Tag Archives: Daphne Zuniga

The Fly II (1989, Chris Walas)

One of the great tragedies for soap operas has to be Fly II director Chris Walas being too good with special effects–his company does them on the film–to have to direct soap operas. With the exception of these high angle shots of impossibly expansive sets, presumably to emulate thirties horror films, Walas is a supremely mediocre director. There isn’t a single good shot in The Fly II, but there isn’t a bad shot either.

It’s a shame, really, because it gives the film a curiosity value. Walas’s painfully competent presentation of the truly insipid script never entertains or engages, but one finds him or herself transfixed. How dumb can it get next.

Sadly, there are only two good performances in the film. Daphne Zuniga isn’t as bad as everyone else, which isn’t a compliment, but both Harley Cross and John Getz are good. Getz is in a scene or two, reprising from the original, and he’s having a good time and cashing a paycheck. Cross is the lead character as a ten year-old and is actually quite good. If The Fly II were some crazy story about a ten year-old boy-fly, it’d be a lot more entertaining.

But Walas can’t direct actors. Inexplicably, he’s got lousy actors in the film. Ann Marie Lee and Garry Chalk are real bad as the sub-villains, while Lee Richardson gives it a very “Days of Our Lives” vibe as Mr. Big.

And Eric Stoltz is an anemic lead.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Chris Wales; screenplay by Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat and Frank Darabont, based on a story by Garris and characters created by George Langelaan; director of photography, Robin Vidgeon; edited by Sean Barton; music by Christopher Young; production designer, Michael S. Bolton; produced by Steven-Charles Jaffe; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Eric Stoltz (Martin), Daphne Zuniga (Beth), Lee Richardson (Bartok), Harley Cross (10 year old Martin), Garry Chalk (Scorby), Ann Marie Lee (Jainway), Frank C. Turner (Shepard) and John Getz (Stathis).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | THE FLY (1986) / THE FLY II (1989).

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Vision Quest (1985, Harold Becker)

Linda Fiorentino might be a year older than Matthew Modine back she's supposed to be playing a worldly twenty-one year-old to his eighteen year-old high school senior in Vision Quest and they sure don't look it. Modine looks about twenty-four, his age at the time of filming. Fiorentino looks twenty-one. She isn't the problem with the film (she nearly makes it worth a look on her own).

The problem isn't even Modine, who's very earnest, just physically unable to portray his character. The problem's Darryl Ponicsan's awkward script. The film's technically perfect–great photography from Owen Roizman, great editing from Maury Winetrobe–and Becker does compose his shots well, he just can't make the script work. It's superficial and set back; Modine's barely got a character to play. All of his character relationships are a joke–Ponicsan implies people other than Modine having stories, but Fiorentino's the only one to pull it off–even though the supporting cast is superb.

Wait, Michael Schoeffling gets an impossible role. A better script would juxtapose Schoeffling and Modine, both growing up without mothers, except Ponicsan wants to fixate on Modine's asinine crush on Fiorentino. Even more inexplicable is why Fiorentino would go for Modine.

But Ronny Cox, Harold Sylvester, Charles Hallahan and J.C. Quinn are all really good as the adults around Modine. His obvious not-teenage age isn't their fault.

The approach–focusing on Modine, letting everything else be background–would work if the background were well-done. It isn't.

The soundtrack–top forties, lame Tangerine Dream–doesn't help.

Fiorentino's fantastic, however.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Harold Becker; screenplay by Darryl Ponicsan, based on the novel by Terry Davis; director of photography, Owen Roizman; edited by Maury Winetrobe; music by Tangerine Dream; production designer, Bill Malley; produced by Peter Guber and Jon Peters; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Matthew Modine (Louden Swain), Linda Fiorentino (Carla), Michael Schoeffling (Kuch), Ronny Cox (Louden’s Dad), Harold Sylvester (Tanneran), Charles Hallahan (Coach), Daphne Zuniga (Margie Epstein) and J.C. Quinn (Elmo).


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Gross Anatomy (1989, Thom E. Eberhardt)

Gross Anatomy is harmless and diverting. It’s got some good performances–Christine Lahti is fantastic, Matthew Modine barely does any work and is solid as the lead. The supporting cast has some bright points (Alice Carter and John Scott Clough), but it’s also got Daphne Zuniga.

