Aeon Flux (2005) - Widescreen Collector's Edition
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Thriller|
|Paramount || PG13 - 92 minutes - $29.98 || April 25th, 2006|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-05-12|
Writer(s): Peter Chung (characters), Phil Hay (written by) & Matt Manfredi (written by)
Cast: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Frances McDormand, Pete Postiethwaite
Theatrical Release Date: December 2nd, 2005
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Plot Outline: Aeon Flux follows the title character in the 25th century after a worldwide virus has taken out 99% of the population and only a select population had survived. However, the government, led for centuries by Trevor Goodchild, has gained so much control that Aeon and many others have formed a rebel group to take the Goodchild regime out.
"I had a family once, I had a life. Now all I have is a mission." And yet, nobody cares.
Aeon Flux is based upon a cult favorite animated TV show that aired in 1995 on MTV. I will admit up front: I've never seen it, so my frame of reference is, well, nothing. I turned on this DVD with no knowledge of the source material and not only was I completely lost for various reasons, but I was bored and annoyed at the same time.
There was confusion while watching last year's Serenity because it presented characters and ideas familiar with fans of the show and thus, I felt left out... But, I still enjoyed the movie, for the most part, and wouldn't mind watching it again because there were redeemable aspects worthwhile. Aeon Flux not only suffers from being too inside for the majority, but it's not even that interesting to begin with.
Charlize Theron enters the sad line of Oscar winners starring in bad and terrible films. Like Catwoman's Halle Berry before her, Theron takes on a role that's dull and in a movie that's unoriginal; even in the world of sci-fi where anything goes, Flux needed an extra jolt of adrenaline to wake up Ms. Theron, the cast/crew and the rest of the viewing audience. Now, I like Charlize Theron, she's more than cute and a very good actress, unfortunately the material doesn't really give her anything to do and the character is so robotic that any kind of emotion inserted into the storyline either doesn't ring true or is too little too late. Like Berry and other actors in bad films, I can't blame Theron outside of accepting the role in the first place.
Director Karyn Kusana makes her sophomore directorial attempt after 2000's Girlfight starring the then-unknown Michelle Rodriguez. She tries to present a visually stimulating environment filled with lush colors and interesting technology (razor-sharp grass blades or hornet's nests shooting darts), but given a poor screenplay and dry, humorless dialogue, only Matrix-like visual effects could save Kusana's failed attempt at the science-fiction genre.
And speaking of the technology contained within this futuristic world (and going along the too-inclusive theme), Kusana and the writers apparently felt it was unnecessary to explain certain elements. One of these includes the ability for Aeon and the rest of the rebels to transport to some subconscious realm to speak to the "Handler" -- played by the talented Frances McDormand in red hair and an even more ridiculous character, though nothing can top Pete Poslethwaite's costume design -- in which they take some sort of pill or push on certain parts of the body. I know why they must meet in this realm, but the how was truly confusing (even in a dumb flick like this).
Given how poorly Aeon did at the box office (making just over $24m), Paramount certainly packed this with some great extras that some hit movies don't get. On the same token, I believe a majority (if not all) was filmed before it bombed so since they already paid for all of it, might as well put it on the disc...
Actress and Producer Commentary - The first track brings together actress and star Charlize Theron with producer Gale Anne Hurd and is by far one of the more dry commentaries I've listened to in a long time. Aside from the periods of dead air, when they do talk (and Hurd does most of it), it's very technical with no emotion or personality. Just as boring as the movie (maybe more so).
Writers' Commentary - Aeon Flux writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi provide the second track and a livelier one at that. Aside from some telestrating of the story, they also talk about how the studio for better pace cut down certain scenes and how those missing moments took away from the story. They didn't outright criticize the studio or others but I got the feeling they weren't -- at the very least -- completely satisfied with the final product. Aside from the story aspects, the two have fun cracking a joke here and there (they term "sector 7" as sci-fi clichés that pop up occasionally in this film). Not a great commentary, but still entertaining and better than the movie itself.
Creating a World: Aeon Flux (20:48) - Takes us from conception to filming of AF and the challenges of converting such a strange cartoon to the big screen and still give it a mainstream feel. We get interviews with cast and crewmembers including the writers (who had not written any sci-fi), the director and producers. Director Kusana explains that she wanted this world to be more organic rather than mechanical... Gives a decent insight into the making of the film.
The Locations of Aeon Flux (14:46) - Looks at where the film was shot and gives a little more tidbits such as Kusana's desire to film it in Brazil, in a city built in the 50s to be like a utopia. But, the "practicalities" didn't make it possible to shoot in Brasilia (ie: it was too expensive), so they instead went to Berlin. One of the producers tried to pass the move off that the TV series takes place in a divided city and finding Berlin was kind of the same thing as it once was divided as well... how poetic. Perhaps Berlin was the best place, and the less money spent on this, certainly the better. Anyways, they go on to show how elements of the Bragel city were built in Berlin and how architecture elements were used.
The Stunts of Aeon Flux (9:02) - As the title says, this featurette takes the viewer from training (in fight and movements) for Charlize to the final shots used. Along with the usual sound bites from the producers, director and Theron herself, we hear from the stunt coordinator as well. What I got out of this was a certain appreciation for the amount of work that went into the choreography of the fights -- though that turns into sorrow after realizing how poorly it was executed with everything else in the film.
The Costume Design Workshop of Aeon Flux (13:35) - Much like the "Creating a World" and "Locations" featurettes, this one explains how they wanted to make the costumes unique and just not the typical stuff one would see in a sci-fi movie. Because a lot of the locations/sets were grey and dark, the director wanted the people to pop out more and thus you will see many of the extras wearing neon pink, purple and other bright colors, giving contrast. I don't find these kinds of featurettes that interesting so it's only for the making-of purists that will find value...
The Craft of the Set Photographer on Aeon Flux (3:34) - One of the more interesting featurettes as we get to see the work done by the set photographer taking pictures on the set but without disturbing what's going on around them. These are the pictures you see online months before the movie is released. But, some of these pictures are also used for poster artwork as well so it is an important job and can make or break a film.
Also included is a theatrical trailer and previews for other Paramount titles (Mission: Impossible III, Heart of Gold).
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Picture: The film is presented in widescreen (2.35) format and looks great. The bright colors (as noted earlier) come across very nicely. On the other hand, I think this might be a movie that'll look incredible in HD.
Sound: You're given the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo Surround. The Dolby 5.1 mix is fine but truly subdued, as I had to crank up my sound system to get a decent punch out of some action and fight sequences. It's not bad but could've been a little better and little more crisp in some areas.
Anyway you slice it, Aeon Flux is just not a very good film. Even with these special features, I can only recommend to skip it unless you like audio commentaries and some decent, though superficial, featurettes. If you're into DVDs for those sort of things, give it a rent, check them out and file it away.