The Kids Still Got It

Martin Brundle is owned by Bartok Industries when The Fly II begins. It’s never clear how or why a corporation owns Brundle’s offspring. Rather, The Fly II goes headfirst into an allegory about conglomerates taking control of children from a young age. The ‘80s brought with them a new era, where toys and cartoons were designed in tandem to ensnare younger audiences. Star Wars proved the formula could work, and then went to extremes.

That’s one way to pick up from The Fly, seguing from a masterfully mature, resonant story of love and disease to one concerned with Reagan-era capitalism. The CEO Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson) tells Martin (Eric Stoltz) that Transpod experiments will let Bartok, “control form and function of all life on Earth.” Even under Reagan, that was a mighty claim.

As a follow-up, The Fly II is too bright, even too cheerful early on. That’s beaten down when The Fly II finds hideous sentimentality from a tortured dog, suffering from Bartok’s failed tests. No one minds that a child is imprisoned for profitable study, lessening the humanity, and necessitating the dog.

The Fly II effectively starts over, going through a routine seen in each prior entry

An argument can be made that’s The Fly II’s point – after Brundle lost his compassion in The Fly, so too did everyone in this world. Only the innocent retained their ability to feel, and that’s Martin. Thus, he feels empathy for the dog when no one else does.

The longest film in The Fly lineage, dating back to 1958, The Fly II doesn’t spend that extra time well. A romance blossoms between Martin and co-worker Beth (Daphne Zuniga). Like Bartok’s other employees, no one questions the sexual involvement with Martin who is, technically, only five; his genes rapidly age him physically to 20-ish. Still, awkward.

Retreading the science chews on pacing; The Fly II effectively starts over, going through a routine seen in each prior entry. Stoltz is fine, but remarkable when under heavy makeup and shot under the blue glow of an electric fly trap. There, he’s finally losing his sanity, and the performance comes alive.

Sticking with this story does pay off. Years after Return of the Fly tried, Fly II delivers a gooey, monster rampage finish. Melting faces, contorted spines, and gruesome mutations ensue, backed by a spectacular Fly puppet, the design credited to director Chris Walas who brings a visible signature from his work on Gremlins.

From that mainstream mayhem spawns an ending meant to be happy. It is, a little. With The Fly tradition though, this is notably cruel, even excessive. The Brundle curse continues, turning the once pacifist Martin into a vengeful monster. Like father, like son, as the generic tagline says.

Video

Only a marginal effort is put forth for The Fly II’s Blu-ray debut, listless and lacking. Likely due to the bolder lighting, the material looks more textural than its predecessor. By default, a winner in a shoot-out between the ’80s films.

It’s not coming from a new scan though. Dirt intrudes frequently. A dusty aesthetic hangs over this print. Resolution sags overall, notably with chunky, thick grain that comes more in line with an older, made-for-SD master. Luckily, The Fly II doesn’t show any ringing or halos; it’s naturally blah.

Routine contrast brings black levels where needed, if not at their densest. Better is color, heavy on saturation to differentiate The Fly II when compared to The Fly’s muted palette. Accurate flesh tones emerge, and with this presentation, it’s easy to appreciate the paint applied to the finale’s puppet.

Audio

In 5.1, the mix uses minimal positioning to expand the soundstage. Surrounds act like extensions of stereo channels, playing off the electric hum from the pods. The score reaches rears to nicely envelop. Aside from those touches, back speakers stay dry.

Overall fidelity reaches a sharp peak. Even the low-end earns work, accentuating the score, plus adding weight to the fly stomping around. A nice mix.

Extras

In terms of new bonuses, The Fly II earns the most from Scream Factory’s The Fly Collection with a slew of interviews. First is a seemingly bitter producer Stewart Cornfeld (8:12), followed by co-writers Mick Garris (14:06) and Ken Wheat (22:13), cinematographer Robin Vidgeon (15:20), composer Christopher Young (18:34), and artist Tom Sullivan (17:45). For more, there’s a commentary from director Chris Walas and historian Bob Burns.

An older interview with Walas runs a massive 80-minutes, and done around the same time, producer Steven Charles Jaffe speaks for a half hour. Transformations details the production in a well made 48-minute documentary, with Walas’ above interview used frequently. For a look back at the entire series, check out The Fly Papers, running nearly an hour as it discusses the franchise’s legacy.

Running 18-minutes, a production journal shows raw behind-the-scenes material. Composer Master Class runs 12-minutes, with a slew of EPK material, a deleted scene, an alternate ending, and marketing materials finishing off this stellar bonus menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Fly II
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

While messy and manipulative, The Fly II finds success via its effects-laden finale after a meandering (even incomplete) story beforehand.

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