The Fly Deserves More Buzz

The Fly

The 1986 sci-fi horror The Fly may have attempted to sink into the venerated halls of cinematic glory, but that’s why reviewers like me are around. While it’s true the effects of older movies are a little more difficult to pull off and oriented more around makeup and gimmicks, newer movies tend to be CGI and nothing but. In this specific case, the makeup and costume effects make The Fly scary. But you get a healthy dose of sci-fi in there too, so best of both worlds, eh?

Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife meet at a scientists’ social, where Seth says that he’s going to change the way the world works with a single invention. After fending off a little skepticism, he convinces Veronica to come over to his place and see it work. What he reveals is that he has three teleportation pods, and he dazzles her by teleporting her stocking. He tries to convince her to not write a story about him when he finds out she’s a journalist, but to no avail.


The FlyHer editor
, with whom she has shared a farcical romantic relationship with, dismisses the teleportation as a con-man’s lightshow. This allows Seth the opportunity to ask Veronica to write a novel on his work, to stay with him and watch as his teleportation progresses. That works.

Testing reveals that the Brundle telepods can only transport inanimate objects after a monkey is turned inside out and killed. Seth realizes that the computer is unable to teleport living beings because it doesn’t know how to. The Brundle analysis is that he needs to make the computer “crazy about the flesh,” a fairly cheesy 1980s sci-fi movie line.

A complication with Veronica’s editor arises, and she leaves to cut things off once and for all, something Seth misinterprets as being cheated on. In a drunken bout of anger, he goes through his telepods without her there. Little did he know, a fly snuck into the telepod with him and winds up teleported. Only, on the other side, the fly is gone. Where did it go? Why is Seth eating more sweets and gaining physical strength? And… what’s with the nasty acne and prickly new hairs?

The FlySeth Brundle has been fused with a fly. Slowly but surely, he is becoming… Brundlefly. And let me tell you, the costume/makeup effects are irreplaceable. The steady progression of Seth Brundle from man to fly-man is horrific and vivid. Pus to pimples, I personally guarantee that you’ll flinch when Veronica hugs Brundlefly after he throws up on a donut and his ear falls off. Yuck.

It’s a good movie, though I wouldn’t call it ahead of its time. It’s certainly fantastic for its time, but it doesn’t go above and beyond. If The Fly didn’t make Jeff Goldblum famous, it damn well made him more famous. He often winds up in a “quirky scientist type” role, and he plays it well. But what does someone else think?

James Berardinelli of ReelViews divided The Fly into three acts: The first is your average romance story with a dash of sci-fi. The second is the superhero story where Brundle discovers what abilities he has gained from being spliced with a fly. The third is the good old horror aspect, when Brundlefly is born. This description is apt to say the least, and the transitions between these acts are flawless. Read more here: http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=362

Limitless: Inaccurate Self Reference

Limitless

Limitless has got some pretty cliché problems, which I find ironic considering it’s about a writer. The space between the beginning and end drags its ass, and the ending itself is pretty darn insulting. As an aspiring writer, and I don’t mean that in a pretentious way, I find the ending of the movie a little offensive. Yes, there will be spoilers. Yes, they will be disappointing to some degree. Let’s turn this milk into a shake.

Edward Morra is a broke, uninspired, smoking/drinking writer with a well-to-do girlfriend and a book deal that isn’t really going anywhere. While moving from bar to home to sit down and grind out his sci-fi story about the bread and butter of American society, he encounters Vernon, the brother of his ex-wife. Vernon hands him over a gratis “magic pill” that he claims will solve all of Edward’s creative issues. Not wanting to get into substance stuff, Eddie tucks it away for later.

Of course, on the way back to his apartment, the temptation overwhelms him, and he pops the tab. As his landlord’s young wife bitches him out about being slow, stupid, broke, and useless, the effects kick in. His brain goes into overdrive, and instead of saying sorry, he helps the gal finish her history paper and has gratuitous implied sex with her. I guess being on smart drugs means you get laid. First point of distaste. THEN, he cleans up his apartment, writes ninety pages of his book and gives it to his editor, who loves it, and then goes ahead and finishes his book in four days. His life is awesome.
LimitlessUntil the effects wear off, anyway. Next day, he feels like a piece of crap. With the effects gone, he can’t think of anything to do but go pester Vernon for some more. Vernon nearly makes a chore boy out of him, making him get dry-cleaning and breakfast. Only, when Eddie returns, Vernon’s dead and his apartment has been ransacked. Naturally, Eddie calls the cops. Then, being off of the drug, he scours the apartment and finds a massive stash of pills and cash in the oven.

