1/2 (out of 5)
December 2, 2005
Charlize Theron as AEON FLUX
Marton Csokas as TRAVOR GOODHCHILD
Johnny Lee Miller as OREN GOODCHILD
Sophie Okonedo as SITHANDRA
Frances McDormand as HANDLER
Pete Postlethwaite as KEEPER
Amelia Warner as UNA FLUX
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Well, let’s get the obvious puns out of the way… Aeon Sux… This movie went on for an aeon… This movie is “fluxed” up…
Okay. Now I feel better.
Sometimes the book is better than the movie. Other times, the cartoon is better than the movie. Whatever format “Aeon Flux” was previously in – books, cartoons, video games, bed sheets, ancient scrolls – had to be better than this movie.
“Aeon Flux” felt like a bad direct-to-cable movie on the SciFi Channel, only worse. At least bad SciFi Channel movies have commercials to break them up. And even then they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Here’s a little industry background for you. Whatever the reason a studio gives for squelching an advance screening, the real reason is that they think the movie’s gonna suck. It happened with “From Justin to Kelly.” It happened with “The Order.” It happened with that godawful live-action “Pinocchio” movie that nobody remembers from Christmas a few years back.
The sad part is that “Aeon Flux” was Paramount’s big shot at a definitive hit for the holiday season. When “Yours, Mine & Ours” is your most successful film from a slate of otherwise strong movies (on paper, anyway), there’s a problem. The entire release schedule of Paramount films this season have bombed. Some deservedly (like “Elizabethtown”), some not so deservedly (like “Get Rich or Die Trying”), and some that were really robbed (I thought “The Weatherman” was one of the best films of the year).
After actually seeing “Aeon Flux,” it is completely understandable why the advanced press screenings were axed. It makes “Wing Commander” look like an epic masterpiece.
It was so uncomfortable to watch this film, I felt like I was desperately holding back a bout of extreme diarrhea while having dinner with my girlfriend’s folks for the first time. While the feeling kept ebbing and flowing, the pain never quite left. It was just better to grit my teeth and clench down, praying for an end to the night.
Everything looked good on paper. Two of the stars (Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand) were Oscar winners. The director, Karyn Kusama, had an indie hit with her previous film “Girlfight.” And it’s based on a popular classic animated series on MTV. So why was it so bad? Some might be tempted to point the finger at Johnny Lee Miller, who hasn’t really done anything to be proud of since “Trainspotting.” But I’ll give Mr. Miller a pass on this one. The blame goes far beyond his goofy acting.
So why was it so bad? Here’s some ideas…
STORY. This isn’t just a bad film. It’s a bad science fiction film. I don’t want to spoil anything for the masochists who are going to trudge out in the snow to see this one, but the science is so bad that it makes “Star Trek” look like Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos.”
ACTING. Yes, Johnny Lee Miller is bad in this movie. But so are the other stars. Charlize Theron struggles in this character. She seems irreparably uncomfortable in this role. The line deliveries are flatter than Britney Spears before both pregnancy and breast implants. Are we getting the picture?
ACTION. The way films are made, the filmmakers usually don’t realize they have such a stinker until they’re into the editing process. That’s when they try to hide its flaws with action and special effects. I call these films “Tammy Faye Baker” movies because they cake on the make-up in a desperate attempt to hide the hideous creature underneath.
There’s more about this film that shows where it went bad, but it’s gonna take me years of therapy to work that out.
Ultimately, “Aeon Flux” was a nice little Liquid Television cartoon to follow “Beavis and Butthead” for a target audience of slackers and pot smokers in the 1990s. Even upon reflection, the old animated series has a flair that is appealing to watch, at least. But as a live-action piece, it lost everything.