Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
December 2005

The worst sci-fi in aeons

Aeon Flux
Paramount Pictures and MTV Films
Director: Karyn Kusama
Screenplay: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, based on the animated series created by Peter Chung
Starring: Charlize Theron, Martin Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Nikolai Kinski, Pete Postlethwaite and Frances McDormand
Rated PG-13/1 hour, 35 minutes
Opened Dec. 2, 2005
(out of four)

Charlize Theron, welcome to Halle Berry's nightmare.

The situations of the two actresses are all too similar. They de-glamorized for the camera and gave career-defining performances en route to an Academy Award. And then they decided it would be a good idea to play a sexy heroine in a big-budget action flick. This decision will not be regarded as one of their best ideas. Last year, it was Berry hamming it up in the worst superhero adaptation yet, Catwoman, for which she won a Razzie.

And now Theron - less than two years after her transformational performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos - is throwing her own hat into the Razzie race with Aeon Flux, based on the popular MTV animated series.

I don't remember the series very well, but considering its popularity I doubt it could be as bad as the movie it spawned. Anyway, a deadly virus killed 99 percent of the earth's population way back in 2011 (which, in real life, is just six years away, so we better start getting prepared. Bruce Willis - we need you to gather information!). The film is set in the year 2415 in the last city on earth, Bregna, which is "protected" on all sides by a giant wall, separating itself from the rest of the planet.

It is the seventh year of the seemingly fascist Goodchild regime - led by the chairman, Trevor (Martin Csokas) and his next-in-line brother, Oren (Jonny Lee Miller). Aeon (Theron) is part of the Monicans, an underground rebel group determined to bring down the government. She is commissioned to assassinate Trevor, only when she sees him, she hesitates. They see something in each other...they freeze...as it turns out, killing Trevor may not be in the Monicans' best interest after all.

The details of the plot, as you probably just guessed, are pretty ho-hum. Well, so is everything else about this movie.

Aeon Flux has taken a lead from such films as Dark City, The Matrix and Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis, only it has left out all the intelligence of the social commentary - not to mention the excitement. (This is not even worth seeing for the action scenes.)

In someone else's hands, the ethical and sociopolitical subject matter could be interesting. But in the clumsy, incompetent hands of director Karyn Kusama - and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi - Aeon Flux is as vapid and witless as any old Steven Seagal movie. Although perhaps I'm being cruel to Steven Seagal.

It's curious, considering Kusama's first film was 2000's Girlfight, which was quite good. I don't know - maybe her heart wasn't in it this time? Regardless, her work here is embarrassingly amateur. During the film's many action sequences, there is not a single shot that lasts for more than two seconds - meaning there was really no need for any choreography or skill. The film's action is lazily and haphazardly spliced together, cut after cut after cut, and therefore the end results are choppy and completely uninvolving.

And the futuristic world she and her creative team (I use that term loosely) have devised is positively gag-inducing. It looks like a bad video game - a hollow, computer-generated world that is so unaware of how silly and ridiculous it looks, it almost hurts.

I'm not sure exactly what this film's intentions were - to serve as both a thriller and a piece of commentary a la Metropolis, or to simply be another popcorn action flick? Whatever the case, it fails on both counts. Ms. Theron and Ms. Kusama, the Golden Raspberry Awards await you.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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