This is where the movie tends to lose most people. With a steady dose of these crazy smart pills, Eddie becomes a genius in every area: gambling, writing, getting laid, economics, playing stocks, mathetmatics, so on, so forth. It gets a bit hectic, but the narration manages to keep you on track enough to learn that he plays the stock market and acquires a modest amount of fame and a shitload of money.

This snowballs into the movie’s drama meat as he’s pursued by men who want the pills for themselves, all the while trying to usher in a great big corporate merger on behalf of a high-up executive who liked his style. Many of the thrills come from Eddie losing his high and being in tense situations, or simply him being awesome and solving problems like a doped out genie genius.

The conclusion… sucks. Rather than apply his genius intellect into some practical field with grand potential, like medicine, artificial intelligence, or psychology, he decides to run for president. Because only geniuses get into the White House, right? I’m not going to start a rant on political commentary as that would be superfluous. My point is, what a damned waste of brainpower. And Edward’s such a cocky bastard about it, too.

LimitlessBut it’s just a movie, so whatever. Overall, I do believe Limitless is a good movie. It may choke at the finish line and suffer some occasional “why the hell would she use a little girl’s ice skates as a weapon instead of hedge trimmers or a baseball bat” moments, but overall, the outlook is positive. Good to watch, good to rewatch, but not quite over-and-over material.

Black Sheep Reviews unloaded a double-barrel of crap all over Limitless, and for good reason, I’d say. This is a movie about potential, and it falls flat on its ass. It’s fun to watch, but if you get any deeper than “sort of paying attention,” expect massive amounts of disappointment. The moral of this story is, you can’t just take drugs and become awesome. You have to be Bradley Cooper to pull that shit off. Hah, I’m just teasing, he didn’t pull it off either. Here’s the review link: http://blacksheepreviews.blogspot.com/2011/07/limitless.html

The Omen: Political Demons

The OmenFor this particular religious horror movie, I am not going to be going in-depth with the plot. Because the plot is entirely irrelevant. How can that be, you may ask? The Devil wins. Now that I’ve spoiled it for you, the plot is irrelevant. Let’s talk about the flawed characters and obnoxious aspects of this movie instead, because that’s much more fun.

First off, the scheme. A cult of Satanists murders the newborn child of Robert and Katherine Thorn, replacing him with the son of the Devil. For whatever reason, they decide to name the kid Damien. Like Demon. He has black hair and blue eyes, and he likes to stare at dead bodies. Animals are afraid of him. Who wouldn’t realize that this kid is evil at heart? Seriously. Anyways, the endgame of the plot is that Damien murders his entire family and inherits his father’s political throne, then destroys the world with war by controlling the brain of the President of the United States. First off, that wouldn’t work because the president is just a figurehead role, and lacks the political power to actually destroy the world. But I guess Damien’s Satan, so he can just use his demon magic to fiddle with the other politicians until they turn evil as well. I don’t care.

The OmenAnother complaint. Robert is made deputy of the Ambassador of Britain. This is relevant because the ambassador is being driven down the street in Italy, and the whole Satanic sequence of events starts up, the guy sees 6:06 and six seconds on his watch, and a gasoline tanker truck slides down a hill and crashes into his limo. Oh, also, a hobo flicks a cigarette onto the ground nearby. You know where this is going. Here’s the part that bothers me: As the stupid ambassador’s car is being flooded by gasoline coming in through his window, he tries to open the door that’s blocked by the truck. You know, instead of trying to move AWAY from the gallons of flammable liquid pouring onto his face. So what the hell, man? Don’t ask.

More people die, like Damien’s nanny, who hangs herself at the kid’s birthday party. Then, Father Brennan comes along and starts warning Robert about Damien being the son of the Devil. True to the course of most vanilla horror movies, Robert doesn’t believe a word he says. Father Brennan comes off as a little crazed, but he’s one of the Satanists that wound up regretting his actions, so I suppose he has the right to be a little insane. Point being, Brennan’s right, Robert’s stubborn. Game over, man.