Now, Anatomy is a big bright Touchstone movie. It’s less realistic than a Disney cartoon in terms of characterizations and so on. But at least everyone is being earnest–even Todd Field, who gets the short end of the script–but Zuniga is just atrocious. She’s not believable for one second, which isn’t a damning feature of the film… until the last scene, when she gets the final moment. That abject misfire is why I’m hostile towards the film. It’s such a terrible moment, it undoes whatever competence came before.

Speaking of competence, director Eberhardt, who initially seemed like he wasn’t bringing anything particular to the film, impressed me once I noticed he has a way of holding the shot. He gives the actors time to do something. Modine’s playing this intentionally bland character, but Eberhardt’s direction gives him time to think. Even though the script’s contrived, Modine is a good enough actor, he’s able to use that extra camera time to make an honest moment.

Lisa Zane shows up briefly at one point as a diversion for Modine (from Zuniga). Maybe without Zane’s clearly excellent acting ability, Zuniga wouldn’t seem so bad.

Gross Anatomy probably plays a lot better on TV.

Good score from David Newman.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Thom E. Eberhardt; screenplay by Ron Nyswaner and Mark Spragg, based on a story by Spragg, Howard Rosenman, Alan Jay Glueckman and Stanley Isaacs; director of photography, Steve Yaconelli; edited by Bud S. Smith and M. Scott Smith; music by David Newman; production designer, William F. Matthews; produced by Debra Hill and Howard Rosenman; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Matthew Modine (Joe Slovak), Daphne Zuniga (Laurie Rorbach), Christine Lahti (Dr. Rachel Woodruff), Todd Field (David Schreiner), John Scott Clough (Miles Reed), Alice Carter (Kim McCauley), Robert Desiderio (Dr. Banks) and Zakes Mokae (Dr. Banumbra).


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Spaceballs (1987, Mel Brooks)

It’s kind of amazing how much of Spaceballs is actually funny–pretty much everything with Rick Moranis and Mel Brooks as the Spaceballs president–given how everything with Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga falls flat. It doesn’t even fall… it’s a zero degree plane. Some of it has to do with the writing of that portion–Brooks and his co-writers aren’t particularly interested in the good guys because they aren’t funny (the jokes are cheap and substandard and Brooks tries to give it a narrative–and romantic tension–instead of playing against narrative for laughs, like the Moranis parts). But it’s not all poor writing–Pullman’s terrible and Zuniga’s worse, giving one of the abysmal performances in a Hollywood studio film from the 1980s.

There aren’t any good performances on the good guy side–John Candy’s probably the best, if only by comparison (he’s not good by any means and his character is unfunny) and Joan Rivers’s vocal work as the robot is obnoxious. It doesn’t help it’s obvious the robot is frequently a dummy. Brooks as the Yoda stand-in isn’t funny and the only amusing parts of his sequence (besides the Wizard of Oz reference, which is good) is trying to place the actors playing the Dinks (the Jawas). The less said about Dick Van Patten, the better.

The bad guys are all great, from Brooks as the dumb president (though it’s hard not to think he’s doing a Harvey Korman impression), George Wyner and then there’s Moranis. Moranis does something real strange in the movie, especially given the Pullman, Zuniga and Candy sequences. He acts and he acts very well.

The rest–the jokes about marketing–is hit and miss, but the real problem is Brooks tries to tie a narrative to the movie instead of just playing for laughs. It makes Spaceballs rely on Pullman and Zuniga, so it really can’t do anything but fail.

And… I really do think George Lucas ripped off the good planet’s costume designs for Episode I.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Mel Brooks; written by Brooks, Thomas Meehan and Ronny Graham; director of photography, Nick McLean; edited by Conrad Buff IV; music by John Morris; production designed by Terence Marsh; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Mel Brooks (President Skroob / Yoghurt), Rick Moranis (Dark Helmet), Bill Pullman (Lone Starr), Daphne Zuniga (Princess Vespa), John Candy (Barf), George Wyner (Colonel Sandurz), Joan Rivers as the voice of Dot Matrix, Dick Van Patten (King Roland) and Michael Winslow (Radar Technician).


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