- review by Peter T. Chattaway Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 2 Dec
The ads for
So much talent, and for what? If anyone wants proof that good roles are hard to find, even for actresses who have won the highest praise possible from their colleagues, then they need look no further than this movie.
The character Aeon Flux was created by Korean animator Peter Chung for a series of two– or three–minute shorts on MTV's Liquid Television in 1991, and she came back in a series of slightly longer shorts in 1992 and a ten–part series of half–hour episodes in 1995. While Aeon was an anarchist, fighting on behalf of a country called Monica, she also had a sort of on–and–off relationship with her nemesis, Trevor Goodchild, who controlled the neighboring country Breen through science. Filled with fairly graphic violence and sexuality, the show played with post–modern notions of identity by tackling subjects like cloning, memory manipulation and the stimulation of human evolution. The show also challenged typical notions of story continuity by killing off its main character in several episodes. The show is sometimes cited as one of
The movie, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (
Aeon gets her chance to strike back at the powers that be pretty soon, when she and the four–handed Sithandra (Okonedo) are sent on a mission to assassinate Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas, last seen as a cynical P.O.W. in The Great Raid and as the evil leader of the Knights Templar in
If only there were.
But the story that strings all these elements together is built on contrivances, and riddled with improbabilities. It is, perhaps, understandable that the relationship between Aeon and Trevor would compromise them both in the eyes of their allies, but it is not so easy to believe that a culture so thoroughly dominated by images of its dictator would suddenly turn against him just because a member of his inner circle told it to. What's worse, the telling of this story is rather dull and lifeless; the film is full of rote combat sequences and no real sense of danger or adventure. After the death of her sister, Aeon tells us, "I used to have a life. Now, I just have a mission." Let us hope, for the sake of this film's co–stars, that they do not one day find themselves saying, "I used to have a career. Now, I just have a job."
- How do the changes made to the story, between the original cartoon and this film, affect the change in its overall themes? Do Aeon and Trevor represent chaos and order? Nature and science? Femininity and masculinity? How do these themes overlap? How does the relationship between Aeon and Trevor in the film compare to their relationship in the cartoon?
- Aeon's sister says, "We have different ways of solving problems," and Aeon replies, "Yes, you ignore them." What do you think of her sister's reply to this? Which of them do you sympathize with more? How do you think social problems should be dealt with? Does Aeon learn anything about dealing with social problems over the course of this film?
- What do you think of the modifications that some characters have made to their bodies? Note Sithandra's hands–for–feet, as well as the devices planted in Aeon's body. Does the film take a positive view of science and technology, and the impact these things have on our understanding of what it means to be human? Or does it take a negative view? A bit of both?
- What does this film say about the role of death in our lives? Is death, as Aeon says, "what makes everything about us matter"? Does cloning help people to live forever? In what way are clones different? In what way are you a different person now from who you were five, ten, twenty years ago? Are you the same person now?
- One character says, "Whatever we are, we're not anarchists. There have to be rules." Is he right? Does the film accept rules, or oppose them? What place should there be for freedom? Does the film bring rules and freedom into balance?
from Film Forum, 12/08/04
Consider the story of Halle Berry, who gained fame as one of the big screen's most striking beauties in several supporting roles. Then, she played a troubled, lonely woman in a film with the word "monster" in the title (2001's Monster's Ball)—a performance that won her an Oscar. Berry followed up that monster performance by pulling on some tight leather in the lead role for one of 2004's biggest letdowns—Catwoman, a disposable comic book movie. Bad career move. She hasn't had a significant leading role at the movies since.
And now it's happened again. Charlize Theron, Oscar–winner for Monster, is the lead in Aeon Flux, a Matrix–like sci fi adventure that co–stars Frances McDormand. Fortunately for Theron, her lead role in the recent North Country helped establish that she was not a one–performance wonder. But you have to question why she signed on for a film with a script as bad as this.
"If anyone wants proof that good roles are hard to find, even for actresses who have won the highest praise possible from their colleagues, then they need look no further than this movie," writes Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today Movies). "Aeon Flux is one of those films that is so lackluster, the studio refused to show it to critics in advance—figuring, perhaps correctly, that reviews wouldn't make a difference to fans of the original show anyway. Unless, of course, those reviews were to convince those fans that the film had betrayed the show, in which case the reviews would make the wrong sort of difference, from the studio's point of view."
Steven Isaac (