersey is believable as a normal family man driven to drastic measures for revenge. Hope Lang paints a portrait of a loving wife and mother in her brief screen time and it helps makes us sympathetic to her cruel end. Vincent Gardenia is the NY cop caught between catching a killer and the political backlash of the vigilante lowering the crime rate. Steven Keats is also effective as Kersey’s son-in-law and conveys his heartache well. Some future stars also appear as muggers, such as the before mentioned Jeff Goldblum, an uncredited Denzel Washington and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, who would become a star in Cooley High and on Welcome Back Kotter a year later.

Death Wish may be a little dated, especially since the NYC clean-up of the early 90s, but it’s strength still remains. It’s a story of an average man driven to desperate acts to avenge the brutal crimes randomly committed on his loved ones. It portrays NYC as a crime ridden jungle with Bronson doing what he is a film legend for and stalking the stalkers. Sure some of the dialog is corny, and it can be a bit over obvious too…especially the contrived Arizona scenes…but is still an effective thriller even today and has the guts to not give it’s story a neat and clean ending either. Death Wish spawned a bunch of imitators, including the trash classic The Exterminator and it’s own franchise that brought Kersey and his guns out for four more movies. Now there is talk of a remake.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 bullets.

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: THE SENTINEL (1977)

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THE SENTINEL (1977)

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Flick is a prime example of the type of big studio, all star cast, horror films that came out in the 70s after the success of films like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. It tells the story of emotionally troubled model Alison Parker (Christina Raines), who moves into an old building in Brooklyn with a group of eccentric neighbors, including an old blind priest (John Carradine) who lives on the top floor and constantly stares out the window despite his handicap. No sooner does she movie in, that strange things start to happen. She begins to suffer headaches and strange dreams and she’s even told by the realtor (Ava Gardner) that, aside from the old priest, there is no one else living in her building. Despite these developments, Alison continues to live there and her nightmarish visions continue to worsen. It appears that the apartment is a gateway to hell and the old blind priest is it’s guardian. It’s time for a changing of the guard, though…and guess who has been chosen to watch the gateway next?

Film is written and directed by British filmmaker and frequent Charles Bronson director, Michael Winner from Jeffery Konvitz’s book. It has some genuinely creepy and disturbing moments, thought they are inconsistent in their delivery and the film takes about halfway through for stuff to really start getting spooky. Winner has a very straightforward style, so the film has a very by-the-numbers feel, though he does manage some legitimate chills here and there. There is some good gore and makeup FX from the legendary Dick Smith and the film did receive some harsh criticism for it’s use of actual deformed people as demonic minions in it’s unsettling climax. The pace is a moderate one and we get a very ominous conclusion, as was common with 70s horror flicks. It’s not a bad flick, but one that could have been a lot better with a more stylish director behind the camera to give it some life and intensity…though, again, Winner does create a memorable and atmospheric climax and some chilling moments along the way. It’s just a little stale at times.

Christina Raines is fine as the emotionally scarred young woman thrust into a nightmarish situation. She is a little wooden in her performance, but she does alright. As stated there is an all star cast in support of lead Raines. Chris Sarandon plays her high profile, lawyer boyfriend who doubts her at first, then does some investigating which changes his mind and gives us needed exposition. He is a little uncharacteristically bland in the role. Carradine has little to do as the blind priest Father Halliran and has no dialog. We also have Ava Garder as a realtor, Burgess Meredith as one of Alison’s spectral neighbors, Eli Wallach as a hard-nosed cop and Martin Balsam as an eccentric professor. We also have some rising stars such as a young Christopher Walken as a detective, Jeff Goldblum (who starred as a thug in Winner’s Death Wish) as a photographer and Tom Berenger as a new tenant.

This is a moderately entertaining 70s horror flick from a director more known for his Bronson headlined action flicks. It has some legitimate creepy moments, but takes awhile to get started. It’s basically all a set-up for it’s disturbing climax which came under fire, in the day, for using real deformed and handicapped individuals to portray it’s demonic creatures. Regardless of how one feels about that, it is very spooky and makes up for some of the film’s somewhat staler aspects. Some feel it’s a classic and while I’m not one of them, I respect that opinion as it certainly has it’s moments. Worth a look.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 spooky specters

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: THE THING and THE FLY

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This week’s double feature showcases two horror classics, both great remakes of films that themselves were classics and both directed by two of the greatest horror directors of the modern era. Watched this the other night and it was a great evening of classic horror cinema!

