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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 8.75%
Just Average: 26.25%
Pretty Crappy31.25%
Sucks: 27.5%

7 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Aeon Flux
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A film that adds insult to Charlize Theron's injury"
1 stars

You may recall that “Aeon Flux” is the film for which actress Charlize Theron suffered a severe neck injury while doing a complicated stunt. Considering the quality of the final product, I guess this means that the film is a prime example of adding insult to injury. While watching it, I could easily understand why Paramount refused to show it to any critics in advance of its opening–a not-uncommon tactic but one surprising for a film that was clearly designed at one point to be a hoped-for blockbuster. What I couldn’t figure out, however, is how a film as profoundly confused, boring and pointless as this could have actually made it to the production stage–let alone the multiplex–without anyone realizing that it was nothing more than a recipe for financial and artistic disaster.

Based loosely on the acclaimed 1995 animated MTV series created by Peter Chung (which was recently released on DVD and is definitely worth a look), the film opens in the same way as many a dreadful sci-fi opus has in the past–with a series of expository cards that are meant to set the scene for viewers but which actually do nothing more than confuse things right from the start. Here, we learn that in 2011, a virus will destroy the population and the few survivors will live in Bregna, a walled-in city run by Dr. Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), the doctor who discovered a vaccine against the virus. Four hundred years later (don’t ask), some of the population of Bregna have begun to chafe over the increasingly heavy-handed moves of Goodchild and his army and an underground movement known as the Monicans has sprung up. The best Monican warrior is Aeon Flux (Theron), an extraordinarily effective assassin who is a master of gymnastics, sharpshooting, killing people with her bare hands and wearing the kind of outfits that once again demonstrate that even the most totalitarian of futures always seem to have a market for fetishwear.

After the requisite traumatic flashback to set things up–it appears that Aeon’s beloved sister (Amelia Warner) was murdered on the orders of Goodchild–the story starts as Monican leader Handler (Frances McDormand, in perhaps the goofiest cameo from a former Oscar winner since Marlon Brando played Torquemada in that Christopher Columbus movie) summons Aeon and sends her off on a mission to kill Dr. Goodchild once and for all. After evading the overwhelming security forces–which consist of genetically-engineered killer foliage and maybe one or two armed guards–Aeon gets the drop on Goodchild, only to hear him rehearsing a speech that suggests that he may not be the megalomaniacal despot that he seem to be. In fact, he is trying to make changes to Bregna, which was only meant to be a temporary solution, while his power-mad brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller) is the one trying to keep things the way they are by crushing the rebellion. Furthermore, Aeon senses that she and Goodchild have some kind of buried past history that she doesn’t understand. As a result, she doesn’t kill him and soon finds herself a target of both the forces of Bregna, who believe her to be a dangerous assassin, and her fellow Monicans, who believe her to be a traitor. Eventually, she begins to unravel the whole shocking truth about the original virus, the city of Bregna and who she really is.

At least I think that is what is going on, although I am not at all confident that I could pass a quiz on the events seen even though it has only been a couple of hours since I saw the film. Admittedly, the original series wasn’t exactly known for its clean narrative lines either–it was one of those shows that was pushed along more by the fantastic graphics and its hip, anything-can-happen attitude–but screenwriters Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi have taken the property and transformed it into an exceptionally dreary slog by draining all the fun out of it and replacing it with a story that is alternately simplistic and inexplicable and contains every grim-despotic-future cliche that you could possibly think of. Even the visual style of the film is lacking in any sort of creativity or ingenuity; the world of the future is another one of those sinister antiseptic environments studded with giant towers that seem to have been put there only so that the characters will have a place to fight in the concluding reels.

The only hints of genuine weirdness come from the way the film handles its surprisingly distinguished supporting cast of former Oscar nominees. I have already mentioned McDormand, whose appearance is notable only for the exceedingly bizarre carrot-top hairdo she has been forced to wear–imagine a flesh-and-blood version of Lady Tottington from the “Wallace & Gromit” film. Then there is Sophie Oknonedo, who appears as a conflicted cohort of Aeon’s who has had her feet replaced with another set of hands–this isn’t necessarily a bad idea (and I suppose an extra set of hands could come in handy if Charlize Theron were in the vicinity) but the film introduces them and then does nothing with them. (There is a scene in which Okonedo is submerged in water for an extended period and the film doesn’t even have the wit to have her complain about all the extra pruning.) However, carrot heads and extra hands pale in comparison to the indignities brought upon Pete Postlethwaite, who briefly appears as a scientist who holds most of the secrets regarding the past histories of both Bregna and Aeon. Perhaps realizing that his character makes even less sense than most of the others, the filmmakers have apparently chosen to outfit him in a manner so off that no one would bother to ask unseemly questions. Well, I can’t think of any other reason why he would be outfitted in a manner that makes him look like nothing so much as a giant Hot Pocket.

