Aeon Flux Review

Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is one of those movie characters who can dodge everything just by doing a few computer/wire assisted flips. As she breaks into the stronghold of Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), murderous cocoanuts (?) begin shooting liquid darts, although the film offers no explanation as to what the liquid is.

It must not be too deadly as Aeon’s partner Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo) takes a few shots and simply pulls them out with no ill effect besides the stabbing pain. Aeon though, well, she is far too acrobatic to be caught, lunging directly towards the killer cocoanuts, flipping around without being clipped by a single one.

She is also the queen of mission preparation. Despite being given the job of infiltrating and assassinating the leader of this future utopian society (which is of course anything but), she plans ahead and carries an eye dropper inside her heel. One would think storing an extra weapon, such a small knife, would be more purposeful. Aeon apparently knew she would be captured, would know her drink would be spiked, and also knew she would need a sample for later. Genius at work.

Aeon Flux assumes the audience knows as much as the scriptwriters. Aeon has stacks of powers, including some type of bionic eye that allows her to see the molecules in the spiked drink. She also has skin that can be pulled off and put onto someone else’s wounds, instantly healing them.

Why she has these powers remains a mystery. Sithandra briefly mentions her own unique mutation (hands for feet), but Aeon seems to have no recollection of her past or why she was given these powers. Neither does the audience.

After a series of rapidly edited, mostly incomprehensible close-combat brawls and multiple shoot-outs, Aeon Flux attempts to be philosophical about life and death. There is brief debate about the nature of cloning and humanity, but this film could care less about any of that, so why should the audience? We’re still trying to fathom how she placed some mysterious liquid explosives inside a vent in the building the she was infiltrating while she was knocked out cold.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

It’s a shame Paramount released Aeon Flux early into the hi-definition war, because the only problems with this transfer are the fault of an outdated codec carried over from the HD DVD. This MPEG-2 effort struggles to keep up, causing significant and notable artifacting. The grain structure is too much, completely breaking down into a noisy, blocky mess. At its worst, around the 57:00 mark against some purple solid walls, it is a complete distraction. In minor cases, such as some limited banding, it is passable.

Almost everything else about this Blu-ray is exceptionally done. Colors are wonderfully rich and vibrant, while flesh tones are accurate. There is a reason Paramount used clips from this movie in their early promos: they sell TVs and players based on color alone. Black levels are wonderful, creating beautiful depth. Shadow delineation is flawless. Detail is superb, faces and clothing appearing richly textured. A minor battle with high contrast edging is ignored for many on small sets.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Likewise, the audio is a touch out of date, offering Dolby Digital and standard compressed DTS. Despite the ridiculousness, this DTS effort clearly keeps up with the rapid fire editing. A wild brawl about halfway through the movie involves shattering glass, falling books, and spinning kicks that are all nicely tracked in the front and rears.

The stereo channels are separated nicely, but not completely detached from the center. Bass is powerful, nicely rumbling the low-end as guns are blasted or explosions happen. The finale, with a flying ship crashing into the ground is especially forceful, bursting through a wall with a satisfying jolt of bass. Still, nothing beats the credits as a fly buzzes around the sound field, accurately captured in each channels, creating an involving opening scene before a single image of the film is seen.

Audio ★★★★★ 

Extras are carried over from a Special Edition DVD, beginning with two commentaries. First up is Charlize Theron and producer Gale Anne Hurd. They are followed by co-screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. A series of four featurettes are next, the longest being a solid 20-minute making-of, which details the difficulty of bringing the original MTV cartoon series to life. A feature on locations is self-explanatory, as is another on the stunt work.

A look inside the costume design shop is better than expected, especially when a rather surprising influence is revealed. The final one focuses on an unsung movie worker, the set photographer. While short (3:34), it’s nice to see a profile on a rarely recognized job. Trailers remain.

Extras ★★★☆☆