Aeon Flux – Special
Sound: B- Extras: C Film: C
Since Equilibrium arrived, we have been going
through a series of strange Action/Sci-Fi feature films where the future takes
place in a police state of some sort.
Of course, the idea of said state is dangerously trivialized depending
on the film and it does not help when the film is a watered-down derivative of
better films on the subject. John
McTiernan’s remake of Rollerball was a mess, and two films that came out
in 2005 did not fare much better. One
was Michael Bay’s The Island and the other is the subject of this
review, Karyn Kusama’s feature version of the animated classic Aeon Flux.
Having already covered the animated shows elsewhere on
this site, we had hoped the film would take the risks the animated version did,
even if Aeon did not die at the end.
The big production was being made in Germany at the same studio where
Fritz Lang shot his classic Metropolis (also reviewed on this site) and
it was either going to be a good film or an overproduced, overdigitized
duplicate of the show. At first, the
film imitates everything it can form the cartoon in terms of some key visual
motifs, from Aeon’s eye as Venus Fly Trap, trick teeth, other dimensions and an
unusual mix of the natural and unnatural.
The animated show did hint at a police state, but this
film claims one that even after the text explains this future world, never
delivers. Sure, people disappear, but
that never pans out in the narrative.
Once the makers think they are doing the show, they then go off into
directions that have nothing to do with the original shorts. Like the later limited series, there is far
too much dialogue, most of it pointless.
Charlize Theron, who has done bad genre work before in the likes of the Mighty
Joe Young and Italian Job remakes, makes the mistake of taking on
another remake. Sure, she got in shape
for the film and does some fine work, but she never totally becomes the
When they tire of doing Aeon Flux, they start
throwing in many of the things The Island rehashed, like Clonus, Logan’s
Run especially and even Zardoz.
Frances McDormand is even a Zardoz-like female power head. Has the evolution of the human race been
tampered with? Who are the people in
the story and who are their true parents?
Is the happy, perfect society a fraud?
As with The Island, you get the feeling the makers are more
interested in action pieces than telling a story with any weight. As a result, both films did not do well,
which landed up hurting the one film in this cycle that got it right and could
go all the way in both the action and substance departments: V For Vendetta.
The only reason to see this film version of Aeon Flux
outside of the rarely distinctive good visual and other cast members (Jonny Lee
Miller, Martin Csokas, Sophie Okonedo, Pete Postlethwaite) is to see how not
to do this kind of film. Though like The
Island, some of the money is on the screen, the film is just too empty and
the stars cannot save it no matter what they try.
The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image looks
exceptionally good for a post-modern piece of cinematography imbedded with
digital video graphics and manipulated color.
I recently saw the trailer for this film in HD-DVD and both are sourced
from the same fine HD master, though I expect more from the final HD-DVD and
Blu-ray editions. Stuart Dryburgh’s
cinematography is not bad, with some distinction, but it is still too restricted
by visual clichés, still too much desaturated color and tired digital
mania. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is
weaker than expected and was much better in the theaters. Too bad there is not any DTS here, but the
HD versions should sound better.
Extras are many and include two audio commentary
tracks. One is by the writers who
expose why their script did not work without knowing it, while the other with
Theron and producer Gale Anne Hurd is much more informative and interesting. You also get 5 decent featurettes and the
- Nicholas Sheffo