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Film / The Fly II

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The Fly II is the 1989 sequel to David Cronenberg's remake The Fly.

After the events of the previous film, Veronica Quaife, the lover of the late mutated scientist Seth Brundle, is carrying his child. They've been put into the care of Bartok Industries, the Mega-Corp specializing in genetic research which initially financed Brundle's experiments. Its CEO Anton Bartok allows Veronica to die during delivery to obtain the baby. Naming the boy Martin, the child begins to develop at an accelerated rate. When Martin has physically become a young man, the mutations start to return, and he becomes a threat to those around him.

In 2015, IDW Publishing released a five issue comicbook sequel to the film titled The Fly: Outbreak, which follows Martin as he accidentally causes more genetic mishaps.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: Features more gun-related action scenes than the first film, and Martinfly is more formidable than his sickly Brundlefly father.
  • Actor Allusion: Eric Stoltz's character's name is Martin Brundle, and the creature he transforms into is nicknamed "Martinfly." Eric was originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, until he was replaced by Michael J. Fox. Interestingly enough, Jeff Goldblum, who played Martin's father Seth in the original 1986 film, was considered for the role of Doc Brown in Back to the Future also until he was replaced by his The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension co-star Christopher Lloyd.
  • The Alcoholic: Stathis Borans, as a result of his maiming at Seth's hands in the first movie and Veronica's death.
  • And I Must Scream: This is the poor mutated dog's fate, at least until Martin learns what's happened to it. Bartok's karmic end has him reduced to a hideously deformed mutant crawling around in that same pit, pitifully squirming around, and barely able to even feed himself.
  • Ascended Extra: Bartok Industries. The company was only mentioned offhand a few times in the original movie as being Seth’s financial backer, while it serves as the centerpiece of the sequel.
  • Asshole Victim: Pretty much everyone Martin kills after his transformation, especially the two scientists, who despite having raised him since birth never saw him as anything more than a lab rat and treated him like crap.
  • Audience Shift: Due to a new head at 20th Century Fox who hadn't seen its predecessor (according to producer Stuart Cornfeld), co-writer Mick Garris says, "The studio wanted a teenage monster movie". So, rather than exploring such concepts as "insect politics" in an adults-only manner, this film — while still extremely gory — is a thematically Lighter and Softer story with clear-cut heroes and villains and a climax that encourages the audience to root for the monster.
  • Bad Boss: When Bartok is informed that Martinfly has killed several members of his security staff, he scoffs it off with a dismissive "How tragic" before again insisting on capturing Martinfly alive.
  • Big Bad: Anton Bartok.
  • Big "NO!": Bartok when Martinfly drags him into the telepod with him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Anton Bartok acts like a kind father figure to Martin and is very much the only person there who treats him kindly. But it's all a lie; he only sees Martin as a useful tool for his corporate interests.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Unlike its predecessor, this one has a significant body count. See also Lighter and Softer below, in consideration of this being an extremely rare case of simultaneously counting for both tropes.
  • Body Horror: The dog, though averted with Martin's transformation, as most of it takes place in a cocoon. Bartok isn't so lucky...
  • Child Prodigy: By the time he's mentally and physically become a preteen, Martin is bored by all the intellectual testing he's being put through by his overseers because it's all too easy for him and prefers to work on his own projects. He is able to hack into computers and create his own security badge to explore Zone 4.
  • Composite Character: Like Philipe Delambre from Return of the Fly, Martin is the son of the original scientist who becomes a second fly-monster. His name and mutant aging condition seems to come from from Martin Delambre of Curse of the Fly, the scientist's grandson.
  • Credits Gag: The traditional 20th Century Fox fanfare is absent in favor of the buzzing of a fly.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Doubly so for Martin compared to his father, since his Martinfly form, while inhuman, turns out to be a coherent, seemingly healthy lifeform instead of a diseased, deformed mishmash of genetic goo (possibly due to being born with the fly genes instead of having them abruptly inserted into him as an adult). He's much more of a werefly / alien lifeform than the diseased corpse-like wreck Seth ended up turning into in the first film.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Despite not being able to get the telepod to work with organic matter without Martin's assistance, the device still worked properly with inorganic material. It could easily have been scaled up to allow bulk transport of resources from one end of the country, or even the world, to the other. Bartok Industries could have made billions by patenting the device they had and just slapped a warning label on it that the device did not work on living things.
