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We just got home from seeing Aeon Flux, and for my money, it turned out
to be far better than I had expected. Ready for an action movie with
lots of leaping, jumping and hero stuff, it was all of that - but more.
It actually had a story line! And it was that story line that kept
things moving nicely along.
I think that it's relatively short length (97 minutes) also helped it from being bogged down with minutiae and having a plot that had to be mercilessly stretched beyond its limits. The scenes were crisply photographed, the special effects were enough to give the film its character WITHOUT making it a special-effects movie, per se.
Although a little thin in some parts, the dialogue was fair. The only thing I thought might have made it better was the development of some of the peripheral characters.
Charlize Theron is very versatile, and now I fully intend to see the anime of Aeon Flux.
Aeon Flux gets a bum rap from the critics due primarily to the politics of the studio / critic relationship; the studio's decision not to preview the film got the critic's undies in a bunch. But Aeon Flux turns out to be a solid B+ grade SciFi flick that is inventive, stylistic, coherent and just plain fun to watch, particularly if you are partial to an athletic incarnation of Charlize Theron in Spandex. The film is well-paced. The main characters have depth and there is "real emotion" evident in the acting, always a plus for a SciFi film. There are a few things to complain about to be sure, but they're not crucial to the plot. I enjoyed the "existential dilemma" and "identity crisis" elements that made the story interesting. I'll look forward to watching this one again in a year or two.
By far the finest film adaptation of a MTV animated short yet! Oh wait,
it also may be the only one...;)
While any review of this movie that didn't mention the inspiration would be remiss, it should be noted that Aeon Flux not only stands well on it's own, but leaps and bounds as an eclectic sci-fi tale that just happens to feature a beautiful lead actress in skin-tight outfits laying waste to suckers by the dozen.
Aeon Flux began as a component of MTV's "Liquid Television" animation showcase, where Peter Chung's drastically drawn heroine would zip across infiltrated compounds accompanied solely by the sound of rhythmic footfalls and gunfire, leaving a gory trail of slain soldiers only to meet a gory end herself. The short merited expansion into a series that added a host of profound characters and plot lines, not to mention some well-acted dialog. I was never able to catch the series in sequence, but never felt much of a need to, as the "what the hell is going on here?" feeling that I got from each episode greatly contributed to an overall feeling of "I don't really know, but it's awesome!".
Cerebral. Dynamic. Trippy. Sexy. Words that come to mind to describe the Aeon Flux flavor. I was highly doubtful that any film version could do justice to the original animation, but this movie delivered quite nicely in it's own way. The pleasant disorientation of the series remains to a degree, but the movie is also able to backfill the story behind Trevor and Aeon in a satisfying manner without dumbing down Peter Chung's unique and panoramic bio- nanotechnological science fiction.
I also wasn't sold on the idea of Charlize Theron as lethal-lightning agent Aeon Flux when I first heard she had the part, but once again, Miss Theron demonstrates her versatility and power as an actress, leaving me thinking that no one else could have played the role as well. Charlize took what could have been a hollow, eye-candy-only part and added a sublime depth while bringing the angular, scantily-clad "woman of few words" to life. Any number of hot actresses could have filled out the skimpy digs, but Charlize is able to provide the essential intrigue as well as the splendiferous ass. Add "Action Heroine" to Charlize Theron's already formidable repertoire.
Marton Csokas did a great job of capturing the odd ambiguity of Trevor Goodchild. The supporting cast all performed to par and beyond, with the end result being a memorable post-apocalyptic pseudo-utopian action cyberpunk romance. Say that five times fast! ;)
Of course there will be purists who beef about this or that not being true to whatever part of the original series, and of course there will be sanctimonious "critics" who make droll comparisons to Catwoman, but I feel that the Aeon Flux movie certainly accomplishes a potent and complimentary mix of visual and mental stimulation, and anyone who likes that sort of thing should go see this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought for sure I would be.
This is the first movie based on a TV show that I've gone out to see in a long time and for the first time, I haven't been disappointed. For anyone who remembers the original shorts from liquid TV and the following series, this film will fall snug into the sequence of the Aeon Flux story-line (such as it is). I feel that for the first time a movie like this has really captured the imagery, character, and themes of the TV show it's named after. From the script, to the directing, to even the casting, this film has really lived up to a show that I fondly remember from my college years.