The OmenMia Farrow winds up as Damien’s new nanny, by the by. You remember Mia Farrow, don’t you? She was in Rosemary’s Baby, played the pious girlfriend who wound up giving birth to the Devil’s child? Similar roles, eh? Funny little world.

Anyways, plotwise… Everyone Robert loves dies, and he finally listens to the now-dead Brennan’s advice to meet the priest Bugenhagen in order to kill the Devil within Damien. Even the cameraman who helped Robert for a while, pointing out weird stuff in pictures that led to the photographed person’s death. Finally, with nothing else left to lose, Robert sets out to kill Damien by stabbing him to death in a church. His security team winds up tailing him and gunning him down before he can manage to get the first knife in. As I said, the Devil wins. Cue Damien standing next to the president and smirking victoriously back to the audience. Fade to black.

The Omen is an okay movie, the main problem being that it takes itself too seriously to the point of being insistent and preachy. But alas, it’s a super-religious movie in which the righteous try to fight the forces of malevolence. You can watch it for the scares and thrills, or for the action, or even for the religious morality, but no matter what you watch it for, it’ll shortchange you. As I said, it’s okay. Not good, not bad, just okay. You can watch it if you want. It’s nothing special. Good for background noise during a slumber party, I guess.

V for Vendetta: Somehow Putting the A in Anarchy

V for VendettaDo you have time for a symbolic and iconic political allegory in the form of a film adaptation of a political fiction comic? You… don’t? But it has Hugo Weaving– Ah, there we go. Welcome aboard. And just to save you the Google search, yes, Agent Smith is V. My mind was blown pretty badly. But I digress from the review-review aspect.

V for Vendetta (the movie) is an epic tale that’s meant to personify and denounce corruption, mindless compliance, and brutality, while glorifying absolute justice and iconoclastic change, all with undertones of anarchy. There’s more to glean from the movie, but I’m keeping it abridged for the sake of simplicity. In regards to simplicity, when addressing the complex nature of political evil and compressing it into a two hour movie, you tend to super-focus the extremes.

The setting is the future Great Britain, ruled by the High Chancellor Adam Sutler. His legacy is one of blood and deceit; after having secretly created a super-virus capable of eliminating entire countries, he chooses to release it upon his own. Soon after, he produces a perfect cure for the virus and distributes it to every last person in order to, shall we say, “grease the wheels” come election time. A small group of religious extremists are utilized as a cover story. They plead guilty and are executed for Sutler’s crime against humanity.

V for VendettaNobody knows this except for V, the special subject in the St. Mary’s medical research facility where the virus was born. His body reacted to the virus by making him a physical powerhouse; strong, agile, durable, more than capable of taking down eight armed men at once. His goal is to remove the corrupt Adam Sutler and his council, ultimately resetting the political workings of Great Britain in one swift movement.

Evey Hammond, a worker for the British Television Network, daughter of two now-dead political activists (killed by the government she now lives under), becomes a major part to V’s scheme after encountering some late-night curfew officers on her way to the house of Gordon Deitrich. The first significant act in his plan is to blow up the Old Bailey, which he does in the presence of Evey. Things take a turn for the worst as both she and V are hunted by the government as terrorists and villains. The chain of events leading up to the revolutionary conclusion of the movie is grim and powerful, a little hard not to pay attention to. Political activism, social commentary, or perhaps graceful displays of voilence? No shortage of this here.

V for VendettaI should mention that the movie is vastly different from the comics, character personality and plot-wise. It’s passed through the Hollywood filter, which would have any fan of the original comics livid. Movie V is more of a romance-ish kinda guy who values human life. Comic V is a relentless man driven by revenge, willing to slaughter anyone who impedes his goal. The movie Adam Susan is obviously evil by his acts and behavior. Comic Adam Susan is more developed and rational, veering from the “obligatory evil oppressive dictator” genre. Some other noteworthy tweaks are present as well, such as the roles of Gordon Deitrich and much of the Norsefire party.

So, what I’m saying here is, the comics and the movie have a parallel universe quality complex. The movie is good, but it’s not the best adaptation of the comic. The comic is great, but the prime of the tone and message are distorted in the movie; dumbed down, I suppose. That said, the movie is still worth watching. I’m no avid reader of the V for Vendetta comics, and I found the movie to be very enjoyable out of context. Regardless of what it lacks and what it changes, it’s got politically and morally profound qualities that aren’t so common in movies today. Far from a waste of time.