2017 may fast be becoming the year of the remake but even by modern moviedom’s ever-declining standards, the plans to reboot The Fly look misguided at best.
David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of the 1958 Kurt Neumann film of the same name remains arguably the pinnacle of the Canadian filmmaker’s career to date.
Fusing ground-break special effects with social commentary, Cronenberg’s version of The Fly brought the concept of a half-man, half-insect buzzing into modernity, with the film serving as part body horror, part analogy for painful process of disease itself.
It also served as the perfect demonstration of why practical special effects will always outlive their computer animated counterparts, with the transformation and disintegration of Jeff Goldblum’s body as Martin Brundle as vividly rendered today as it was then.
In lead actors Goldblum and Geena Davis, Cronenberg also successfully imbued what, in the wrong hands, would have be a solely schlocky premise with an emotive heart that made audiences care about the characters involved.
Quite what Fox is hoping to achieve with a reboot is anyone’s guess.
According to Deadline, the production giants are already in talks with up-and-coming director J.D. Dillard about taking on the project.
Dillard won rave reviews for his directorial debut, last year’s Sleight, which won rave reviews at Sundance.
Co-written by Alex Theurer, who is likely to be on board for the new version of The Fly, it told the story of a young magician’s attempts at saving his sister from a gang of hoodlums, using the tricks of his trade.
A refreshing tale in Hollywood’s increasingly predictable stable of films, it’s nevertheless a far cry from what many will expect from The Fly.
And that’s where the problem lies, because while Theurer is more than capable of making an excellent movie out of the story of The Fly, it’s difficult to see how he could better Cronenberg’s – at best it will be an equal but even that looks a tall order.
For starters, the film is likely to have a much tighter filming schedule, meaning many of the more time-consuming practical effects will be replaced with CGI.
It’s an approach that previously proved disastrous in 2011’s reboot of The Thing, a film that swapped out the practical, real horror of John Carpenter’s 1982 classic for something decided cartoonish.
Much like the 2011 version of The Thing, any new edition of The Fly is unlikely to be able to match Cronenberg’s movie for the sheer gore factor and any Brundlefly movie that fails to address the real horror of the protagonist’s transformation is doomed to failure.
With studio execs pushing for 12A ratings or, if Theurer is lucky, a 15, the violence and sheer horror of the tale is likely to be played down – alienating fans of the 1986 version in the process.
It’s also going to be very difficult to find someone who can match Goldblum’s inspired performance – the best of his career – something that holds the entire film together.
Theurer could yet prove us wrong and deliver a solid sci-fi tale, but there are plenty of warnings from history he should heed.
For starters, there’s the Fly II, the sequel made without Cronenberg’s input that proved to be a shambolic, scattergun of a movie that overcomplicated the original’s plot and failed to capitalise on much of what made the original so good.
Theurer should also be wary of taking on a film this big, so early in his career.
Back in 2012, Josh Trank was rightly regarded as one of the most exciting directors in Hollywood after wowing with his directorial debut Chronicle.
Three years later, however, and he was better known for delivering Fantastic Four, a horribly misguided entry into the current superhero canon that suffered greatly from studio interference and proved a step too far for Trank.
Theurer faces a tricky path ahead. He should probably be afraid. Be very afraid.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.