Starring Charlize Theron, Martin Csokas
Studio: Paramount 11827
Video: ratio not given but moderate letterboxing in 16:9, 1080p
Audio: English DTS 5.1; English/French/Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentary by Theron and Producer Grace Anne Hurd, Commentary by the co-screenwriters, “Creating a World: Aeon Flux,” “The Locations of Aeon Flux,” “The Stunts of Aeon Flux,” The Costume Design Workshop, The Craft of the Set Photographer on Aeon Flux, Theatrical trailer in HD
Length: 92 minutes
This live-action feature is based on the characters and story created by animator Peter Chung in a cultish series seen on MTV, also collected on a DVD. The sci-fi thriller didn’t garner as many positive comments as had the unique animation series, one critic calling Theron’s character (Aeon Flux) a “James Bond for the cyber-punk crowd.” I found the film entertaining and in its entirely different approach to the appearance of the future world and the story line a more positive and hopeful take on the original series, which was marked by a very nihilistic and morbid tone; the heroine – in her scanty S&M-influenced outfit – gets killed at the end of most episodes.
The time is 400 years after a virus has killed off 99% of the earth’s population and the last living city is a walled enclave called Bregna. It is ruled by Trevor Goodchild, a descendent of the scientist who found the cure for the virus. It seems on the surface a perfect futuristic society, but it has a police-state mentality and citizens keep disappearing. Aeon Flux is the top ninja-type of the Monicans, a group seeking to destroy Goodchild and his regime. Her missions are dictated by the Monican handler – played by Frances McDormand in a wild outfit. (In the animation series, Monica was a separate city-state on the other side of the wall.)
When Aeon Flux finally comes face to face with Goodchild, they appear to know one another, and to share a past, so she doesn’t kill him. She discovers amazing secrets that totally alter her mission and her life, as well as that of Bregna in general.
The athletically airborne kung fu antics carried out by Aeon and her fellow Monican ninja make much use of Hong Kong-type wired stunts, and there’s also plenty of plain old gunplay – considering this is the 25th century. Much of the film was shot in and around modernist buildings in Berlin, with clever use of the already-existing architecture (as was done in Gattaca and Alphaville, for example). Much of the decor and design is flower and vegetable-based. Even some of the bushes protecting Goodchild’s base have what looks like giant avocados that shoot out deadly darts.
The extra featurettes are worth viewing. I didn’t have time to sample Theron’s commentary track, but she reveals elsewhere that this was her first time in a sci-fi film and that it was challenging to her. The featurette on the production’s still photographer was fascinating, explaining a number of considerations I hadn’t thought of before – such as the need for shooting plenty of verticals for posters and advertising, whereas the film was being shot in widescreen.
The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack does a fine job handling the expected action movie gunfights and explosions, as well as the reverberant acoustics inside some of the concrete structures. The 1080p hi-def imaging is superb, and many of the film’s scenes provide excellent demos of its resolving powers. One is the deadly lawn which has thousands of tiny knives among the grass blades. Another is a closeup of a glass of water upon putting in a pill which fizzes and changes color. The many architectural details in scenes are in sharp focus, even up to the edges of the screen. There are no vertical video displays in Bregna – images are instead seen on the surface of ponds of water.
– John Sunier