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THE THING (1982)

Arguably John Carpenter’s best film and his masterpiece, The Thing  was a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1951 classic The Thing From Another World, which was itself based on John W. Campbell’s story Who Goes There? Instead of using the 1951 film’s walking, blood sucking alien vegetable, he went back to Campbell’s story which featured an alien creature capable of imitating whatever it fed on.

Carpenter’s film opens with an isolated American research station in Antarctica being buzzed by a Norwegian helicopter that seems to be trying to gun down a lone sled dog. The incident results in the helicopter being destroyed and both raving occupants being killed, one by the station commander Gary (Donald Moffat) in defense of his crew. Now the team including helicopter pilot MacReady (Kurt Russell) are stuck with a bizarre mystery and the surviving sled dog. When MacReady and Doctor Copper (Richard Dysart) investigate the Norwegian camp, they find it destroyed, it’s occupants dead and a huge hollowed out block of ice…not to mention a burned corpse of something barely human. The investigating of the evidence indicates the Norwegians found a strange ship in the ice and brought a specimen back to their camp that apparently was not dead when thawed out. The real nightmare is yet to come as the Norwegian dog reveals itself to be something quite unworldly and that an alien creature with the ability to absorb and become it’s prey may now be among them… or worse, may be one or more of them already. The paranoia and terror grows as the team try to discover who may be a creature in disguise and the creature feeds their paranoia and seeks to eliminate any of the men with the scientific knowhow to unmask it. Can those still human stop it and if they fail, what will happen to the rest of humanity?

The Thing is both a masterpiece of suspense and tension, as well as, of visceral horror. Carpenter along with Bill Lancaster’s script perfectly creates the paranoia of not knowing who around you is human and who is not. The setting of isolation is made all that apparent as Carpenter seals his characters in an ice and snow surrounded maze of hallways and dark rooms where the 12 men are trapped with something very inhuman and they can’t even trust each other as it could be anyone. The team all suspect each other, but as is human nature, turn to those they like for support and turn on those they may have not liked or not gotten along with before. We have 12 men who are social outcasts thrust into a situation where no one is coming to their rescue and they are forced to not only try to save themselves, but literally save the planet, as their failure to stop this creature will unleash it upon an unsuspecting world. Just so we fully understand the enormity of this creature’s threat, we are treated, via make-up FX master Rob Bottin (and Stan Winston who created the dog kennel creature), to some of the most gruesome creature transformation sequences ever filmed. Bottin convinced Carpenter to not go with a standard true form for the creature design, but an organism that is constantly changing and different once revealed and is made up of parts of all the beings it has absorbed during it’s journey through space. The results are visually horrifying and still hold their full impact even today. All this is brilliantly filmed by cinematographer Dean Cundey and accented by a haunting score by Ennio Morricone…who later voiced disapproval of how Carpenter used it. It is said the prominent electronic bits were actually written by Carpenter, though a lot of Morricone’s music is still used.

As for the human players, obviously this is Kurt Russell’s show, as he plays a man who is reluctantly forced to try to save a world he seems intent on hiding from and does so, honorably and selflessly. With 12 characters not everyone is given a lot of attention, but the cast all handle their roles well in presenting a bunch of eclectic social misfits who would rather be in the antarctic than with the rest of the world. The standouts aside from Russell’s MacReady are Dysart’s Dr. Copper, Moffat’s Gary, who crumbles when he really needs to take charge forcing MacReady to lead the rest, Keith David’s Childs and Brimley’s scientist Blair. Ironic, as Brimley has voiced his complete distain for the film. Maybe he should have read the script before signing on? Rounding out a solid cast are Richard Masur as Clark, David Clennon as stoner Palmer, Charles Hallahan as the meek Norris, Joel Polis as the quiet scientist Fuchs, T.K. Carter as the smart-ass cook Nauls, Thomas G. Waites as cowardly radioman Windows and Peter Maloney as complainer Bennings. Carpenter’s wife at the time, actress Adrienne Barbeau, also has a vocal cameo as the voice of MacReady’s chess computer.