  • Death by Childbirth / Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Veronica at the beginning.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Granted, it's likely that it did legitimate damage, but Bartok is done in by Martinfly after the latter feigns fatal damage from Bartok's gunshot, letting Bartok get close enough so that he could grab and drag him into the telepod.
  • Dramatic Shattering: When Martin turns 5/20, Anton Bartok tells him that he will no longer be confined to the monitored room he's grown up in. Martin decides to smash the room's one-way window (tossing a bottle of champagne at it) to mark the event, with the approval of the others.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In stark contrast to the first movie, this time around Martinfly becomes completely human by merging himself with Bartok (who ends up far worse off than Martinfly for this) and thus Martin can live happily ever after with Beth — especially if this erases the Rapid Aging issue.
  • Evil Gloating: Scorby is a petty asshole security guard who stops to laugh at Martin and gloat about taping him and Beth in bed. Martin takes the opportunity to grab him, throw him through a window and escape.
  • Eye Scream: At one point, during his transformation, Martin pulls out his right eye to reveal an insect eye behind it. Martin whilst a mutant also destroys a Security Officer's eyes by vomiting acid into his face.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Once Beth becomes Martin's assistant, this is combined with a Hard-Work Montage. In between his working on figuring out how to correctly program the telepods, they spend their free time together — i.e., slow dancing to a kd lang song in the room the pods are kept in.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Red Shirt security guard Mackenzie has his face and eyes melted by the mutated Martin's acid and survives by reflexively ripping off the affected portions before it can completely eat through his head. However, given he can't see or speak, his fellow guards upon finding him call for a medic even though he would've been better off dying, though thankfully for him, he probably did die of his injuries eventually, considering the amount of blood loss, possible brain damage and to top it all off, the fact that he was stepped on by Martin whilst he was a giant monster.
  • Generation Xerox: Justified to a certain extent: From the get-go it's clear that Martin is doomed to undergo a Slow Transformation into a monster due to being the son of Seth Brundle. But that doesn't fully explain how he also is as socially awkward and intellectually brilliant as his father, proving to be the only person who can make the telepods work as intended. On top of that, he falls in love with a beautiful brunette who helps him with that project, likes how Endearingly Dorky he is, and does not reject him when he begins to mutate. They also visit the sole surviving member of the previous film's Love Triangle in hopes of getting aid from him. The good news for Martin is that due to being born a mutant with more human DNA than his father ended up with, even with his transformation he does not undergo a Protagonist Journey to Villain and ends up becoming completely human, allowing him and Beth to be together.
  • The Grotesque: In contrast to his father's mutation, Martin's transformation retains his sanity, intellect, and sense of morals.
  • Happy Ending Override: Not that the first film ended happily by any means, but it gets even worse for Veronica and Stathis in this one: Veronica dies in childbirth and Stathis turns into a drunken Jerkass Woobie due to the pain of losing her.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Combined with a Falling-in-Love Montage (see above).
  • Hate Sink: Anton Bartok, the head of Bartok Industries, is the human face of corporate and scientific cruelty. Having previously funded Seth Bundle's experiments, he tricks Seth's lover Veronica into giving birth to Seth’s mutant offspring, to Barton's apathy. Raising the child Martin, as seemingly affectionate father figure, Bartok plans to exploit both Martin's genius to recreate the Brundle's telepods, as well as Martin's inborn mutation. Infamously, Bartok kept a dog mutated by his experiment alive and in agony for years, lying to Martin about having it put down. Fittingly, when the transformed Martin goes on a vengeful rampage against Bartok, he picks Bartok to be the one to swap him mutant genes within the perfected telepods. This leaves Martin cured and Bartok a miserable mutated monstrosity, kept prisoner by his former company.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Martin before and after transforming.
