BEST AND WORST REMAKES: BEST #1 – THE FLY
The Fly exemplifies everything done right. Not only for a remake but for a motion picture. To begin with, it’s better (way better) than the original, a particularly dry film short on shocks. Secondly, you can feel first-hand the thought and energy put into it. This was not a cheap, crass, cash grab by any stretch. In a world where paint-by-numbers filmmaking is evident in shit like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Hitman: Agent 47, Cronenberg does what every filmmaker should be doing with speculative fiction. He brings premise and characters to life, digging underneath a preposterous idea and finding not only real themes and emotion in it but adding a soul to it as well.
I cry every time I watch the Fly. Like a 5-year-old girl who skins her knee. It’s devastating to watch Seth Brundle physically disintegrate during the film, an all too real reminder to those of us who’ve watched loved ones succumb to disease. And screw anyone that scoffs that special effects are just for spectacle. The Fly creates the very definition of movie magic by disturbing us with a full-on animatronic effect — an intensely alien looking nightmare created by Chris Walas — and then inciting the rawest form of sympathy with it when it places a gun barrel to its own head, pleading for its own death.
The Fly doesn’t rely on a worldwide apocalypse to sell you on the stakes. It doesn’t need huge, big-budgeted set-pieces, filled with screaming citizens or cliched platitudes about the values of good science versus evil science. Instead, it goes for the throat on personal stakes: two characters, acting like real-life human beings, facing the inevitability of change, loss, and death. Bogie was wrong: the problems of little people do amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Only Howard Shore’s score, operatic, larger than life and as tragic as it is, tells us how deeply devastating (and true) that really is.