Retro Review: Æon Flux

In the new sci-fi film, Charlize Theron stars as Aeon Flux, an ultra-slick infiltrative revolutionary in the distant future. Her body has been enhanced with all sorts of gadgets, gizmos and honed to perfection. She works for a group whose sole purpose is to bring a corrupt government to its knees.

What is their plan to accomplish this monumental task? Well, assassinate Trevor Goodchild (Martin Csokas), the chairman of the government, of course. The uncanny thing is that Goodchild was also the savior of the human race during its darkest hour.

According to the film, 2014 unleashes a virus into the human population and wipes out 99% of man. Goodchild was the head of a team who brought man back from almost the moment of human extinction. He created a hidden world where man could rebuild but for some reason man never left their sheltered existence and corruption began within the halls of this seemingly perfect utopia.

Aeon Flux’s group has waited 400 years for its chance to free mankind from the corruption and start again.

Aeon Flux is based on a 16 episode 1995 MTV animated series that created a cult following. The concept and the series central character seems to be forever implanted in anyone’s mind who saw the series. It was very different, had a unique animated style and was very sci-fi.

At the core of Aeon Flux, you can feel the echo of some of the elements from other sci-fi classics like “Logan’s Run” and even a little of “THX-1138”. The main difference between Aeon Flux and these other classics is that instead of running, Aeon fights against the system as a super-assassin or ultra-spy. I guess you could draw the conclusion and compare this to the Matrix trilogy but the series was much more than that.

The best part of the feature film version has to be the production design. This film is a gorgeous film to watch even if you can get past some of its obvious flaws. The costumes, sets, effects and eloquently executed action sequences make the film feel quirky and fun.

Charlize Theron is gorgeous, energetic and lethal. Her cold “robotic” demeanor is off-setting at times but she really sticks it out through the film. It is surprising how involved you can get with this character with this rough exterior. That feat has to go to Theron’s strength as an actress because it’s hard to make someone this one-dimensional at first feel so real.

The biggest difference between the feature film and the series is the quality of the presentation below the ultra-slick presentation. This brings us to the obvious flaw and what probably made the studio feel scared about the film. The flaw is the script and how bad it actually is. Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi not for one second knew how to deliver the right kind of dialogue for a highly-detailed and evolved sci-fi scenario. These people hardly talk like they are human beings. Is the human race evolving so that we all talk like robots? I did have to snicker at some of the goofy sets of dialogue.

This was the first time that Hay and Manfredi had written a sci-fi film and it shows. Their previous writing talents were used for Jackie Chan’s spy-spoof “The Tuxedo”.

Can you imagine how this film could have been if a real sci-fi writer or screenwriter had been allowed to bring this concept to life? I really believe that a Harlan Ellison or a William Gibson could have made this a sci-fi film we could have respected.

Another serious flaw is the film’s editing. There are oodles of strobe-light scenes that are supposed to accent the scenes but are very distracting. Also for the film’s first 30-40 minutes it seems like there was oodles of stuff left on the cutting room floor.

One minute she has a gun in her mark’s face and the next she sleeps with him. Huh, did I miss something? No, just bad editing.

Aeon Flux proves that a beautiful woman and beautiful production design and style doesn’t equal a beautiful movie. But it is way better than Catwoman.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

3 thoughts on “Retro Review: Æon Flux

  1. I had no idea I would love this move as much simply because I heard it got some bad reviews, I’m not a Chalize Theron fan and I have never watched the original cartoon. Man I was wrong, to heck with all the negative rubbish, I love it!The film itself is pure fantasy captured on the screen. I felt transported to another world for the time it took me to absorb the story and on a minor vain note I ended up loving Aeon’s hairdo- do, it was awesome!Aeon is the equivalent of a bounty hunter in this movie, as she is a part of rebel group called the Monicans. She has a secret mission to kill Goodchild, the chairman who oversees the last surviving place called Bregna as he rules with other scientists. Since 99% of the population was killed by a virus, he is in charge and Aeon with her rebellion are about to change that.What I loved, other than the fantastic costumes and surreal landscapes was the twists and turns in the story! This reminded me of those books I read and loved, when you didn’t really know who the bad guy was and that was really going on. You must pay attention as a lot goes! Aeon and Goodchild are caught in a game of cat and mouse and it was enticing to see how they were connected and what the truth would do.The twist start when Aeon if faced with fleeting memories of a previous life that keep her from fulfilling her mission and as the truth is revealed to her, she changes the future of Bregna with the equivalent of taking the bottom block of the foundation out. She lets all the skeletons loose as she jumps, shots, cartwheels, slinks through the night, paralyzes and disarms army men and fights for the truth of her and her people.As I said, I’m not a die hard fan, I’ve never even seen the series and I absolutely let the movie swallow my brain and possess my interest till the end credit. I loved it, cant wait to own the DVD so I can pop it in when I have a sweet tooth for some sweet , eccentric and off-the-wall action.

    1. I’m completely with you on this.

      I loved this film. I’ve seen the original animated series which, for the most part, seemed to be little vignettes of sci-fi fantasy – I’m not a fanboy.

      To me, it had a lot of interesting themes going on: nature vs. science, sibling betrayal, enduring love, totalitarian shadowy government vs freedom fighters, ostensible utopia vs. a veiled truth. I think it is massively underrated and don’t understand the negative reviews. It’s not Terminator 2, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a leftfield vision of the future, and the set/costume design reflects that. I’ve read reviews where the cardboard acting is criticised, which seems ludicrous to me. The film is set in a sterilised, climate-controlled society where all human strife and want has been eliminated. The characters find it hard to show passion and emotion – the exact reason for the slightly robotic acting. All of their needs have been catered for, and to a large extent that includes the rebels themselves, who are only acting on information passed to them that all is not well in Bregna.

      Of course, having the lovely Ms. Theron as the protagonist doesn’t hurt, gorgeous as ever (except in Monster of course). I think this film got a really rough ride. I’m definitely in the minority in thinking it was great, but hey, I loved it.

      And of course, who’s to say the year 2415 might not look something like this?

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