The history of this film is as legendary as the film itself. The flick was critically panned for it’s gruesome gore FX and grim tone and audiences stayed away…not me, though, I saw it at least 3 times back in the day…and it has taken decades for it to finally be recognized as the masterpiece and classic it truly is. Simply a great horror/sci-fi film that has yet to be equalled. Followed by a Carpenter-less prequel in 2011 that is a moderately amusing companion piece at best.

A classic 4 (out of 4) Things!

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THE FLY (1986)

Much like Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is based on a 1950s horror flick of the same name and similar plot which itself is based on a short story, this one written by George Langelaan. Cronenberg’s telling is of brilliant scientist Seth Brundle ( Jeff Goldblum) who plans to revolutionize travel and change the world by creating teleportation devices which can instantly transfer people from one place to another when perfected. He meets and falls for pretty journalist Veronica (Geena Davis) and decides to reveal his work to the world through her, as she documents his progress. The two quickly become lovers and during an evening when Ronnie leaves to deal with slimy publisher/ ex-boyfriend Stathis Borans (John Getz), a jealous and drunk Brundle decides to use himself as the first human test subject for teleportation. At first Brundle seems to somehow have been improved through teleporting being stronger and faster, but soon his body and behavior starts to change for the worse and his health starts to deteriorate. An investigation into his teleporting session reveals a fly was in the telepod with him and the computer became confused and fused their DNA at a molecular level. Now the man is slowly turing into a monster and Ronnie is torn between staying to help the man she loves, or fleeing an evolving creature that becomes less human…and more dangerous…by the day.

Where David Hedison’s scientist in the 1958 classic simply became a human with a fly’s head and claw and the fly had his human head, Cronenberg, working from his own draft from Charles Edward Pogue’s script, uses the transformation as a metaphor for disease…some interpret it as AIDS, but Cronenberg himself nixes the idea he was being so specific. Instead of swapping part’s, Goldblum’s Brundle is merged with the insect at a molecular level and Cronenberg treats us to a grotesque and horrifying gradual transformation from man to insectoid monster. All the more effective because we like the charming and eccentric Seth so much and the romance between he and Veronica works so well, we are horrified to watch him degenerate in front of his helpless lover.

Davis and Goldblum have such great chemistry together and both give terrific performances which really makes the film work, as we become endeared to this cute and off-beat couple and watching her pain and his confusion and terror, as he mutates slowly into a human/insect hybrid, that can walk on ceilings and and could kill viciously if provoked, is mortifying . As performances go, let’s not forget John Getz who creates a slimy, self centered jerk in Stathis Borans yet, still makes him heroic and sympathetic during the films horrifying climax. Even minor supporting characters all perform well here. The SPFX from Chris Walas Inc. are stunning and rightfully won an Academy Award…though Goldblum was robbed of a deserved nomination. Walas and his team gruesomely take us from skin blemishes and fingernails falling off to a full blown insectoid creature in the film’s intense and heartbreaking last act. Their make-up FX not only show the graphic effects of the gradual transformation, but allow the human underneath to come through and enhances an already sympathetic and strong performance by our leading man. Assisting Cronenberg, his actors and his FX team is a wonderfully moody and intense score by Howard Shore and atmospheric cinematography by Mark Irwin.

The Fly is a true horror classic and arguably Cronenberg’s best film and was oddly praised for the same reasons our first feature The Thing was criticized for only 4 years earlier. It is a horrifying and yet heartbreaking sci-fi film about the price and sacrifice one man pays for delving into things possibly best left alone. Underneath all the grotesquery and horror, there is also a tragic love story and an allegory to the torment of dealing with the illness of a loved one or one’s self. A great horror, but also, simply a great movie. Followed in 1989 by an amusing, but far inferior sequel that had only Getz returning as a bitter and now handicapped Borans and was directed by Fly FX man Chris Walas.

A classic 4 (out of 4) flies!

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