Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1986
U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 14A
Film Length: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.85:1 enhanced widescreen
Audio:[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: CDN $25.98
SLP: USD $19.98
Release Date: October 4, 2005.
Film Rating: /
Starring: Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle), Geena Davis (Veronica Quaife), John Getz (Stathis Borans)
Written by: David Cronenberg, George Langelaan & Charles Edward Pogue
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Be afraid. Be very afraid.[/i]
After many years of waiting, fans of David Cronenberg’s classic remake of the 1958 sci-fi film can finally be satisfied. The Fly is now available as a two-disc collector’s edition that boasts fully restored video and audio quality and a load of new special features that are being shown for the first time. I say it’s about time this edition is available – count me in as one of those fans that have been waiting for what seems like forever. You can believe how excited I was to put these discs in my DVD player and see how good of a collector’s edition this is because no doubt you are feeling the same way. Now, you are probably wondering, has it been worth the wait? In short: I’d say so!
Just in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen this film and you are reading this to give your memory a good refresh, I’ll start with the synopsis of the film. Some of you may be saying “just get to the details, dammit!” But this is detail, and it will be straight to the point much like the film; a quality that I admire very much about this picture.
The film wastes no time to present us the characters of scientist Seth Brundle and journalist Veronica Quaife. Veronica is sent to this “coffee meet” by her editor of Particle Magazine for stories relating to new progress in science. While maybe too trusting of Veronica, Seth takes her to his “lab” that resides in his loft in a dingy part of town and personally shows the invention he’s created that “will change the world as we know it.” Seth’s created a teleportation device; he has successfully shown to her that he can disintegrate an object in one “telepod” and reintegrate it in another telepod 15 feet away. Magic? Illusion? Definitely not, and Veronica sees a big story in this eccentric man’s invention. While he pleads not to go public with this, she takes it to her editor who just brushes the story off anyway.
Seth meets up with Veronica the next day for an offer she can’t refuse. He asks her not to publish the story immediately, but to be personally involved with the documenting of the process from beginning to end and publish a book on the complete history. She likes the idea and is sold on it because Seth’s invention has one drawback: it can’t teleport living creatures successfully, thus her story may have less impact.
Since computers are dumb and they only know what people tell them, the error is not in the machine, but in Seth’s misunderstanding about the flesh. Seth will need to make programming changes in the computer and it will take a few more ideas for this systems management professional to piece together the right parts of the code for successful human teleportation.
Over the course of the documentation, Seth and Veronica become closer to each other beyond their professions. This puts pressure on Veronica as her editor, her former boyfriend, becomes jealous. On an evening Veronica attempts to straighten things out with him, Seth thinks she’s left to spend time with her ex. He feels confident about the progress he’s made in the programming and makes the decision to teleport himself. He is successful, but little does he know, a fly flew into the telepod with him. The computer was unable to keep the both of them separate during teleportation so there was fusion between the two at the molecular-genetic level. While Seth initially feels like a new and stronger man, this moment marks the beginning of the slow and painful transformation of Seth Brundle into a large fly.
From the gloomy surroundings, dark and cold interior sets, to the deteriorating body and personality of a once humble and kind man into an instinctive insect and monster; this film is dark from beginning to end. It can be classified as a science fiction, a horror, and a tragic love story because story elements of them exist in it. The film raises questions about the morality of some technology and mankind tampering with nature. This film will frighten you and there are considerable gruesome images to deal with during Seth’s transformation. Character development is excellent and the love relationship between Seth and Veronica bring very upsetting moments to the screen that will make the audience pity both characters for each of their losses. This is a great film and I can keep talking about it but I won’t. I’ll leave you the rest to discover if you haven’t seen it. And to the fans, here is the rest of the information you’ve been waiting for:
VIDEO QUALITY /
This is a “fully restored” version of the film, I’m assuming from the original negative since most of the deleted scenes have been redone from the negatives. The resulting 1.85:1 picture is very satisfactory and much better from what we’ve seen in the past. The image is dim in its appearance to highlight the mood of Seth’s isolated loft/lab. Shadow detail is excellent and it needs to be for this film. I was very happy! Outdoor scenes and the interiors in Particle magazine don’t follow suit with the dimness, but rather offer a pleasant range of contrast.
