“Aeon Flux” was a highly stylized, somewhat fetishistic, slightly sick cartoon from the early ‘90s that involved a badass heroine (Ms. Flux) who dies in every episode, often at the hands of her boyfriend/nemesis, Trevor Goodchilde. A miniseries of shorts on “Liquid Television” gave way to an actual series of 30 minute episodes, which gave way to ennui, which gave way to pop cultural obscurity, which gave way to this curiously ill-timed film, which gave way to the death of the property.
I was never a fan. I admit up front that I didn’t like it. I thought the animation was stylistic and interesting, but ultimately rather ugly, I couldn’t follow the stories (If, indeed, there were stories to be followed) and like so much else on MTV in the early ‘90s: I just didn’t give a damn. Also it has to be mentioned that while Aeon was clearly intended to be very va-va-voom, she’s kinda….not. Seriously: I’m a straight dude attracted to tall, skinny ass-kicking brunettes from WAY before Milla Jovovich made that kinda’ thing cool, but Aeon did nothing for me.
Ok, so that’s my bias.
The live-action movie came and went with much outrage among fans (Who have little to do apart from being outraged), and the creator of Aeon Flux himself said the film was a travesty. Thing is: Fan and creator outrage means nothing (See: Trekies and Roddenberry, both of which were continually pissed off about something or other), and has no real bearing on whether or not it’s a good film.
It *ISN’T* a good film – don’t get me wrong – but fan outrage has no bearing on that whatsoever.
My own interest was pretty much tied entirely to Charlize Theron, then at the absolute scorching peak of her hotness, *AND* with her hair dyed black besides! Put her in Aeon’s standard B&D wear on a peter pan wire-fighting rig pretending to beat people up, and I’m totally there, dude. Alas…not only did she not wear the costume (Which is akin to Batman just showing up in black jeans and a T-shirt and saying “What?”), the prospect of it apparently never even came up. I recall when an interviewer showed Ms. Theron a picture of the cartoon Aeon, and she visibly recoiled, then said “no one would pay to see me in that.” [pause. Nervous laugh.] “Or maybe they would.”
Well, I can’t say “They” at large would have, but I know I would have. When I saw it was just your basic hot chick in spandex, though, I lost what meager interest I had, and here we are nine years later with me finally getting around to watching it.
In the not-too-distant-future, next Sunday AD, a plague breaks out which kills nearly everyone. Trevor Goodchilde and the Goodchild corporation come up with a cure. [No, I am going to make no efforts to keep the spellings consistent, just deal with it] Alas, the cure renders everyone sterile or something. Such humanity as remains retreats to an idyllic walled city in the wilderness with a population of a few million. It’s utopia.
Granted, it’s a utopia ruled by the Goodchild family/corporation, but still it’s pretty nice. There’s a rebel group, and Aeon is one of the members, and they’re trying to overthrow the government or whatever it is that terrorists do. It’s all a bit nebulous. Whatever it is they’re trying to do gets put on hold, however, because people are disappearing. No one knows why.
Aeon investigates, with the occasional help of her terrorist pals, and despite all the running and jumping and skin-tight clothes, I have to say Charlize never really looks as yummy as she should.
Anyway, she goes to kill the leader of the company/city/world, Trevor the 23rd or whatever, and discovers that he’s not actually the bad guy here. He’s actually trying to fix things.
Cue extended backstory:
Plague, cure, city. Since no one new was being born, Trevor the first set up a system whereby when a person died, their soul would be captured by a blimp eternally orbiting the city, and re-implanted in womb of some woman. Thus the population of the city stayed stable, and basically every single person is a reincarnation, though most of them – excepting the Goodchilds – are unaware of it. They frequently have flashes of memories and dreams of lives they can’t remember, though. Aeon turns out to be the reincarnation of Trevor the first’s girlfriend or wife or something.
Back to the present:
Trevor’s brother likes the system. It’s static, perfect, etc. He sees no reason to go back to nature, despite Trevor’s continual attempts to fix the sterility problem. When the problem fixes itself naturally for no adequately explained reason, the Brother can’t allow that, so he starts killing ‘original people’ (IE: Non-reincarnated ones) to preserve the status quo.
Various things are shot and/or explode. Punches are thrown. Once again we see that there is no scientific or political problem in the world that can’t be solved by the proper application of fisticuffs.
I expect to hate this movie, and I actually kind of liked it. The story wasn’t particularly sensible or clever, but the idea of a city of endlessly-reincarnated people who are completely unaware of it and simply think they’ve achieved ZPG is a clever one that you could do a lot with. There are (Unintentional) glimmers of gnosticicm in that (In that the souls are essentially trapped by Trevor-as-Demiurge and the blimp-thing), and a few flashes of Zamayatin’s “We” and Aldous Huxley’s ripoff of ‘We,’ “Brave New World,” and a few other things I like. I also liked everyone continually being on the edge of remembering lives they didn’t live. It’s cool. It’s also refreshingly free of the incoherence of the series (Or what I saw of it), including the sicker violent aspects. I also enjoyed the clever way the terrorists stayed in touch and coordinated. I haven’t seen that before or since.
I think fan anger entirely revolved around the use of the name “Aeon Flux.” Had it been called “Charlize Theron Bodysuit Adventure: The Move!” no one would have minded. I think a lot of the film shows typical Hollywood excess: this is a much more expensive film than it needs to be, and despite its $62 million budget ($72 million in today’s money), it’s rather bland. Direction is flat, and very little sticks out in my mind apart from Aeon’s dash over a parkland in which everything is trying to kill her.
But not trying really hard.
That’s the problem in a nutshell. Well, problems:
1)The movie is not a literal adaptation of the cartoon, which I personally don’t care about, but I can totally see why fans would be pissed.
2)The movie is made rather blandly
3)Nothing in the film really seems terribly insurmountable, nay even very difficult. The conflict has one big (Nice, unexpected) twist, and from then on it’s just kinda’ A-to-B-to-C. Yawn.
All that said, though, I found it a pleasant waste of an hour and a half, it had a couple nice ideas, even if they didn’t really know what to do with them, and America’s South African Sweetheart *IS* pretty hot, even if she is being entirely too demure.
Bottom line: It’s not Aeon Flux enough for fans of that kind of thing, but it’s TOO Aeon Flux for people who don’t like that kind of thing.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS MOVIE?
Yesssssssssssssss. Yes I think they will. There’s a lot of anti-government paranoia in the hard right, and they’ll like this.
Kevin Long is a well-reviewed Science Fiction author, who’s fourth book is called “The Bones of an Angel,” and it just came out last week! (Check it out herehttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/433927 and here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K348VGI ) and he’s written three full-length anthologies. He used to blog under the name “Republibot 3.0,” but now that his stalker is dead, and he can afford to be less paranoid, he uses his real name. His personal website is here and his Smashwords pagehere. Or, if you prefer Amazon, his older books are here, here, and here. Check out his site, http://www.kevin-long.com and buy one of his books. He’s got a wife and kids to support!