Aeon Flux – The Complete Animated Series
Sound: B Extras: B Episodes: B
One of the best TV series MTV ever came up with was Liquid
Television and canceling it was one of the worst mistakes in the network’s
history, along with less Videos and the end of Amp. Some very interesting projects came out of
the show, including the most commercially successful of them all, Beavis
& Butt-Head (reviewed elsewhere on this site) in their extremely
primitive stages. Another terrific and
less seen concept was created by Peter Chung, was launched in Liquid
Television’s first season and remains one of its most outstanding
highlights. It involved a very sexual,
scantily clad and able-bodied agent who could kill with extreme efficiency and
was on a mission of importance. It was
called Aeon Flux.
The first season offered only six two-minute installments
and she was killed off in every one of them, which is collected here as the
Pilot for the show. Owing more than a
bit to the earliest women of the classic British TV series The Avengers
(also reviewed on this site) to Honor Blackman’s leather-clad Ms. Catherine
Gale (elements of whom made it to Miss Blackman’s Pussy Galore in the James
Bond film Goldfinger in 1964) and the black and white filmed episodes of
Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel in 1965, the title character was a weapons expert,
knew how to use her sexuality and was a martial arts expert to boot. She was also quite intelligent, and so was
the series. The second season of the
shorts were a bit longer, but both had virtually no dialogue and it was a
triumph of the animation art. MTV liked
it so much that Chung was asked to create a half-hour series, but it only
survived for ten half-hour installments.
This box collects all of those adventures and much more in the face of
the new live action feature film with Charleze Theron.
The older shorts are actually in the supplements section,
while the later longer shows are the bulk of the three-DVD set. However, the title character and just about
everyone else started to talk and this is one of the reasons why the show was
short-lived. It also went into new
directions the shorts did not and was so sidetracked that what worked in the
shorts was lost and unaddressed by these new shows. Like the original Mission: Impossible TV series before it,
the talkiness destroyed the elements that made the shorts work. It is still entertaining for its own
reasons, and it has its fans. What
those fans may not like is that the half-hour shows have been “upgraded” as
Chung has added digital enhancements to the color during the updated color
grading process and took liberties to add additional effects to make these
shows look more like Animé.
Fortunately, the older shorts have been left alone, even
with some flaws here and there. The
changes in the newer shows are actually not too bad, except for the annoying
overly white shots, which is a very tired cliché of Animé. Fans who find those changes annoying can get
some (maybe all 10) of the shows on earlier DVD releases in their original
form. Still, to have the earlier shorts
and all the extras is nice. The slender
cases and fine artwork make this a fine treasury that everyone will want to
see, whether they like the live action film or not.
The image throughout on all materials is 1.33 X 1, with
the half-hour shows looking brand new because they are in effect, brand new
with the new expanded colors and upgrading.
They are also closer to an ad that used the character and offered much
more color. The sound on all the shorts
and episodes is Dolby Digital 5.1, which is especially impressive on the newer
shows, but still sounds fine on the old shorts. This is also in more than just a way to spread out older sound to
5.1, but to offer a truly discrete sound experience. The combination is very impressive, even without DTS, which would
have made this set even more treasured.
Dolby 2.0 Stereo is also available.
Extras include audio commentary tracks on all the old
shorts and most of the newer episodes by Chung and many of the very talented
participants who made these shows possible.
You also get some of Chung’s other work, some samples of other material
from Liquid Television itself, a new piece of digitally edited images
with voice over by Flux herself about the weapons from the show, a featurette
behind the scenes of the franchise and all kinds of options to see the various
stages of the production art. There are
also previews for other Paramount and MTV DVD titles, but they can be
skipped. Aeon Flux was an
important moment in the history of animation on American TV and it nothing this
serious or smart has been seen since.
Maybe this will inspire more.
- Nicholas Sheffo