There are still some problems though, but not big ones. Black specs still pop up every so often and there is quite a bit of fluff (aka dust) that mark the picture once and a while. I would also classify the overall image as slightly soft, but it has always looked this way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very sharp, but compared to other titles this is the impression I get. Thankfully, no edge enhancement is applied to make up for it, and halos or compression artefacts of any kind are not seen when watching this movie.
Strangely enough, the video and the audio of first few beats of the drum of the 20th Century Fox logo are missing from the beginning of the movie. I don’t have my original Fly DVD anymore, so can anyone confirm if it was the same on that disc? I can’t remember.
AUDIO QUALITY /
The soundtrack is front-heavy and it accurately recreates environments that are on screen. In fact, the echo around noises and dialogue are very convincing when in Seth’s loft. Many sound effects are included in this soundtrack and make it very exciting and very real. Surround presence is modest at best offering some ambience to the music that sweeps through. There are no discrete surround cues like today’s 5.1 soundtracks and it sounds like surround from a plain old Dolby Surround soundtrack.
Still, the front soundstage is very wide and because there is so much depth and subtle nuances in the soundtrack I’m giving it a higher score than it would get should the soundtrack not be as detailed in the front. LFE is modest at best too, offering some impact from the music only. But that is perfectly fine because there really isn’t too much in this film that needs any enhancement with LFE. Dialogue is a little dated and slightly sibilant, but for the most part (except when it becomes difficult for Seth to speak) it is clear.
The Fly’s 5.1 soundtrack comes in two decoding flavours: DTS and Dolby Digital. The addition of a DTS encoding is new for [/b]The Fly[/b] and it does offer some midrange depth that is unavailable with the Dolby Digital decoding. Bass is slightly more powerful in the LFE in DTS but the front channel bass appeared about the same. I also noticed a slight difference in out-of-phase presence between the two formats. Since much of the movie’s surround presence seems to come from the front channels using sounds out of phase, I noticed that the Dolby decoding wrapped the sound from the front channels slightly further to the side than the DTS version, while the DTS version seemed ever so slightly less so, but offered a tiny bit more surround channel presence that seemed masked in the Dolby version. This isn’t an indication of different mixes – let’s put that aside right now. Rather, this effect is what my ear is picking up between these two sound delivery formats. And make note that these differences are not immediately noticed, but rather observations done with my eyes closed and my ears open.
The music soundtrack is very clear and dynamic – actually it’s Howard Shore's absolutely terrific music score that IS the most dynamic part of the soundtrack and it DOES fare better when listening to the DTS option (with your eyes open, of course). Dialogue also sounds less heavy with DTS as well, although again, as with other comparisons I’ve done, the amplitude of very high frequency as well as its extension is greater with Dolby Digital. This is clearly evident when listening to the recording noise that surrounds dialogue out of the center channel as well as some passages of Shore’s soundtrack. There’s just more noise detected in the soundtrack when listening to Dolby Digital. There are also some ticking noises coming from mostly the right channel and sometimes the center channel. This does not have anything to do with the either DTS or Dolby Digital. I tried to ignore it no matter how quiet it was, but I just couldn’t help hearing it.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
Well, if there was an ultimate edition of The Fly in terms of special features, this has to be it! Let’s see…where do I start after sitting through everything on these two discs…oh! how about that commentary from David Cronenberg? Is it any good? Sure it is! He’s very insightful about the movie and does a fair amount of talking about it. He’s occasionally quiet, but I’m happy that we get to hear his take on the film as well as his thoughts of CGI today verses “the man in the rubber suit” in The Fly. All I know is that the man in the rubber suit is far more personable and can portray reality and emotions much better than any CGI character.
Pull out disc one and insert disc two and you’ll find a mass of goodies like poop is to a fly. First, let me say that the menus of both of these discs are pretty good. I like the animation and there are some interesting visuals relating to the movie that are distorted in the background. The menus are also in 5.1 audio and sound more spacious than the movie does because it is a new recording. Anyways, on with the features.
