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George At 

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The Fly II

David Cronenberg's 1986 horror thriller "The Fly" is a modern classic, anchored by Jeff Goldblum's intense performance and Cronenberg's sure hand.

Alas, 1989's sequel THE FLY II is a gross but weak pretender, mired in a silly, rambling story that stumbles until its final half hour.

Eric Stoltz (Mask) stars as Martin Brundle, the son of Goldblum and Geena Davis in the original. Davis wisely declined to return as Veronica after reading the script.

Early scenes feature Harley Cross as a very young Martin, who appears to be a very precocious 10 at about 2 years old. This part of the film plays like a family friendly 80's comic thriller, with Cross crawling around in air ducts with a giant self-made helmet.

It's a pretty jarring tone shift when 5 year old Martin (now played by Stoltz) discovers gruesome animal medical experiments in the lab where he's been raised.

The great Lee Richardson (Network, Prizzi's Honor) is wasted as the owner of the science conglomerate exploring the teleportation pods left by Goldblum's senior Brundle.

Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs) emerges mostly unscathed. She's pretty good, especially playing off of Stoltz, who comes off like a blank wall, even under every evolving makeup. Stoltz famously got fired from "Back to the Future" after a few days filming and replaced by Michael J. Fox. I found myself wishing Fox would have taken this role over too, it's begging for a little "Teen Wolf".

It's surprising how bad the writing is, with folks like Mick Garris (Hocus Pocus) and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) having crafted the screenplay. They do have some mildly interesting ideas for the final 25 minutes or so, but they get lost in very clumsy physical effects from Chris Walas, who did much better work for "Gremlins".

This was understandably Walas's only major film in the director's chair.

Barely grossing more than half of the original at the box office, this unnecessary sequel never generated any buzz and bumbles its way along to a D.

Talk about diminishing returns.....

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