Aeon Flux, complete – Director’s Cut

by | Dec 2, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Aeon Flux – complete (Director’s Cut)

Director: Peter Chung
Studio: MTV Networks/Paramount 88818 (3 DVDs)
Video: 4:3 full screen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD 2.0
Extras: Original Pilot; Shorts; Liquid TV Shorts; Production Art
section; Featurettes: Investigation: The History of Aeon Flux, The
Deviant Devices of Aeon Flux; Other works by Peter Chung
Rating: ****

Back just a decade ago MTV was trying to attract a somewhat older and
more sophisticated audience. They came up with the late-night mishigas
known as Liquid TV.  Most of it was pretty crude but one snippet
of sci-fi animation known as Aeon Flux – often just two-minute episodes
– stood head and shoulders above the rest of the fare. It was the
creation of animator Peter Chung, who was the creator of Rugrats. He
became bored with the limitations of that series, quite naturally, and
decided to see if some “completely different” animation – as the
Pythons used to say – would fly.

It did, and boy was it different from Rugrats! Aeon Flux is a
hard-edged mix of high tech, violence, sex and ballet-like kinetic
movement of bodies leaping and soaring in gravity-defying ways. The
overall quality varies violently among these ten 30-minute episodes,
shorts, and pilot.  The latter is probably the best of all, as
Aeon is introduced as an S&M-clad anarchist secret agent hell-bent
on a mission to sabotage the fascist country ruled by her nemesis
Trevor Goodchild. Neither of them have any morals and their desperate
clashes in each episode are colored by the fact that they also lust
after each other. Chung says in his interview that he didn’t want
characters to have black and white natures, that everyone has some good
and some bad in them. He succeeded in that. He also reveals something
that had me puzzled a decade ago seeing a few of the episodes – he
deliberately wrote the plots lines so that Aeon gets killed at the end
of every episode.  In the next one she continues on without
apology or explanation.

Actually, even knowing that you will surely have moments when you are
saying “Wow – What was THAT about?”  There are many odd
contradictions, unexplained business, sequences that don’t seem to make
much sense. The brutal take-no-prisoners attitude of both Aeon and
Trevor eventually becomes wearing, but even the more lame episodes have
interesting philosophical slants that can involve one’s intellect a lot
more than typical anime or action movies. Nearly everything moves to
fast that you will probably be making much use of your “step” or jog
buttons on the remote to check out details that rushed past you on
first viewing.  Some of the animation is a bit crude, but the
appearance of most of it is improved on the DVD over the original via
digital enhancement of many sections. Even those portions which use
quick-and-dirty TV animation shortcuts still look cool because Chung is
able to view his images cinematically.  There are bizarre camera
angles not seen in most other animation.  It is almost like other
animation is shot like early silent films – where the camera was set up
stationary in front of the actors and they moved around in mostly long
or medium shots. Then Griffith and others began using closeups, moving
cameras and odd angles to add interest.

In spite of its distasteful leading characters and often grisly
violence, Aeon Flux is still a quite amazing and very cool-looking
creation – especially if you’re a sci-fi fan. It’s bizarre and
disturbing, making great escapist entertainment for those who lean
toward that.  The real reason this lavish three-disc package has
been released at all is apparent with the opening preview (which you
are not allowed to move past with the chapter button – talk about
fascist society…).  A new live-action version of Aeon Flux
starring Charlieze Theron is opening this month.  It is being
launched without advance screenings for reviewers, which right there
says something about whether it’s any good.  My suggestion is to
see the original first, and then if you’re such a sci-fi nut that you
see every offering whether good or bad, go see the live-action flick
afterwards.

– John Sunier

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