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The UnPopular Opinion: Aeon Flux

03.10.2016

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Children of the MTV generation likely have at the very least a passing knowledge of AEON FLUX. Originally a series of short animated films aired on MTV's Liquid Television, AEON FLUX told the story of a dystopian future where an assassin must try kill the leader of a neighboring police state. Of course, lines blur and both Aeon and her target, Trevor Goodchildm become lovers. The stories featured on this unique animated series were devoid of any and all dialogue aside from two spoken words. Along with the leather fetish and sexualized nature of Peter Chung's cartoon, AEON FLUX became one of those shows you had to watch without your parents knowing about. Much like Beavis and Butthead and The Maxx, AEON FLUX was a very taboo show for younger viewers. So, naturally, a Hollywood film was going to get made.

Fourteen years after debuting on MTV, Karyn Kusama's feature film version of AEON FLUX was met with very little fanfare as it hit screens in December 2005. Those who watched the cartoon as teenagers were now in their early thirties and likely jaded by the sterilized studio take on Peter Chung's story. Chung himself found the film to be nothing like his creation and essentially disowned it. Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Mandredi have also been vocal in saying that studio executives cut over thirty minutes from Karyn Kusama's finished film, resulting in a movie that everyone has distanced themselves from. A box office flop, many have forgotten about AEON FLUX. I still look back fondly on the film which to me ranks as a forgotten gem that holds it's own alongside dystopian flicks like THE MATRIX, DEMOLITION MAN and EQUILIBRIUM. 

Like those aforementioned films, AEON FLUX envisions a future adter a totalitarian regime has taken control. Like EQUILIBRIUM, the society is surrounded by cold and ornate structures and drab, utilitarian attire while underneath the masses are adorned with rags and forced to live subjugated lives. This is a very political film that tackles the same themes as every other film in the genre. But, AEON FLUX is not designed to simply be a message movie. Make no mistake, this is in no way 1984. More in line with Kurt Wimmer's technicolor ULTRAVIOLET, AEON FLUX wants to be sexy and dangerous in every way that a PG-13 film can be. AEON FLUX was trashed by critics because of the screenplay, by far the weakest part of this film. But, you don't expect movies like this to be bastions of writing prowess. Even THE MATRIX has some truly painful lines of dialogue but it thrives on the quality of the visuals.

In the visual regard, AEON FLUX is excellent. From the CGI cityscape to the sexy and sleek costume design, this is a beautiful film. Charlize Theron, coming off her less than sexy turn in NORTH COUNTRY, is gorgeous in the title role. Unlike the skeletal dominatrix from the animated series, this Aeon is cut from the same cloth as Trinity in THE MATRIX films. She has curves, moves, and kicks ass while still maintaining a humanity under that armor she has built for herself. Theron is one of the best actresses working today and she can easily go from dramatic, Oscar winning performances to pulpy, fun action films. Like her turn in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, Aeon is a strong female character who embodies not only the weight of society on her shoulders but the responsibility for protecting those weaker than her. While I would never equate AEON FLUX to George Miller's 2015 masterpiece, the two characters are quite similar.

AEON FLUX comes from a director who has examined femininity through very disparate genres. From GIRLFIGHT to JENNIFER'S BODY, Karyn Kusama uses the tropes of very different types of movies to examine subtext often overlooked. AEON FLUX is one of those movies that could spend hours on universe building but instead just sets the stage for a very fast paced adventure. At just over ninety minutes, AEON FLUX does not have time to stop and explain every single thing on screen which leads to a story that slights dramatic quality for visual energy. It is a trade off that doesn't always work for movies but does the trick here. Nobody is watching this film expecting a treatise on the human condition, but the film does a pretty good job of setting the stage just enough to inform the plot without becoming preachy.

AEON FLUX is a popcorn flick through an through. While it may not be the type of film that stands amongst the greatest, it does work even a decade after it was originally released. Often compared to Halle Berry's post-Oscar debacle that was CATWOMAN, AEON FLUX is nowhere near the level of bad that movie is. AEON FLUX benefits from a talented cast that includes Martin Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, and Frances McDormand, all of whom are doing their best to have fun with the material. This isn't Shakespeare but it is also very far from Pauly Shore. Karyn Kusama does have an eye for action scenes and closely shot interactions between characters which take on a delicate flow that borders on ballet.

There are moments in AEON FLUX that border on excellence, making the viewer wonder about what could have been if Karyn Kusama were given the free reign needed to fully realize this story from animated origin to big screen action film. Even getting a glimpse of those 30 minutes of deleted scenes may inform this film for the masses. But, as it is, AEON FLUX is a rip-roaring action film that is not brainless but doesn't require brain power to enjoy. You can sit back and enjoy the ride with this film while admiring the assets of Charlize Theron in her prime. I don't know about you, but I would rather see Charlize in kick ass mode rather than ice queen. And if she can be the only rewarding part of SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, you can imagine what she does for this film.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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6:23PM on 03/11/2016

Bored to death

It could never hold my attention. I had a passing knowledge of the source material but lived out in the country before Satellite brought the world to the masses in fly over country. So I went in knowing nothing really and was completely bored.
It could never hold my attention. I had a passing knowledge of the source material but lived out in the country before Satellite brought the world to the masses in fly over country. So I went in knowing nothing really and was completely bored.
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10:42PM on 03/10/2016
If it had been titled anything else, it would've been up there with Equilibrium as a dystopian cult classic. But I just can't stand that cynical strategy of slapping an existing franchise's name on something that barely resembles the source material.
If it had been titled anything else, it would've been up there with Equilibrium as a dystopian cult classic. But I just can't stand that cynical strategy of slapping an existing franchise's name on something that barely resembles the source material.
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1:57PM on 03/10/2016
I didn't hate this film, but as a huge fan of the animated series it was annoying how watered-down the characters were. I mean there's literally no point in adapting Aeon Flux if you aren't planning to include a society of kinky perverts getting their rocks off on all kinds of weird shit. I mean, that WAS Aeon Flux. They made a complete hash of Trevor Goodchild as a character too. Just ignored what made him great in the series.
Regardless, it's actually not a terrible film if you don't care
I didn't hate this film, but as a huge fan of the animated series it was annoying how watered-down the characters were. I mean there's literally no point in adapting Aeon Flux if you aren't planning to include a society of kinky perverts getting their rocks off on all kinds of weird shit. I mean, that WAS Aeon Flux. They made a complete hash of Trevor Goodchild as a character too. Just ignored what made him great in the series.
Regardless, it's actually not a terrible film if you don't care about the source material, and makes good use of, I think(?), Brazilian architecture.
Oddly I think the film's most important achievement was that they finally released the full animated show on dvd, meaning I could ditch my old vhs recordings of Liquid Television at last. Ahh the 90s.
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11:29AM on 03/10/2016
I never saw the original MTV shows but I thought this movie was decent. Sure, the plot was a little shallow at times but i think it was for the benefit of people like me and because of that the quality suffered a little and I wish this movie had spawn a trillogy so we can get the bigger picture of what's going on.
I never saw the original MTV shows but I thought this movie was decent. Sure, the plot was a little shallow at times but i think it was for the benefit of people like me and because of that the quality suffered a little and I wish this movie had spawn a trillogy so we can get the bigger picture of what's going on.
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