When I first heard about it, I cringed at what I was convinced would be a butchering of what was an incredibly well crafted show. I thought for sure that the screenplay wouldn't blend with the series and that it would lack all of the post-modern themes that made the show so thought provoking and mind bending. I thought for sure that the characters in the movie would be the gorgeous carbon copied cliché archetypes we find in every action flik rather than the strange (in personality and looks), flawed, often torn, and questionably motivated characters that made the show so interesting. And I also assumed that this film would be so overwrought with cgi effects that I'd wonder why they didn't just make a cartoon.
I've never been so happy to say that I was wrong on all accounts. The screenplay almost seems like an episode they never made. It begins straightforward, leading into beautifully choreographed action. But just as you think you're settling into a dynamic action piece meant to leave your brain dead, the plot is twisted around, and you find yourself pondering philosophical concepts you haven't pondered since you last read Kurt Vonnegut. The characters and their motives can rarely be pinned to good & evil but more or less selfish; another concept carried over from the show.
The casting was also done with the look of the show in mind. While Theron is far more gorgeous than I ever imagined the real Aeon looking, she captures the stoic, brutal, and graceful demeanors of the series' antihero. The rest of the casting for the film is even better. The actors chosen really do resemble the images I recall from the show like the absurd hair-dos, angular facial features, full lips, and tortured expressions that make you think they're wondering if life is really worth living.
The rest of the film's look is also spectacular because it's perhaps the most realistic futuristic society I've seen on film and because the locations/sets echo the look of the original show. The cgi effects no longer resemble something out of Tron but really make you wonder if what you're looking at is computerized or on the set. This may be just the natural progression of computer effects as I noticed the same thing with the latest Harry Potter movie. The setting (while not as grand and wide as I remember) has retained the post-industrial devolution look and blended it seamlessly with the super-futuristic look of the aristocratic locations.
I feel the only thing they didn't quite get right was the sensually explicit nature of the relationship between Trevor and Aeon. I'm not saying that the movie needed a full out sex scene or anything (although it would've fit considering the theme at the end) but we don't see evidence of the mind games, competition, and fetishism that made the relationship so compelling in the TV run. I was also hoping that the score would have a few echos of the original soundtrack for the shorts and that a few more of the full episode characters would make an appearance, especially Bambara.
Overall, If you fondly remember the Aeon Flux from Mtv's Liquid TV and you liked the full episode series even more, you'll dig this film. If you like weird post modern films (like Brazil, FightClub, or Akira) that leave you thinking a couple of days after you've seen it, you'll dig this film. If you've hated every single crummy movie based on a TV series, you should really dig this film. Most of all; If you're a sci-fi fan who feels it's been far too long since you've seen a good film, get out and see this one.
When I originally heard of Aeon Flux, it sounded absolutely terrible.
The posters looked even worse. However, after seeing a trailer
somewhere, I loved the look and bright colours (being easily pleased)
and decided to give the movie a chance.
Aeon Flux is the story of a female, barely clothed rebel sent in to assassinate the ruler of a dystopian isolated city, which contains the entire remainder of mankind. Let's just say the plot is entirely unoriginal, a derivative of many other Sci-Fi movies and stories.
Charlieze Theron gets to prance around with an insect-like walk (her first appearance strongly reminded me of a praying mantis), salamander-like crawls, and other, animal-inspired, ballet-like movements. The world of Aeon Flux is drawn in bright, almost psychedelic colours, and it feels as if we glimpse only the tiniest part of this strange place. A lake of tears acts as CCTV for the entire city, pills exchanged in French kisses are used for telepathy, little pellets of liquid metal have a will of their own... A good chunk of the film is dazzling to watch, without any explanation behind it. Strictly speaking, Aeon Flux is about 80% futuristic fantasy, with very little science fiction in it. In fact, it sometimes feels as if the strangely organic gadgets of the rebels do not fit in this world - as the authorities seem to have more conventional technology and weapons.
What Aeon Flux succeeds at the most is dazzling the audience. Visually, stylistically, and with its energy and futuristic fantasy (and constantly underdressed heroine). In that, it reminds me strongly of Fifth Element - another film where we feel as if we only get a glimpse of a futuristic, colourful world full of strangely dressed people, without the need to explain or expose every aspect of it. However, Aeon Flux is less satisfying than Luc Besson's classic - because it lacks a sense of humour and takes itself too seriously (which, given the plot, is a bad move).
All in all, I would recommend the film to people who enjoy Fifth Element, bright colours, a sense of visual alienation, and unoriginal science fiction dressed up in a bright, original and almost unique coating.
This is X-Men meets Matrix. Or... this is what the Next Generation
movies could have been.
Sor far, this is the best movie I've seen all year - better than Chronicles of Narnia & Harry Potter. In the Sci-Fi world, it's a step up from Minority Report or I-Robot.