  • Honor Before Reason: Martin discovers he can cure himself, but only if he uses a healthy human donor. He absolutely refuses to subject another person to what he's going through. The whole truth about Bartok's actions, though, make it easy for him to reconsider this position!
  • Horrifying Hero: Martin's final form might be a horrifying mash up of fly and human, but he's in complete control of himself and still a good guy.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: As a Child Prodigy Martin figures out that the "mirror" in his room is a one-way observation window and reveals this to one of the scientists with him at the time. As an adult, when he learns from Beth that his bedroom (and likely his whole house) was bugged, he tears it apart to find the hidden camera. When he does, he not only glares into it — to the alarm of the security staff — but spits on its lens.
  • It Can Think: Even in his monstrous form, Martinfly still possesses his human intellect, enough to demonstrate his mind has not been affected by the transformation. He understands how Bartok's technology works, he uses trickery to get the jump on his enemies, and even pets a dog that poses no threat to him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Anton Bartok, the Big Bad, who let Martin undergo his transformation and finish the teleporter for his own greedy ends, is ultimately fused with Martin's insect genes through the teleporter, turning him to a hideously deformed mutant. It becomes even more karmic when the epilogue reveals that he's been placed in the same pit the mutated dog was earlier in the movie. It would have been even more so had the original scripted ending been shot: Mutant!Bartok would have begged the now completely human Martin to kill him, only for Martin to shake his head, say "Sorry, dad" and feed him the slop he eats in the last scene.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Martin's girlfriend Beth bears a rather striking resemblance to his late mother Veronica. Which is especially odd considering that Martin only met his mother for a few seconds before her Death by Childbirth, though the film does show Martin displaying superhuman memory skills even as a toddler.
  • Lighter and Softer: An exceptionally rare case of being both this trope and Bloodier and Gorier; while much more overt violence and death occurs here compared to the original, the storyine is much more standard fare for a monster movie and has something resembling a happy ending, as opposed to the deeply, emotionally distressing existential horror and hopelessness of its predecessor.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Unlike his father, who had his genes mashed together and became a strong but sickly and misshapen monstrosity, Martin Brundle is a naturally formed Half-Human Hybrid, leaving his mind more lucid and his body healthier and more viable. He is remarkably fast and able to leap great distances, strong enough to fold a man in half (backwards), and a gunshot wound to the torso hardly slows him down, if he wasn't outright feigning injury.
  • Mercy Kill: Martin does this to the mutated dog to spare it further pain. It nonetheless devastates him.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Averted, as Martinfly is far less mashed-up than his father. Also justified, as Martinfly is at least 75% human.
  • Mook Horror Show: The last leg of the film plays out like a typical horror film with a rampaging monster killing everyone, but in this cast the monster is the hero giving his victims their just desserts.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The protagonist is named after Martin Brundle, a Formula One driver. It's the same source of Seth's last name in the original film, although there it was used as an ironic in-joke as Seth suffered from chronic motion sickness from childhood and this was implied to be a reason he became interested in teleportation technology, as it would eliminate a need for vehicles.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: While Bartok Science Industries was able to restore the dearly departed Seth Brundle's telepods even after the damage they took in the climax of the first film, the programming needed for them to teleport organic/living matter intact is said to have "died with him." With the company's scientists unable to figure it out for themselves, Anton Bartok convinces the comparably intelligent Martin to finish his father's work. A cut scene specifies the programming is actually incomplete because Stathis Borans, who never forgave Seth for what became of both him and Veronica Quaife, deliberately destroyed the relevant material. Once he figures out the secret of teleporting "the flesh", Martin turns this trope to his advantage by not revealing it or the password that activates the teleportation sequence, even ensuring that all of the pods' programming will be wiped if they try and fail to guess the latter.
  • No Social Skills: Martin is intellectually brilliant but socially awkward by the time he's physically and mentally matured into a young adult. Since he's spent all of his life under observation by Anton Bartok and his heartless underlings, and Rapid Aging meant having peers around was out of the question, he never had an opportunity to form emotional and social attachments to anyone besides Anton (who is faking it) and the ill-fated dog. Beth quickly comes to like him once they meet, though, finding his curious and polite nature appealing.