I can sort of understand why Charlize Theron would choose to do a film like “Aeon Flux” on the heels of her Oscar-winning turn in “Monster.” After a piece of heavy lifting like that (as well as her recent performance in the similarly grim “North Country”), she probably relished the chance to run around and blow things up while looking like the impossibly glamorous sex-bomb that she is in real life. The problem with her performance, however, is that she doesn’t seem to have shaken the experience of those previous film and goes through her outlandish motions with a sense of grim determination that just doesn’t jibe with her character; the result is kind of like what “Barbarella” might have been like is Jane Fonda had done it right after “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” without quite getting rid of that character.

What I can’t understand is why Karyn Kusama, whose only previous directorial effort was the low-budget gem “Girlfight,” was hired for a project that she was, based on the available evidence, so obviously unsuited for. Since she is telling a story that is driven more by elaborate action scenes than character development, she doesn’t have a chance to show off the flair for drama that she displayed in that earlier film. A bigger problem is that she has no demonstrable ability for directing an big visual spectacle of this size and scope. The action scenes seem to have been put through the same shredder as the screenplay–none of them display any particular flair or style and rely on the kind of post-production gimmicks (including an overabundance of slow-motion visual and whiplash editing) that are usually trotted out by a filmmaker desperate to convince viewers that a scene is exciting despite the available evidence. (Hell, “North Country” had better fights scenes than the ones seen here.) I have no idea if Kusama had a unique vision that was stripped away by the studio machine or if she simply found herself in over her head. However, I suspect that the next time someone writes a book about the misadventures of indie filmmakers trying to make it in Hollywood, the story behind “Aeon Flux” will serve as the basis for an exceptionally long and sad chapter.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13522&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/02/05 21:49:37
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User Comments

4/07/20 Honor Whitelow A good story line and keeps you enthralled throughout. The futuristic content was awesome 5 stars
1/07/16 David Hollingsworth insanely bad 1 stars
3/31/10 martin schofield Didn't think it was that bad, good visually, it wasn't attempting to be high-brow, but nor 3 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner Great Action!! 5 stars
6/13/07 Bitchflaps Nothing special, but an entertaining hour and a half. 3 stars
6/11/07 Steve Newman The only reason I dont rate this as "sucks" is because of the fantastic PJs she wears!!!! 2 stars
4/02/07 fools♫gold Just here to urge you to find a better movie, or find the great cartoon somewhere instead. 1 stars
9/07/06 John Inane script - worse acting - real bad Sci Fi 1 stars
7/30/06 Scotty Visually stunning, yet emotionless, anticlimatic, and weak-plotted. 3 stars
6/28/06 Ricardo I think that it worth a look, Its not so bad like everybody says 5 stars
6/16/06 ALDO looks great, good acting well worth viewing 4 stars
6/12/06 The Talking Elbow Starts really slow, towards the end it becomes good, then finishes. 3 stars
6/02/06 Indrid Cold Weak story + bland acting + sci-fi channel look = silly, disposable 2 stars
5/28/06 daveyt not good 2 stars
5/10/06 Will Nitschke www.capitaloffice.com.au Pretty ordinary even if you love science fiction 3 stars
5/09/06 KingNeutron Impressive visuals, but No Soul in 1st half. 2nd half does a decent job tho. 3 stars
5/08/06 Sheldon No substance 1 stars
4/29/06 adam te only problem with this film is that it was mis marketed as an action movie. 4 stars
3/16/06 Gary newton Visually stunning and Graeme Revell's soundtrack rolls wonderfully with the movie. 4 stars
2/27/06 Don Paco blah. 2 stars
2/25/06 chris f brilliant movie i loved it 5 stars
1/09/06 Mike The worst couple hours of my life 1 stars
1/07/06 Angel West catwoman-like 1 stars
12/31/05 Jasper I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this, but...bah! God dammit!!! 1 stars
12/26/05 B. Rose If you're into smart sci-fi stories you'll enjoy this movie. True to animated series. 5 stars
12/15/05 JamesCole A visual feast, plus a pretty good sci-fi story. Can't wait for the DVD. 4 stars
12/13/05 malcolm a lot of fun to look at but not engaging at all. 3 stars
12/11/05 Butterbean It's worth a look if you are familiar with the cartoon. 4 stars
12/10/05 millersxing The worst assassin you will ever see. Cool concepts compromised by goofy design. 3 stars
12/08/05 Michele I thought it was pretty good if you just go in expecting to see a sci-fi flick. 4 stars
12/06/05 Bobby da Squid A yawnathon and serious injustice to the animated series. 2 stars
12/06/05 jeff i agree with pin. very disappointed 1 stars
12/05/05 pin poor story, poor acting, poor shooting, poor edit, poor direction 1 stars
12/05/05 leo 1% of human population isn't even close to 5 million. think about it 2 stars
12/03/05 Zigga She has an emo haircut! 4 stars
12/02/05 Roy Smith Eh..ok 3 stars
12/02/05 Brian Godawful. No justice to the series. 1 stars
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  02-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006

  17-Feb-2006 (15)


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