The Fly Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Fly flutters down at 1080p using the MPEG-4 codec at it's original 1.85:1 ratio and it's good to see Fox using this enhanced codec rather than the earlier MPEG-2 system. Bear in mind though that The Fly is now 20+ years old and as such you shouldn't be expecting too much from the quality. Overall it's pretty soft and never quite catches that wow appeal of more recent releases; it's certainly not as sharp as it might have been.
The print itself is in good enough shape with no dropouts in brightness nor any major damage and grain whilst apparent is not as bad as some releases from the same period. Contrast bears up well enough but the whites never look that stunning and quite frankly the blacks could have been so much better appearing at times rather murky and not solid as such.
Detail is better than I have ever seen this film though including the backgrounds at the initial press party, Brundle's stroll through the bustling dimly lit night streets, the bar he eventually enters into, his warehouse laboratory and of course his whole body as it mutates into BrundleFly. Given a clean up and further remastering there is no doubt that more could become apparent from this feature and hopefully Fox will grace us with such at some future point.
Colours are pretty much spot on with facial tones coming across well and the detail in Brundle's computer display more defined over it's bleeding SD counterpart. On the whole the print and transfer is better than the SD disc there's no doubt about that but not leaps and bounds above it.
SoundOn this disc there is only the one English track and that comes to us using the DTS-HD Master Audio codec. This is by far an improvement over it's earlier incarnation with added depth and weight to the dialogue and Howard Shore's excellent score.
Dialogue is pristine and locked in the centre with never a syllable missed at any point even through the deep low bass of the score as it thunders into your room. It is the score itself which provides most of the audio workout with predominantly low tones the order of the game. It goes consistently deep and much deeper than most scores I have heard. It suits the dramatic nature of the film and as mentioned certainly adds weight to the proceedings.
Surrounds are rarely used and that's somewhat of a shame because there are so many opportunities to do so. Again I can't really fault the audio transfer for this though more a criticism of the source material. The teleportation sequences do allow the surrounds to kick in and there is slight use from the earlier press party sequence but that's about it really and is so much of a missed opportunity. Ultimately like the video this could have been so much better, once you're engrossed in the film it doesn't matter too much but at times you do feel it's lacking somewhat.
ExtrasExpecting the usual Fox limited extra set from their back catalogue I was more than pleasantly surprised at what they have literally crammed onto this disc.
- Commentary with David Cronenberg.
A pretty good commentary track if not a little dry at times due to the Cronenberg's sometimes monotonous delivery. It covers all that is required including an extensive discussion between the original and his own outing, what attracted him to the script and the slant that he felt he had to put on it.
- Fear of the Flesh : The Making of The Fly. - 02:16:02
This is where the good stuff resides in this extensive extra compilation, everything that you ever wanted to know about this film is included here from the original discussions through to the actors chosen, the special effects, make up and the final product. Longer than the film itself it's everything anyone could have wished for from a documentary.
- The Brundle Museum of Natural History. - 0:11:52
This is another worthwhile watch as it shows a collection of props used from the film, it's interesting to see how the fly itself evolved from early models to what is finally on screen.
- Deleted Scenes.
A collection of deleted scenes including one which never managed to even make it to the cutting room floor as it wasn't even shot in the first place. The jewel in the crown though has to be the infamous baboon - cat amalgamation where we see Brundle testing out his gene splicing ideas. In some ways it should have been left in the film really but there's one aspect about it I never quite enjoyed and that was the actual final product of the baboon/cat creature. It obviously comes across weak and not very well designed. Still it's finally good to have seen this addition.
- Film Tests. - 0:09:48
A collection of film tests including the opening title sequence, the telepod lighting effects (they should have kept the argon laser lighting in my opinion), make-up, the final exploding sequence and how this was realised with different explosives and of course Cronenberg himself donning wings and feelers to scale the impressive rotating set.
- Promotional Materials. - 0:10:06
Another collection this time trailers, TV Spots, a short EPK and galleries including lobby cards.
- Written Works.
This is an absolute gem and one rarely found on any disc extras. On screen and navigating page by page via your remote control you can actually read the original short story, Pogue's initial screenplay and the redraft by Cronenberg. A welcome addition and should be featured more in my opinion. Also included are a selection of magazine articles.
- Still Galleries.
Again navigated via your remote you can browse some images of the production, art and publicity.
- Trivia Track.
A standard it seems for Fox release, whilst watching the film pieces of information pop up on your screen and here they come thick and fast. It's the usual ensemble, production notes, actors initially desired to play the part, funding. Good enough but the other extras here cover all you really need to know.
- Java Fly Swatter Game.
A throw away Java game, again really unplayable where a fly pops up at random intervals throughout the film and you have to use your remote to highlight it and swat the damn thing. If you pass 30 seconds on this then kudos to you, I find them far too infuriating.
The list goes ever on it seems, there's also the ability to fine tune your bookmarks with an indexed search and of all the discs I have had the pleasure of reviewing perhaps only Zodiac beats it to the punch. What we have here is extensive and pertinent information that any fan of the film will soak up. Expecting nothing more than the bare bones it's a joy to see what's been included in a back catalogue release and it makes you wonder why Fox don't do it for all of their discs. Anyway hats off to them here for including everything you could have asked for.
VerdictThe video and audio could definitely be improved and for a film which is highly regarded and has the stature of The Fly then Fox should really sit down and put some effort into re-releaseing a pristine version, the fans would immediately snap it up. In saying that the video and audio are improved but you know someone could squeeze more life out of this film.
As a set the disc can't be faulted, it has everything you could want and is superb value for money as there's so much material to get through. That material though is not throw away stuff, some of the extras themselves you could go back to on many occasions. To take it all in in one sitting is asking a little too much of anyone.
The film, it's production values, the actors and that excellent score all speak for themselves and this is why The Fly's popularity will continue for many years to come. A stepping stone in this director's work and a welcome addition to his arsenal and a welcome addition to my collection. Any horror fan should have this in theirs and yet saying that it's more a character based movie where there just happens to be some horror thrown in. It is this which gives The Fly depth and this is why I encourage anyone to at least see this film if not add it to their own collection.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
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- Commentary with David Cronenberg.