Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Review: Æon Flux

Truth be told, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this movie. I have vague memories of the cartoon, and did enjoy it. Quite a bit actually. The cartoon that is. It was a complicated cartoon, and one that I doubt that I was able to wrap my mind around everything that was going on back then - after all, it was 1991 and I was a mere Freshmen (or maybe Sophomore) in high school. Of course, I was amused by the constant deaths ofÆon . She was Kenny, back before there was ever a South Park. Anyways, I enjoyed the cartoon. A fact which made me highly resistant to actually watching this movie. But I was at the video store on Tuesday to get Children of Men and it was two-for-Tuesdays so I decided I might as well try it. After all, it's free, what's the worst that could happen?

Yeah... I actually thought that. You would think that I would know better after having watched The Dukes of Hazard, Daredevil, Howard the Duck, The Flintstones and the original group of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (still withholding judgment on the newest incarnation of that series). Apparently, I like having my childhood memories squashed and flattened by Hollywood. But I digress.

I mean, let's look at the movie's taglines (they serve similar purposes to blurbs in books):

  • The Perfect World Meets The Perfect Assassin
  • The future is flux.
  • Perfect Future Shock

Yeah. Those are real reassuring as to the quality of the movie. I immediately began to wonder if I might have payed too much to rent this movie.

Well, I queued up the DVD in my player and banished any thoughts of the cartoon from my mind and hit play. And was pleasantly surprised with the opening of the cartoon in live action. Yes, that fly-caught-by-eyelashes thing that served as the opening scene for the cartoon also served as the opening for the movie. A pleasant surprise. At least until you considered how sillyCharlize Theron looked with a fly in her eyelashes.

On to the discussion of the movie's plot. What to say about the plot. There's not a lot to consider from the source material, as the plot needs for a series of short films or half-hour episodes are quite different than a two-hour movie. But, the general concept is that in 2011 or so, 99% of the world's population is wiped out by a virus. After a cure is discovered, humanity all goes and hides in this walled city. Well 400 years have passed and folks began to want to rebel against the perfectly manicured society that was built by thesurvivors. It's an interesting enough premise to hang the actual story on, so that works for our purposes.

Anyways, our main character is Æon Flux, assassin extraordinaire for the rebels. And the more times that she appeared on screen, the more times I had to question if the character on the screen bore any relationship at all to the animated character of the same name. Frankly, the movie version of Æon Flux lacked the depth and mystery of her cartoon counterpart. It's not something that I can quite put my finger on in her actions, but it just didn't feel the same as the cartoon.

The next most important character was Trevor Goodchild, the scientist/dictator for the last city.

And, that's frankly all that I can bring myself to actually care about his character. Secondary characters? Yeah, there was three secondary characters, Æon's sister, Æon's assassin partner and Trevor's brother. And truth be told they were nothing more than shells of a character. The sister was the proverbial innocent. the partner was the by-the-books second, who puts more faith in orders than thinking for ones self (an odd trait in an anarchistic rebellion group).

I just can't get myself worked up enough to actually care about those characters.

The only place that this movie shone was in the action and the special effects.

Which distrubs me. A good science/speculative fiction story is supposed to make you think. That's its entire purpose. Oh sure, Æon Flux is set in a dystopian society. Oh, there's a military group trying to rebel against the sweet, ivory tower, manufactured society. Yet, for all the ideas that could be in this story, it seems to be more a vehicle for the special effects (including one straight out of Men in Black) than a vehicle to make the viewer question themselves and society. I think this is why I love books so much more than television or movies. You can do a magical hand-wave in front of a Blue Screen in a book in an effort to distract the consumer from realizing that this bit of speculative fiction that you've convinced them to view is really nothing more than a simple action flick set in the future. I got more subtle meaning from the Judge Dredd movie than from this one.

And that's saying a lot.

Anyways, I don't think I can recommend this movie. If you want to watch Æon in action, try to get your hands on the original cartoons first.

I give it a .3 out of 4.


RJ Peters said...

I've never seen the cartoon or movie, but I'm much more likely to check out the cartoon. The movie just seems uninspiring.

Stephen Wrighton said...

Aye. It had pretty action scenes but I wasn't that impressed.

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