My interpretation of the negative reviews: that stuffy old white men who write the reviews (Ebert, etc) don't understand edgy movies. They didn't understand Matrix at first, either.
I didn't know there was a series before I saw the movie. People who say it didn't make sense at first are too used to brainless Hollywood flicks, serving you a formulaic plot on a platter.
This plot was not difficult to understand - the movie asks for your patience the first 30 minutes, as the story unfolds. It's a futuristic mystery, people! Get real - how lazy must you be if you lose interest because everything isn't explained immediately. It's a mildly (and pleasantly) complex story. If you want a Steven Siegal or Schwarzenegger action flick, look elsewhere.
And only the first half of the movie is the "mystery". It takes about an hour for the plot, the characters, and the futuristic setting to unfold. Then the movie evolves into a stunning action flick.
Thing I loved about this movie:
-Srong female characters -Excellent soundtrack -Extremely interesting visually -Extremely creative sci-fi contributions (like the arm-to-leg transplants) -Thoughtful cinematography -A very strong cast -Artistic sets & effects -Creative weapons & futuristic props -A truly unique story - it didn't try to copy anything (which probably confused the Hollywood lemmings out there)
My only complaint - it needed more in spots. Particularly, more character development for other members of the resistance. If you've seen it...I believe they jumped the gun getting to the last "sniper" scene. I wanted them to invest more time developing the animosity between Aeon Flux & the resistance movement.
Nonetheless, I'm hoping for a sequel. And I hope Ms Theron doesn't get depressed about some of the bad reviews. This is *nothing* like Catwoman (as Ebert said). My humble prediction: it will turn into a cult classic.
It's a bit unnerving when a studio declines to screen a film for the
press before it goes into wide release. That many movies suck is no
surprise, but when a studio itself admits as much ahead of time, the
process of movie-going becomes a passion play of sorts. Consider it an
early Christmas gift from Hollywood, then, that "Aeon Flux" isn't
nearly the affront to taste and decency one might expect, given the
above. Though ultimately overwhelmed by its flaws, it at least has
(sort of) an idea with which to toy around. Too bad director Karyn
Kusama seems to have little clue how to execute it all.
It's the future. There's been a plague. There is a dictatorship, and there are rebels. The latter are known as the Monicans, and far from being a cult of beret or tennis racket worshipers, they're into attempts to overthrow the former, called the Goodchild regime. The regime is occasionally mean to the citizenry, which is more than Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) and her pals can stand. Through some sort of biochemical virtual reality technology, the Monicans receive orders from their dear leader (Frances McDormand), a mystical priestess-type who appears to have been cross-bred with a carrot. It falls to Aeon to strap on some form-fitting, futuristic spandex get-ups to carry out the High Carrot's orders, which are of course some version of "destroy the regime." Having years earlier watched her sister get liquidated by the Goodchilds, she needs little convincing.
Not surprisingly, things get complicated. The Goodchilds might not be quite what they seem, and Aeon herself might have an unexpected history with them. Though occasionally muddled, the film's central conceit (of which I won't reveal more) contains some neat notions about the nature of human existence and survival. There's room for much more examination of which the film doesn't take advantage, but the ideas are there, at least. The big problems of "Aeon Flux" are technical. Kusama has made the baffling decision to film nearly all the action so close that we can rarely follow what's going on. To make matters worse, it's edited in a flurry of jump cuts that leave us completely lost. The result is some serious spacial disorientation that takes over the film. "Aeon Flux"'s aesthetic is one of sleek costume, oddly-angled architecture, and nimble characters. Much of the action occurs in minimalist, open spaces that beg for some unbroken long shots that might convey the grace and athleticism implied by the above. Instead, we get split seconds of flying limbs, breaking glass, and accompanying sound effects.
There is a pretty good movie trying to get out of the morass of "Aeon Flux." Put this stuff in the hands of the Wachowski brothers, say, and the results could be quite different. As it is, though, I felt like "Aeon Flux" was willfully pushing me away from a movie I wanted to enjoy. This film is unattuned to its own strengths. Like a novice poker player dealt a royal flush, it somehow finds a way to lose in spite of its potential.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you liked Logan's Run, Minority Report, and Equilibrium, and are quite familiar with the original animated series, you're gonna like this one. It's a perfectly worthwhile sci-fi action flick, high in style like a music video. Relatively faithful to the original in many spots...what was so much fun was to see a lot of Aeon's stunts done with live people. And the classic moves, including the original opening schtick which I won't give away, will have you hooting if you are a fan of the original AF series. Highest marks for some of the most creative and surreal thingamabobs and the faithful high collared costumes from the original. Granted, it's no Gone with the Wind, but it doesn't deserve the bad rep the professional critics are giving it. It's pretty clever and sumptuous...don't just wait for the DVD, it's good mindless entertainment with a lot of WOW moments for the hard boiled sci fi fan. Charlize Theron does a good job though she's probably clearly out of her league here, and if anybody gets an Oscar Nom, it should be her hairdresser.
