Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Fly

The FlyI've been worried that for a 'curmudgeonly' web site the DVD reviews here have been too favourable. It's hard to think of a recent movie I've watched on DVD I haven't enjoyed at some level. So in some ways it's a bit of a relief to report that I don't think The Fly is anywhere near as good as most of the public reviews would have you believe. Certainly it's the first title in the supposedly classic Cinema Reserve series that has had me going 'Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!'

On the plus side... The last 10 minutes are fun, in a popcorn, gore-fest sort of way. The transfer is excellent (although it's the first Cinema Reserve release I've seen dogged by white flecks on the original print throughout the movie - not as bad as Capote, but not far off it) and the extra's, for anybody interested in the movie, clock in at a generous three hours, including rare deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and all the main actors reminiscing. And I liked the main theme by the always interesting Howard Shore.

Jeff Goldblum gives an 'interesting' performance, and I thought at first my lack of interest in the story might be down to not being a fan of his rather quirky style. But the truth is the movie is just dated - it looks dated, it feels dated, and it is slower than a very slow thing from the planet Veryslowindeed! How can something that only lasts 90 minutes seem so long?

I think mainly the problem is with the script. There's just nothing much there in the way of plot. I came to this with fond memories of the original 1958 movie, and at first I wondered if perhaps I was being unfair to this remake because my memory was playing tricks on me. In my mind the original movie, which I saw in the 'watch B movie horror films on late night TV' phase of my teenage childhood, was a black and white movie starring Vincent Price who ended up with a rather grotesque head and a very scary twist at the end. But the 'Special Feature' documentary on this 1986 'remake' by David Cronenberg features a montage of highlights from that movie which reveal two things: (a) my memory sucks (the film was in colour and Vincent Price plays a policeman not the scientist who becomes 'The Fly'), and (b) the montage is far more entertaining and interesting than anything in the remake movie I've just finished watching.

In the documentary, the writer of the new movie talks a lot about how bad the original movie story was, which to this viewer comes across as at best 'pot calling kettle black' and at worst, ignorant arrogance! Give me the original 1958 version any time (note to self: see if it's available on DVD!)

Cinema Reserve's mission is to be present 'the best movies in the best possible versions'. As I look at this white-flecked version (how difficult is it to remove those digitally really?!) of a rather mediocre film I think they've lost their way - and this is only the ninth release in the series. Very disappointing. Put this one down as a rental only - interesting for some great special effect work, especially at the end, but not much else!

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