Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Weeks Too Late: Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux. Directed by Karyn Kusama & Written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi.

Preconceptions: Well there have been a lot of foreign, think-y films around these parts lately. I had to keep the joint classed up while Doomwench was away, but now that she's back I decided to give my brain a bit of a break and do something blockbuster-y. While flicking through Netflix, I was reminded that I hadn't seen the live action version of Aeon Flux. At the time I assumed it was going to be so loosely based on the animated series that it might as well have been its own thing, so I scoffed and wandered off. As it turns out, most of my buddies did the same thing and I never actually heard how it turned out. I don't mind Charlize Theron and I thought it might be entirely possible that it was one of those flicks everyone dismissed because of ridiculously bad marketing.

General Review: Y'know...this wasn't as bad as I anticipated way back in 2005. Sure, there we problems, big problems, but it was entirely watchable. Some of the best scenes were cribbed from the animated series (with a couple of interesting diversions) and a lot of the weirdness was kept intact.

My biggest problems can be described by three big bullet points:
  • Dialogue
  • Standard Romantic Sub-Plot
  • Marton Csokas and his stupid face
I suppose that last one could really be two points because his stupid face, with its cow chewing on cud expression, bothered me immensely throughout. Csokas is supposed to be Trevor Goodchild, an all powerful genius scientist with a God complex. He seems a lot more likely to be mildly stoned and munching on potato chips than crossing lines man was not meant to cross.

One of the things I loved best about the animated series was the complex relationship between Aeon and Goodchild. She's strangely attracted to him despite his amorality and he's into her because she successfully messes up his plans. They're always foiling each others plans and have a real Spy vs Spy thing going on (if the two spies ended up making out occasionally). Rather than being her equal in the flick, Goodchild mostly just puppy dog's her heels and they're suddenly in completely uncomplicated love (except for the Robocop police guys chasing after them). He admits she's totally right about all her anarchist ideals and they ride off into the sunset. Lame. Some of this might have been saved if Csokas didn't come off as such a vacant weenie. Man did he suck.

The abysmal dialogue I can't blame on Csokas (though he did sell it worse than anyone else in the cast). Lines that might work in a surrealist animated piece simply don't fly in an action movie with a few pretensions to the odd. They just came off as strangely camp and stilted.

Well for a movie that I started out by saying wasn't that bad, I have spent a lot of time ripping into it. Seriously, though, it really wasn't. There were some right amazing physical scenes that Theron and the rest of the cast sold and while this wasn't as weird as the animated series there was a lot of weird sci-fi to be found. The way Kusama handled biological weaponry was impressive. And the overall story wasn't dumb, it was a neat take on the post apocalypse (which does seem to be a theme in the reviews over the last couple of weeks) and some cool science fiction concepts. The sets, colour pallet and the visuals in general were fun to watch.

I wish more time had been spent on honing Aeon Flux, because it felt like there was a great movie in here. It's a shame Kusama hasn't done a whole lot of other movies because I'd like to see more of her work (and I'm certainly not going to be seeing Jennifer's Body). Don't get me wrong, this wasn't great, but it was an alright sci-fi action movie that was a cut above some of the dregs I've seen lately. It also blew my rather gutter-y expectations out of the water.

1 comment:

  1. Saw this on a big screen back in '05 and it was pretty and impressive in that old-school 70s/80s science fiction way (Zardoz is one of my favourite movies, after all).

    I too missed a lot of the cartoon's trippier elements (they kept in that run across the booby-trapped area, but not the rest of that episode's excellent cloned craziness plot). Also the angular, almost gaunt look of everyone in the PeterChungverse, and Theron -- while good -- looks far too pretty & babyfaced for the role.

    Mostly I'm waiting for the day science fiction movies decide they can actually have humour beyond the odd quip or two (which Aeon Flux the cartoon had in spades).

    Still, pretty to look at, not actually bad, and a good double bill with something like Equilibrium (and possibly Ultraviolet).