In the animated series:
Aeon Flux was an amoral rebel that was completely detached from everything and everyone. She was cruel, selfish, loving, unpredictable, witty, caustic, confident, sarcastic, lethal, untamable, ambiguous all at once. The original Aeon had layers upon layers of depth. She almost never allowed her personal emotions to show through. The original plot was deliciously ambiguous and thought provoking. You could never tell what Aeon's motives were. Aeon was a militant anarchist whereas Trevor was a radical idealist, because of this they could never have any semblance of a stable relationship.
In the movie:
Aeon Flux works for the Monicans and her political motives and personal motives are very clear. She was pretty, loving, vulnerable, easily tamable, emotional and very predictable. The Aeon in the movie had one layer of depth at most. The plot was obvious and contrived. Everything is completely laid out for you from the beginning. There was virtually no conflict between Aeon and Trevor, at least in terms of personal philosophies. The only conflict between them was that they were on different sides.
The movie was a horrible disappointment to me. I felt betrayed. They took the idea of one of my favorite animated characters of all time, squeezed all the depth and personality out of her, and pumped her full of Hollywood clichés. The essence of the animated series was completely lost in this movie.
The only reason I'm not giving this movie a "1" is because the visuals were incredible. It was neat to see some of the familiar animated scenes like the fly in the eye done with CGI.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just got back from seeing the movie. A person could write almost 2
reviews for this movie. One designed for those who have seen Peter
Chung's shorts and series, and one designed for those who know nothing
For those who have seen the original animation: There is good news and bad. The good news being that this movie takes after the animation very little. I for one feel that the style, environment, and dialogue captured in the animated series is one best left for a medium that is more malleable than Hollywood. I refuse to believe that an animated Aeon Flux would have ever translated well with Peter Chung's vision 100% intact, and thankfully, this movie does not really make an attempt. To do so would have been campy, over-the-top, and completely disassociated fluff. Sure, there are select scenes that you can equate between the movie and animation, character names are familiar, and even some of the technology, but for the most part this is a decent example of a film that was inspired by the work of Peter Chung's animation, and NOT a film based directly from it. In short, the best way to approach this movie is with the state of mind that it is an above-average sci-fi movie with characters that simply coincidentally share names with those in Peter Chung's work. The bad news being that this movie takes after the animation very little. If you are the kind of person who is very much into Peter Chung's work, as I am, then this movie may disappoint in some areas. Charlize Theron, while playing the role capably, is missing some of the socio-philosophical demeanor that trademarks the original Aeon. The plot itself, while entertaining, is nothing that leaves you scratching your head and wondering "What the hell" as the series did.
For those who have never seen the original animation: Aeon Flux is a very stylish, action packed sci-fi movie with plenty of flash and glamour. The "technology" of the movie is rather unbelievable in some parts. However it's good to see a movie that takes risks by creating a world where, much as life 400years in the future will probably be, is unrecognizable to anything we presently associate with. Yet the world created in Aeon Flux is sometimes unbalanced. One moment you are gazing at bizarre biotechnology and inconceivable communications devices, and the next you are staring down the barrel of a very conventional gun. The characters themselves are interesting and, for the most part, well acted. The dialogue seems a little surreal at times, but again, this can be dismissed by the idea that our minds cannot possibly grasp this world 400 years in the future. Or perhaps I'm making excuses for the movie? Regardless, no matter how strange the events, dialogue, or scenery is, it seems to fit together well as a bundle. Suspension of disbelief is done fairly well in this movie even if you have to help it along at points. The plot has enough intrigue and twists to keep you guessing who the "bad guys" really are, while at the same time, you are left asking yourself if there are any "good guys" at all. In that regard, the duality and uncertainty of people, their agendas, and their goals reminds me very much of the original animation. The action sequences themselves are nice, and while there is complicated martial arts action, it never really seems as showboating - it's all very effective and rarely superfluous.
Overall, I'd give it a very conservative 6.5, which for those of you who know me, is a decent score as I am a fairly harsh critic. It's a movie I'd see again, but not want to pay full price for the second time through.
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