|Ĉon Flux (Special Collector's Edition)|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 25 April 2006|
“Æon Flux” began life in 1991 as an experimental animated series launched by MTV’s Liquid Dreams. Created by Korean American animator David Chung, the show kept coming back again and again, reaching cult status after three seasons that were basically unconnected. In fact, in the first season Aeon got killed in each episode. Fans rejoiced and dreaded the movie version of their heroine.
Hewing to its science fiction roots, “Æon Flux” is set in Bregna, the last city left alive on earth after a terrible disease killed ninety-nine percent of the world’s population. Walls keep nature at bay. Bregna is the world’s most perfect city, providing everything its citizens want or need. Unfortunately, there is a darkness lurking in the city. People disappear. Others are haunted by sadness, ghostly images and confused thoughts that can’t be their own.
In the original conceit, Bregna had a sister city called Monica. Aeon Flux was a Monican spy/assassin constantly at war with Trevor Goodchild, the brains behind Bregna, and sometimes her lover. In the live action movie version, Aeon Flux is still the perfect assassin, but she’s a Monican, part of the underground effort striving to figure out what secrets Trevor Goodchild and his people are hiding.
Charlize Theron breathes life into Aeon Flux, starring as the main heroine. She’s hot and sexy, exactly how the world’s foremost assassin should look in body-molding black. Marton Csokas plays Trevor Goodchild, bringing a sense of aristocracy and weight to the role, as he did in “Lord of the Rings”, “Star Wars: Clone Wars”, and “Kingdom of Heaven”. Trevor’s brother Oren is played by Jonny Lee Miller with a sleazy kind of authority that will encourage a viewer to boo and hiss whenever he’s onscreen because he’s so cold and so much the schemer. Sithandra, Aeon’s protégé and friend, is played by Sophie Okonedo (and she’s just now starting to explode in movies). Pete Postlethwaite (from “The Constant Gardener”, the remake of “The Omen” and other movies) plays the keeper. Frances McDormand plays Handler.
Director Karyn Kusama (“Girlfight”) made a deliberate effort to make the future she depicted much different than most science fiction films. Instead of being dark and desperate like “Blade Runner”, Kusama’s vision of Aeon Flux’s future is a perfect world, married to nature but with sophisticated technology that doesn’t show up as hard gray boxes with multitudinous wires running everywhere. However, this “perfect” future also happens to be perfectly lethal, as evidenced by Aeon’s assault on Trevor Goodchild’s stronghold. This action-packed sequence really fits the bill, filling the screen with energy and the surround sound system with dramatic intensity. And that was exactly what Kusama said she wanted in the interview that’s included in the special features-rich disc.
The movie opens up with Aeon catching a fly in her eyelashes, very much like a Venus flytrap. This was one of the signature pieces in the original animated series, and its duplication here is no surprise. Aeon gives the view a voice-over that lays out the four hundred years that have led up to 2415, the year the movie takes place. A devastating plague killed 99% of the world’s population. Only Trevor Goodchild, the original, was able to manufacture a cure for the virus before it wiped mankind from the face of the earth.
The first clandestine meeting between Aeon and another Monican sets the tone for the secretive work they do as wall as the technology they have at their disposal. Aeon swallows a small pill, transferred in a kiss, and it fires through her brain, allowing her to communicate directly with her leader. These side trips through the technology are welcome in this kind of movie, and Kusama and her special effects teams really deliver the goods.
However, the perfect world is anything but perfect because people are starting to break down, imagining things that aren’t there, people that aren’t there, and remembering things that they never did. During Aeon’s introductory conversation with her sister, Una, a man moves through the background, desperately looking for his daughter and pleading with everyone he comes in contact with to help him. Una knows that Aeon is a Monican, but she keeps her sister’s secret.
Later, while on a mission to secure vital information, the viewer sees how the new developing tech has an organic form. Although the scene in the spy chamber resembles Tom Cruise’s first “Mission Impossible”, the possibility of so much information getting passed through a single drop of water is astonishing. As Aeon watches, she sees that her conversation earlier with Una is revealed. Aeon knows that Goodchild’s people know what she is and that her sister’s life is in danger.
Although Aeon hurries back to her sister’s house, she arrives too late. Una has already been shot as a Monican spy. Charlize Theron plays the scene perfectly. Viewers can see the pain she experiences over the loss of her sister, as well as the guilt. But they also see the icy resolve that accompanies those feelings.
The story jumps forward one year. Aeon is called in and given the assignment of killing Trevor Goodchild. She feels the assignment is long overdue. Pairing up with Sithandra (Sophia Okonedo), Aeon invades the stronghold. Fantastic imagery and rollicking action fills the screen and pumps through the surround sound system, accompanied by a driving score. The movie at this point is exhilarating, although a bit over-the-top, but it delivers solid, heart-thumping action. Sithandra’s appearance is one of the cooler bits of the special effects. To further enhance her skills as an assassin, Sithandra had her feet amputated and replaced with hands. This allows her to make some really awesome moves, but reason also suggests that it would make her much easier to identify and later find – though that isn’t dealt with in the movie.
While inside Trevor Goodchild’s stronghold, Aeon is captured. In true James Bondian fashion, she makes her escape, calling forth steel marbles that are technological marvels, and items no spy should ever be without. After her escape, she confronts Goodchild and they both receive shocking surprises. From this point on, the movie moves fairly quickly, but it’s a tangled and convoluted tale filled with chunks of beyond-belief twists and turns. The secrets that Bregna and her ruling council hide are too staggering to believe they’ve remained hidden for so long.
The disc shines in the video and audio departments. The images are crisp and clear, and thanks to Kusama’s vision of a perfect world, bright and colorful. A surround sound system brings the immediacy of the story right into the room with pulse-pounding authority. Every punch and every kick can be heard, and it’s all accompanied by a killer soundtrack.
A further treat for the DVD viewer, the special features section is jam-packed with goodness. The commentaries by Charlize Theron and Producer Gale Anne Hurd, as well as Co-Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, are interesting to listen to, delineating the different decisions that were made along the way, and offering a lot of insight into the world where Aeon Flux lives. “Creating A World: Æon Flux” gives a lot of insights into the film, but also is a good primer for anyone wanting to write SF movies or prose. “The Stunts of Æon Flux” is interesting from the technical aspect as well as offering a new chance to get to know the stars and what they had to deal with in order to bring the movie in. “The Costume Design Workshop of Æon Flux” provides a lot of information for people who wonder where the styles come from, or who might be interested in pursuing such a career. “The Craft of the Set Photographer on Æon Flux” shows a lot of what goes in to the set photographer’s job, as well as introducing viewers to Jasin Bolland, a guy who seems to absolutely enjoy his job.
“Æon Flux” ultimately satisfies as a science fiction action tale, but there are gaping holes in the overall plot and structure of the world (Such as, how could someone not know some of the secrets that were hidden? How was all the technology developed? Why were the Monicans so rebellious? Who were some of the principal players? Why did no one ever venture outside the city walls?). Charlize Theron fans will want to pick this one up. So will Æon Flux fans, though they may groan in displeasure as much as they sigh with enjoyment. Viewers wanting to pick up a movie thriller for a night’s entertainment will enjoy this one over all, and it’s tame enough to view with the kids.