If there’s one thing that THE FLY is, it’s self-aware. The plot of THE FLY is nothing new – it’s been lampooned for decades. The film doesn’t pretend like there is a big mystery to be unveiled – in fact, the audience is along for the ride. We know that, by the end of the film, the main character will have turned into a giant fly-like insect. THE FLY rightly understands that, if the destination is known, a compelling journey toward that inevitable ending is needed to keep the audience engaged.
THE FLY is the story of eccentric inventor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and freelance reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis). After meeting at a trade show, Seth invites Veronica to his home to show her the transporter that he has created, and the two begin to document the testing that will eventually lead to human trials. When Seth finally transports himself, a mistake occurs – a fly ends up in the machine and its DNA is integrated with Seth’s. As the film progresses, Seth’s body breaks down and becomes more and more insect-like.
THE FLY is body horror at its finest. It’s not a particularly scary film, but it is fairly compelling. The practical effects in THE FLY still hold up surprisingly well. Even though the plot is straightforward, the film moves along at a quick pace and also throws in some curveballs that I didn’t expect. The film really tackles some big philosophical questions, and although it doesn’t always provide answers, I do give it credit for trying.
My biggest complaint with THE FLY is that the acting is very inconsistent. Jeff Goldblum plays Seth with his usual goofy demeanor, and while it fits the character – it’s still a little campy. Geena Davis, however, provides a performance that is virtually unsalvageable. She floats through the film as Veronica, a woman that lets every man in the film walk all over her. There’s no reason for her to fall for Seth – she just does. Even her reactions in the film feel like she is just going through the motions. Veronica isn’t a believable character at all, and given the small cast, it’s a glaring problem that plagues the entirety of the film.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that THE FLY is a remake of a 1958 film of the same name. Both films involve a teleporter accident that causes an inventor to merge with a fly, though the two films are very different in execution and story. While THE FLY doesn’t really tread new ground, the core concepts are different enough to make it stand out.
THE FLY is a very straightforward film. There are some great ethical quandaries as the story progresses, but the story is ultimately about the transformation of Seth Brundle. The film’s build up is handled very well, though the ending is extremely anticlimactic. It lacks any sort of denouement – perhaps choosing to end on a high note. I felt that much was left unsaid, though. THE FLY is a solid, if unremarkable, film.