  • One Password Attempt Ever: Bartok Industries scientists attempt to activate Martin's telepods when he escapes. This is actually a case of Two Password Attempts Ever, because when they give the wrong password at the computer's prompt of WHAT'S THE MAGIC WORD?, it gives them another chance, telling them, WARNING: INCORRECT RESPONSE WILL ACTIVATE TAPEWORM. Bartok understands that only Martin knows or would know the "magic word." If the wrong password is given, it will cripple the entire program without any chance of getting it back.
  • Painful Transformation: Averted in that Martin's transformation is more natural, as a deliberate counterpoint to Seth's. His body literally undergoes the life cycle of an insect — his rapidly growing human form is functionally a larvae, his deforming body the instar, he develops a cocoon / pupa, and he emerges a powerful Insect Man hybrid. The Martinfly creature is very strong, very fast, and very deadly... The opposite of his father.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Martin sets up a password to protect the telepods; an incorrect guess will even delete all the programming. Though apparently having a good idea of the correct answer, Bartok doesn't want to take any chances. At the conclusion of the rampage, Martinfly (by way of Bartok) types up the magic word: "DAD."
  • People in Rubber Suits: As Martin's transformation continues on the road, and especially as his chrysalis forms, his appearance is realized in this manner.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Martinfly literally pets a dog in the middle of his murderous rampage through the facility!
    • Another example, albeit a less literal one, is Martinfly sparing Beth Logan, his love interest, when he encounters her at one point. All of this suggests that Martin's mind is largely unchanged despite his body's metamorphosis.
    • Even though he transitions to being a straight Jerkass (though understandably a pitiful one), Stathis still has some Jerk with a Heart of Gold qualities left inside him. His last words towards Martin and Beth are to find a cure after Martin makes it clear the Telepods are his only chance for one. He also offers his jeep to prevent them being easily tracked down by Bartok.
  • Pupating Peril: Late into the film, Martin cocoons himself and, unlike the pathetic final form of his father, emerges as a perfect man-fly fusion that has Super-Strength, can leap great distances, shrugs off bullets, and spits acid. However, despite his now monstrous appearance, he retains his intelligence and morality, focusing his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against people who really had it coming.
  • Raised in a Lab: Martin Brundle was raised in a laboratory at Bartok Industries since he was the only offspring of the mutated scientist Seth Brundle and his lover Veronica Quaife, and the CEO who funded Seth's experiments wanted to observe how Martin's dormant fly genes would manifest themselves.
  • Rapid Aging: Martin ages at four times the normal human rate. He knows that this is abnormal; he just isn't aware of the actual cause. Bartok and his underlings tell him that he inherited a rapid aging disorder ("Brundle's Accelerated Growth Syndrome") from his father, who ultimately succumbed to it. It is "controlled" by their (phony) injections, while Martin eventually uses the restored telepods to work on finding a cure for it. Only later does Martin learn the awful truth. This may or may not have been inspired by a plot point from Curse of the Fly: The male lead of that movie actually suffered from this because their father's temporary transformation into a Half-Human Hybrid permanently affected his genetic makeup, and had to control it via injections. That male lead's name? Martin.
  • Recycled Premise: Of Return of the Fly, the direct sequel to the 1958 film. Both have the Spin-Offspring son of the predecessor's ill-fated scientist (who has spent much of his life unaware of exactly what happened to him) reviving his father's work and ending up undergoing much the same transformation he did — much to the despair of his girlfriend, and no thanks to a seemingly supportive figure (an assistant in the older film) who wants to steal the teleportation technology. He goes after the villains, and gets the happy ending his father could not. There are even similar small details: Both movies open with a scene establishing the demise of the female lead of the predecessor (in '58 with her funeral and in '89 with her Death by Childbirth), while the third corner of the previous film's Love Triangle is still alive, not enthused with the son picking up where the father left off but proving to be helpful nonetheless, and played by their original actor. The main differences lie in the nature of each protagonist's transformation — with Phillipe in Return of the Fly it's another Teleporter Accident; with Martin here it's a natural Metamorphosis due to being born as a mutant — and the level of gore involved. Someone in 20th Century Fox's marketing department must have noticed this trope because the final trailer for this movie opens with a spiel involving the sound of a buzzing fly and the audience being asked if they can hear it — a verbatim lift from the Return of the Fly trailer!
