This is not my normal fare, but I’m running out of sci-fi films to stream on netflix. Also, it was late and I was bored/tired/exhausted from grading/researching/reading.
If there was a prize for “soulless filmmaking” Aeon Flux would take home the “honors.” The problem is, there’s not necessarily anything atrociously wrong with “what we see” in this film. The visuals are relatively interesting, the technology weird and unexplained (which can be an useful narrative technique in world creation), even the acting isn’t half bad for this sort of film (especially Charlize Theron). Likewise, the director (Karyn Kusama) utilizes the standard plot and visuals for a post-apocalyptical Utopian community “which is not what is seems” — elements which often produce some good entertaining mid-level Hollywood sorts of films. The problem is we don’t feel anything.
Yes, the theme of the “utopia is actually not an utopia” (SURPRISE) is annoyingly prevalent in sci-fi films and books. I adore earlier book incarnations — ‘We’, ‘1984’, ‘Brave New World’ etc, and the sci-fi works/films from 60s and 70s, and 80s–but here the most basic elements are distilled to their barest bones and fleshed out with a secretly rotting carcass decked out in glit and glamour. That said, I’ve never seen the original Æon Flux anime — there might be something worthwhile there.
This movie has no soul. We don’t care for the characters. People disappear, but it’s not scary. Also, we have our normal bunch of inept enemies. Lengthy voiceovers “tell us about the world” — if the world isn’t inferred from the each character’s actions and visuals it gives the world a mindlessly superficial feel– albeit, this is not always a problem if the visuals are interesting enough — Dark City comes to mind (but even that has some depth).
But the visuals here just aren’t engaging– instead we see the standard concrete walls which every modernist Utopia MUST look like, some bad CGI swoops us around bird-eye view desperately attempting to WOW the audience, our heroine kills people in normal ways and doesn’t die when hit with bullets. Apparently all the surveillance technology wasn’t turned on when our heroine and her pal run navigate killer plant corridor…
I could complain forever. But, I shall move on to better things and attempt to forget this film. No problem, I already have. Thankfully…
This film is makeup slathered on a dead fish. Or, christmas ornaments arrayed haphazardly on a landfill. Or, a Harlequin romance novel touching covers with Herodotus. Or, white truffles mixed with store icing. Or, a dog food dinner date.
14 thoughts on “A Film Rumination: Æon Flux, Karyn Kusama (2005)”
Haha, sounds about as good as I would have expected it to be. My girlfriend was big on the cartoon series so she was trying to talk me into watching this when it came out but I successfully dodged the bullet.
It’s so bad — so bad. But sadly, not even the right sort of bad to be funny. Be thankful you dodged the bullet (well, in this case, the cannon ball)…
I completely agree with your analysis. Indeed, souless is the perfect description (and one that eluded me when I tried to explain the movie to someone else).
Have you ever seen the orignal animated Aeon Flux? They were a series of shorts first shown (to my knowledge ) on MTV and were extremely well done. They ran along side another very good series called The Max, the now infamous Beavis and Butthead (which was totally unlike the previous two), and numerous other clips.
Sadly, I must agree that t
oops… forgot to clip that last bit…
Yeah, I mentioned in the review that I hadn’t seen the original animated Aeon Flux… But, after this egregious attempt at a film I don’t have much motivation — haha.
They’re on netflix instant and are fairly short, so if you feel inclined it’s not too much of a time/effort sink.
Thanks, maybe I’ll check them out after another bout of “it’s late at night and I’m sick and tired of grading undergraduate attempts at history essays on Greek tyranny”…. hehe — I suspect this will hit in another week or so 😦
Thanks for the warning. I feel compelled to watch any movie I start to completion, so I will do my best to avoid this one.
It’s so bad…..
And not horrible enough to be funny.
I recently purchased the complete animated Aeon Flux television series – very cheaply, but have yet to watch it. I’m wondering if it’s going to be any better than the movie?
I’ve watched 3/4rs of the animated series and absolutely love how unhinged, truly unusual (visuals, “plot”, and characters), and off the wall weird it is…
I hated the movie, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. It was a genre I normally love, it had beautiful visuals… but something just turned me off completely.
You called it – the movie is flat, it has no soul. I could forgive rehashing common plot/character themes if it’s done well, but this wasn’t done well at all.
You should check out the original animations — they are BIZARRE and quite imaginative. This film failed to capture anything of the weirdness of the Aeon Flux shorts…
The brilliance of the original animation was how truly human Aeon and Trevor felt amid their futuristic utopia. He, especially, always made me laugh – he’s the undisputed ruler of Bregna, a genius/mad scientist/playboy who’s nonetheless bogged down in the boring day-to-day of running a city state. The film, truly, missed the point of the series: that human nature never, ever changes.