December 4, 2005

Movie Review: Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux is based on an animated series that first appeared as a part of MTV's Liquid Television. From there, it spun off it's own short run of half hour episodes, and then disappeared from the tubes. Over the years, people would ponder about its chances as a feature and/or live action film. A few years ago there were the first talks of it actually being made. Well, ponder no more. The film is here.

It has been said that if a movie has an opening screen crawl, it is not going to be a good movie. There are exceptions to every rule. It has been said that if a movie has an opening voice over, it is not going to be a good movie. There are exceptions to every rule. Aeon Flux is not one of those exceptions.

The film is set 400 years in the future. A disease has wiped out most of the world's population. The survivors are living in a walled city, in what is said to be the pinnacle of human civilization. There is, as there always is in this type of movie, and undercurrent of unrest. A growing opposition is plotting a way to change the path of the future. This is the story of their top agent, sent on an assassination mission, but when that mission goes wrong, it could spark the undoing of civilization.

Flux is all high concept and no heart. I love bleak, dystopian futures as much as the next guy, but this just doesn't have any depth to it. All of the "development" we get is through the opening crawl and voice over.

Watch as our heroine gets her mission orders, see her as she is given a reason to be cold and emotionally distant. Be witness to her pummeling faceless bad guys, be exposed to amazing leaps of logic as the plot moves by jumps and spurts. View the villainous leaders as they plot to keep the little man down, watch how their corrupt nature leads to backstabbing and mistrust.

Makes it sound pretty good, doesn't it?

The acting is flat, the action is generic, the special effects are sub par, and the story is lame. This probably would have made a pretty good Sci-Fi Channel Original.

The story is just so ho-hum. They try to play up the "nothing is as it seems" concept, but there is no context to put it in. How often have we seen a society which is controlled, where an underground group plots to overthrow those with the power? How often do these leaders who are not what they seem, where the real bad guy is someone other than the expected? How about where the primary protagonist and antagonist have some sort of connection which interferes with the missions? It is the same thing, just with a different coat of paint.

Besides the been there, done that feeling of the story, the logic that is on display is astounding in its lack of cohesion. Characters are introduced, then ignored for long stretches, then popping back into focus. Plot twists and character motivations only exist for the cursory experience, no depth is given. So, we never really have a good reason to care about the characters one way or the other. Neither side of the central issue is given the focus, the filmmakers never take a side, or rather they don't give enough reason to care either way.

This review has been as unfocused as the movie was, and I apologize for that. Let me see if I can sum this up.

Acting: Bad. Everyone speaks in monotone that is full of self importance, while never revealing anything of any real importance.

Story: Bad. They try to play it up as something new and different, yet I feel like I've seen this movie before, and it was better.

Effects: Mediocre. Most of them look like they should be on TV.

Overall: Bad. Unfocused, choppily edited, bad dialog, poor story progression.

This is not a movie I can recommend. Maybe if it was free, and you've seen everything else, and need something to help you sleep. This is among the top contenders for worst film of the year. The one good thing about the movie is that Charlize Theron is gorgeous.

I only have vague recollections of the animated series, which I did not watch regularly. So, I am not really in a position to compare to that base series, although I can only guess that it was better than this piece of junk.

NOT Recommended.


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