  • Research, Inc.: Bartok Industries.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Martinfly goes on an epic one through Bartok Industries.
  • Science Hero's Babe Assistant: Beth doesn't do much as Martin's assistant aside from Supporting the Monster Loved One in the second half (the road trip to flee Bartok's goons, in particular, ends up doing little); she could easily be written out of the story. Her big contribution to the climax is pressing a button, and only because (unlike his dad) Martin hasn't programmed an automatic teleportation sequence for the telepods. Compare her to Veronica, who subverted this trope in the first film to the point of being its Deuteragonist.
  • Series Continuity Error: Martin learns what really happened to his father via the latter's explanation to Veronica when he allowed her to see him again after a month's estrangement on his part, recycling some footage from the first film in the process. Trouble is, that wasn't videotaped in-universe.
  • The Sleepless: Martin doesn't sleep at all until he's matured into an adult body, whereupon he starts sleeping one to two hours at a time. This may or may not be an early sign of his mutant genes beginning to show in earnest. (In the previous film, in the early stages of his transformation Seth mentioned in passing that he was now this.)
  • Spiteful Spit: When Martin finds the hidden camera in his apartment, he spits on its lens, knowing that the security staff will see this and know that he's angry.
  • Starring Special Effects: Once Martinfly emerges from his chrysalis, he's "played" by animatronic puppets. The trope also applies to the minor part of the mutated dog.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: At least when one compares what becomes of Martin to what became of his father. The Motion Picture Guide's review snarkily pointed out that in this movie, the sins of the father being visited on the son leads to, despite racking up a significant body count and leaving Anton Bartok a helpless mutant, Martin getting a happy ending as a fully-human being. By comparison, Seth maimed two people and attempted a forced fusion with Veronica — the latter of which was the moment he fully become a monster in all senses of the term — and paid for that with his life when Laser-Guided Karma came calling.
  • Sergeant Rock: Scorby, despite being an obnoxious bully to Martin and Beth who abused his power as Bartok's Chief of Security (such as checking out Beth in the nude when she sex with Martin and when she was examined for contamination), seems to genuinely care about his fellow Security Officers more than he does about the interests of the Company, and put up quite a fight against the mutated Martin before being killed.
  • Teen Genius: Martin grows from a Child Prodigy into this, with his 5th birthday in years coinciding with his 20th birthday in physical/mental development.
  • Token Romance: Martin and Beth's Generation Xerox romance is largely padding for Act Two and could easily be excised for all its effect on the conflict between Martin and Anton Bartok, made evident by how little she has to do in Act Three. It's especially noticeable because the first movie's love story was not this trope.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Dr. Shephard, who didn't have the sense to go somewhere else besides the basement where Martinfly is.
    • Bartok's stubborn refusal to let Martinfly be killed despite having already injured or killed several people.
    • A security guard who didn't have the good sense to wait for backup or simply look up leads to his face and one of his hands getting melted off.
    • Scorby's jerkass tendencies and poor trigger discipline leads to a scientist's death while trying to kill Martinfly.
  • Uneven Hybrid: This movie confirms that Seth and Veronica conceived Martin after Seth's mutation into a Half-Human Hybrid. That Martin is at least 75% human is crucial to the plot; as inhuman-looking and ruthless as he becomes, he's also able to retain his human mind.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Bartok and Co assumed that Martinfly would be like his father, who wasn't actually that much of a threat against anything more than a untrained man with a shotgun, and needed the element of surprise. When Martinfly emerges, unlike his father, he is a pure hybrid, rather than a genetic mishmash. Martinfly is a powerful, towering monster, with all of his mental faculties intact, with none of the weaknesses that were present in his father. Bartok orders a capture, and it backfires horribly because Martinfly cannot be stopped.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Martinfly vomits on a security guard, and his face melts off. The guard barely survives by tearing off his own face before the vomit can kill him.
  • Younger Than They Look: Martin Brundle ages to Mr. Fanservice level in five years!