There are two documentaries; on is titled Fear of the Flesh: The Making of the Fly. This is a new interactive documentary that runs 2hrs 42min with all interactive features. A fly will appear on the screen and if you want to find out more you hit the “enter” button on your remote. The documentary has chapter stops and has titles all of the way through just to let you know what is about to be discussed. The information in the documentary is invaluable to any Fly fan as it features interviews from Goldblum and Davis, the original director before Cronenberg, as well as the writers and some people on Cronenberg’s crew. You’ll see lots of test footage, raw dailies, deleted sequences, as well as four different codas for the film, none which were used (THANK THE MAKER!!) The documentary is enhanced for widescreen TVs and is in Dolby 5.1. Unfortunately the picture quality is crap and this is surprising considering that HD is right around the corner and it seems to have been filmed with 4:3 480i video cameras. My home videos from the Yukon and Northwest Territories (Canada’s far north) on an SD 16:9 DVD camcorder look far better than this documentary – even the titles look worse than what I can assemble on my computer. So if there is something to grip about on this whole collection it would be this one only thing. But don’t let that take you away from the information presented here.
The next documentary is titled The Brundle Museum of Natural History (11.50) and features collections of design concepts and effects materials housed in the Rob Burns collection. There is also plenty of time spent on Stathis Borans’ hand erosion scene. Nice.
Next up are everyone’s favourite: deleted scenes. There are four deleted scenes as well as two extended scenes to show the editing process when pacing a movie. They include second interview (1.42), the infamous monkey-cat scene (6.58) [you can also view the storyboard and script separate from the video], Brundlefly vs. Baglady (script only – abandoned before filming), butterfly baby (2.25) [this is the L.A. screening version. The workprint is lost so this is reassembled from the original negative and a VHS dupe of the animation]. Some of the scenes are reconstructed from the original negative or are from the workprint, or from a bit of both.
The same applies to the extended scenes. These extended scenes also have an option for you to watch them on their own or with a “red box” around the parts that were excised to quicken the pace of the scene. The two extended scenes are reconciliation (2.59) and the poetry of steak (3.39). While there are probably many other small cuts like this left on the cutting room floor, they by no means change the direction of the story. They just add a few more sentences between important dialogue.
Next we can view some written work. What kind? How about Gorge Langelaan’s Original Short Story that first appeared in Playboy magazine in the 1950s? What if the disc also included Charles Edward Pogue’s original screenplay before it was re-written? And what if I also told you that David Cronenberg’s rewrite was also on here? Well, they are all here!
You can read them to your heart’s content and the text is big enough for those of you with small TVs. You can also read three articles on The Fly, one is on the visual effects that featured in CINEFEX magazine in November 1986. The other two articles are in American Cinematography. You can also view the DVD credits here. Congrats to those who worked on it for doing such a fine job!
Also included are several film tests of visual effects that were transferred from the original negatives. They include opening title treatments (1.54), pod lighting and effects (2.01), Brundlefly make-up (2.17), exploding space bug (0.50) and a funny little Cronenfly (0.48) piece featuring Cronenberg crawling from the floor and up the wall and onto the ceiling.
There is a crapload of promotional materials for the film including a teaser, a trailer, and three TV spots, as well as teasers and trailers for The Fly II and the 1950’s versions of The Fly. You’ll also get to read the whole 1986 Electronic Press Kit when this movie came to theatres, you’ll get to see a featurette of the film made for the release, as well as a four-and-a-half minute profile on David Cronenberg. Don’t forget to view the one sheet and lobby card gallery while you’re still sitting there.
Lastly (and trust me this is a lot of stuff to go through!!!!!), you can view four different still galleries on publicity, behind the scenes, concept art and effects.
IN THE END…
Thankfully, all that buzz around The Fly: Collector’s Edition can be experienced by fans (The Fly II: Collector’s Edition will also be available same day). This movie doesn’t date itself unless teleportation is invented tomorrow. I am extremely happy on how this collection turned out and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Finally, a collector's edition that feels like a collector's edition...I know you know what I mean. The video and audio are awesome and the special features are top-notch; there's nothing to complain about with this release.
I’ve been hearing rumours for years about a future remake of the fly remake (??) and the possibility that this collector’s edition was held off to be timed for its release. But I am one of those people that hope that a remake isn’t true because this movie feels perfect the way it is. I can’t imagine anyone other than Goldblum as Seth Brundle; he really plays the part perfectly. So if you can, make sure that this DVD is #1 on your shopping list because it’s a collector’s edition you can’t let fly by you (Bzzz).