One thing about movies, they are very adept at turning other popular forms of entertainment into flicks. At one time this meant the classics of literature or famous Broadway musicals. Now, the trend seems to have moved to comics, graphic novels and animation. One of the latest in this genre is ∆on Flux (often written as Aeon Flux), formerly an animated science fiction featured on MTVís Liquid Television. As most fans will be quick to point out the feature length film has very little to do with the popular animation. The creator of the original Flux, Peter Chung, noted in an interview that he was disappointed in the results of the film. As such no further comparisons between the two will be made and all comments here refer solely to the feature film.
The year is 2415, ten years before a viral plague swept across the world killing off over 99% of the population. The survivors came together to live in the walled off city of Bregna which is ruled by chairman Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas) and his brother Oren (Jonny Lee Miller). The pair oversees the vestige of humanity with an iron hand using the military and their ever present surveillance to keep the population in line. As with all oppressive regimes, at least in the movies, a resistance group, the Monicans, forms and sets it sights on removing the governmentís hold on the people. To this end they engage ∆on Flux (Charlize Theron). Fluxís job becomes extremely personal upon the murder of her pacifist sister Una (Amelia Warner). When the Handler (Frances McDormand) order Flux to kill Trevor Goodchild Flux is finds a fresh personal utilization for her extreme martial skills. Flux is joined on her mission by Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo), who happens to have hands in place of feet. While this may seem great for multi-tasking it must be very problematic for a young woman in the shoe store. Perhaps there are Manolo Blahnik gloves in this future world. Just when Flux has Trevor in her sights a flood of repressed memories come back to her. She begins to feel a connection to the despot and soon a love story begins to blossom. It turns out that Trevor had discovered a cure for the disease that destroyed humanity but it was withheld by the true villain of the piece, Oren. Sithandra has to step in (is that the correct term for someone without feet?) bringing her in direct conflict with Flux.
There have been a lot of flicks about utopias gone badly but this one truly fails short. For one thing the math is all wrong. At the start of the film it is stated that the plague took out 99% of the population and now there are only about six and a half million left. Since there are some billions on the planet today they are off by a factor of ten. If a science fiction flick canít get basic arithmetic right if bodes ill. Another thing is for this type of scenario to work effectively the writers have to build up a realistic conflict. There is little in the way of motivation for the resistance not like the heinous government in Brave New World or 1984. The plot tries too hard to force a love story into the mix instead of letting grow in an organic fashion. Plot points are too often forced and even those viewers adept at suspension of belief will be hard pressed to get involved in the story. Really great science fiction used the far fetched scenarios to provide social commentary. Here the plot meanders through the 90 minutes or so running length.
On the surface this film has a great cast. Charlize Theron is fresh off two powerful films, Monster and North Country. After her Oscar winning performance in the former Theron appears to have felt the need to once again show the public that she is a stunningly beautiful woman. Sure, we know she can act but with this film we get to see just how well she fills out spandex. The studios seem to have forgotten the lesson that should have been learned with Catwoman. Taking a gorgeous, young Oscar winner and placing her in a hardly there outfit will not ensure success. Theron has the talent as an actress but here there is a detachment almost to the point of boredom in her performance. Now there is nothing at all wrong with watch the lithe Ms Theron perform acrobatic maneuvers but at my age I do expect some emoting between high kicks and back flips. As if it wasnít bad enough to waste Theron her co-star Sophie Okonedo suffers a similar fate. She was excellent in her Oscar nominated role in Hotel Rwanda but here she has four hands. This is a gimmick plain and simple and one that really does not work in any way. In order to see the Handler played by Frances McDormand) the character has to take a pill. Watching yet another excellent actress in this film would be better if those pills where included to all of the audience. I know that even the most successful actor has to earn money but instead of something like this do commercials in Japan, please.
This is the sophomore opus for director Karyn Kusama. Her previous work being 2000ís Girlfight. That film not only had a real plot but it also brought Michelle Rodriguez to the publicís attention. Like her cast Kusama has talent as a director it is just this was not the best vehicle to showcase it. This film relies on style almost completely over substance. The pacing is uneven as if there was a battle in the editing room and action sequences where interjected to make up for any plot holes the audience may detect. If the viewers are about to be subjected to something that doesnít make sense bring out the spandex. Kusama seems to do better with a larger degree of control. She wrote and directed Girlfight and that was an excellent film. Here she has the arduous task of realizing a vision that is not hers and it shows.
Paramount brings this film to DVD with more attention that it was given in its theatrical release. The Dolby 5.1 audio is excellent. The sub woofer is given a lot to do with the explosions and deep rumblings. The rear speakers provide nicely done special effects as well as a realistic ambience. The film is available in both full screen and widescreen. As with all films I have to recommend only the widescreen variation. The anamorphic video has better than average color balance and contrast. This could be a good beer and pizza flick for a rainy Saturday afternoon but you may want to get an extra case of the beer first.