Oscar winner Charlize Theron suddenly finds herself in the company of such box office poison as Natalie Portman and Cameron Diaz with what might very well be one of the year's worst films. It's not so much that her acting is bad, as it is that the film more closely resembles something cut and pasted together by a hormonally charged 14-year old with a cheap software package, than it does a major motion picture company release.
How can something that features two Oscar winners and two Oscar nominees be so terrible? Blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of director Karyn Kusama and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi who adapted Peter Chung's graphic novel of the same name. Much in the same way that Stephen Sommers attempted to win us over us with frame after frame loaded with special effects wizardry in Van Helsing, the makers of Aeon Flux sap the film of all heart, warmth and human emotion replacing it with whiz-bang technical showmanship. What's left is a cold, distant, uninteresting story that features some semi-cool wire-aided gymnastic maneuvers displayed by a catsuit-clad Theron and her "fand"-equipped co-star, Sophie Okonedo. By the way, "fand" is a contraction for "feet-for-hand", an awkward surgical substitution that replaced Okonedo's character's feet with hands. I guess they're useful for climbing, but they sure look awkward when used for running.
The walled city of Bregna is home to some 4 million citizens, the only survivors of a deadly virus that killed 99% of the world's population. When Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) discovers the death of her sister at the hands of government officials, she swears revenge by accepting a clandestine mission from the leader of the rebels (Frances McDormand), to take down Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), the ruler of Bregna. We don't get a real sense of why Aeon wants to kill him however, because we're told in subtitles that Goodchild was responsible for inventing a cure that stopped the spread of the deadly virus,. The fact that the mission seems to be one of purely personal revenge does nothing to help us sympathize with Aeon's objectives. This lack of attachment and personal connection to any of the film's characters is a running problem throughout the film. Do we really care that the government of Bregna is corrupt? Other than the fact that citizens turn up missing from time to time, no one seems to be in real danger. In fact, the entire town's inhabitants seem relatively cozy and content in their little pristine city guarded from the outside world of nature by a sheer rock wall. Bregna is merely a 3-D playground in which a cast of cardboard characters run, jump, shoot and generically kick ass.
From the insipid story to the unoriginal costumes to the top-dollar actors who utter droll lines of dialogue with expressionless faces, the film is almost a total disaster. Even the film's tagline "the future is flux" lacks the usual cleverness that goes into such things. One of the most interesting moments in the film is when Aeon catches a housefly, Venus flytrap-like, with her eyelashes. But that occurs in the film's opening minute and it's all downhill from there.
Aeon Flux wasn't screened for critics except for a few hastily planned 10:00 pm screenings on the Thursday evening before it hit wide release. It was probably a good call because that would not allow the print writers enough time to get their reviews in Friday's publications.
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Subtitles: English; Spanish;Closed Captioned.
Language and Sound: Dolby Digital; English 5.1 Surround; English 2.0 Surround; French 5.1 Surround.
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; director's commentary.
* Audio Commentary
o With Charlize Theron and Gale Ann Hurd, the film's producer.
o With Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
o Creating a World (21:00) - explores the art and design direction for the film
o The Locations of Aeon Flux (15:00) - On location in Berlin
o The Stunts of Aeon Flux - Examines the physical training and stunts used for the film.
o The Costume Design Workshop of Aeon Flux - The costume designs that went into the film
o The Craft od the Set Photographer on Aeon Flux - Covers the role of a set photographer.
* Trailer - Original theatrical trailer for Aeon Flux as well as for other Paramount DVD releases.
Number of discs: - Keepcase Packaging
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