a critiQal film review Aeon Flux (2005)

Plot: The year is 2414. The survivors of a virus that killed most of the world's population now live together in one city, under the leadership of Trevor Goodchild (Csoskas). But there is an underground resistance...and Æon Flux (Theron) is their top operative. Now, she's been given the task of eliminating Trevor Goodchild...but when the time comes, she hesitates. With both sides looking for her, she has to hurry if she's going to find out why.

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  • ...cool gadgetry, but even Schwarzenegger's Terminator was able to show more emotion - even in the original film - than Charlize's icy Aeon is ever able to.

Finally, the moment has arrived. Since I didn’t get a chance to see Æon Flux in theaters, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive on DVD. But, when it finally came to DVD, I had to wait for Blockbuster® to deliver me a copy. After too long of a delay, I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of the film today, and immediately sat down to watch.

Since I was part of the webmaster program, I’d been hyping myself up for this film with every new trailer and film clip I was able to put on the site. But, would all the hoopla (and the wait) be worth it, or was Æon Flux just another great television series ruined by Hollywood?

Charlize Theron, coming off her remarkable portrayal of a Florida serial killer in Monster (2003), looked to be ready to jump to big action star with her lead role in Æon Flux. She had the moves, she had the looks, Monster (2003) showed viewers she had talent…but something misfired. Despite her tries on-screen to the contrary, she makes the lead character seem very distant and aloof from the world around her.

Charlize has brought an almost palpable conceit to her character that doesn’t work well with this film. She seems too cold, almost as if she is more metal than flesh under the outfits. While this may work while she’s in cold-blooded assassin mode, it doesn’t work in Æon Flux when she is supposed to be filled with emotion. This aloofness creates a huge gap between Charlize and the audience, causing the viewer to keep their distance from her performance as well.

With a film like Æon Flux, a lot depends on it’s lead to take charge and pull the movie through – all other actors are secondary. While they perform decently enough, the twists and turns the characters go through as the film progresses won’t be of much interest to the viewer, since the viewer has already created a barrier between themselves and the characters, thanks to Charlize.

This is even more unfortunate in Æon Flux, as the plot is otherwise quite intriguing, and could bring up all sorts of questions. However, because of that barrier, the viewer never really delves deep enough into the film to ask those questions, making the film largely forgettable to most viewers. Maybe they should have kept the characters animated for this film – then the filmmakers wouldn’t have had the same problem connecting with the audience, and the story would be the main character, rather than a standoffish Charlize.

One thing that Charlize’s performance in Æon Flux can’t overshadow are the special effects. From the previews, a glimmer has been shown, and the viewer might spend part of the film just watching for their favorite scene from the previews. Since the film takes place so far in the future, the filmmakers had license to use all sorts of different gadgets that wouldn’t be around today.

A few of the highlights: flat disks that form into explosive balls that travel to the source of distress when a certain tone is sounded; a pill that allows the rebellion to communicate with their leader in their minds; a belt that allows the wearer to travel to another space in time; high-tech plants that shoot deadly darts; grass as sharp as knives…and more.

It’s fun to watch the different gadgets pop up through Æon Flux – but at the same time the characters are using decidedly non-futuristic guns, making for just another incongruity in the film.

Each scene in Æon Flux must have been shot in front of a green screen, as the backgrounds are all very impressive. From a gigantic tunnel to an enormous room bathed in light, the scenery is both futuristic and breathtaking in it’s scope.

It seems that Charlize Theron jumped a little too quickly into an action star role, as she obviously doesn’t know how to interact with an audience while in action mode – and isn’t able to turn action mode on and off. Even Schwarzenegger’s Terminator was able to show more emotion than Charlize’s icy lead is ever able to. Maybe she just wasn’t the right girl for the job – or maybe she just doesn’t know how to translate a comic book character into live-action. Whatever the case may be, her performance turns Æon Flux from a strong sci-fi action adventure into just another wannabe.

Worth a rental for the cool gadgetry, but that’s about it.

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