Thursday, June 10, 2010

Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux started its life as an animated series by Peter Chung that first aired on MTV. What it became as a film bears only superficial resemblance to that series, and for that I am grateful. In the series, Aeon dies at the end of each episode whereas the film has a happier ending. The series has an ambiguous and dreamlike narrative whereas the film has a coherent and original storyline. Normally those things would be liabilities, but read on. The most striking contrast is that the visual style of Chung's animation is morbid and grotesque, while the film is absolutely beautiful. The animated series has its own merits as a work of art, but the film, while borrowing concepts from the series, stands on its own for me as one of the more memorable recent sci-fi offerings.
There is a lot of creativity in Aeon Flux, and much of it is visual (hence, the numerous images shown). The movements of the assassins are choreographed like a ballet. The technology is organic in nature, making for some interesting and very original devices, weapons, and means of communication. I completely forgot to ask myself if any of it was believable or not because it was just so interesting and looked so good. Even the building architecture was chosen for its uniqueness. I have to admit I am a sucker for visuals. The only other film that gave me this sense of watching artwork was The Fountain. For me, it makes a movie highly re-watchable.

============= Spoilers Below =================

The story takes place in the future after most of mankind has been wiped out by a virus, and the only cure renders people infertile. The remaining population survives by a program, kept secret by the leadership, of successive cloning. This provides a great backdrop for the story which involves a power stuggle between those that are trying to get man back to making babies again and those that want to keep the status quo because they do not want to give up their power - and supposed immortality. To make matters worse, the cloning technology is degrading the DNA with each generation so time is running out. Then there is some added intrigue regarding Aeon's own past that leads to some nice love-hate interaction. It's a good story that naturally flows from the setting within which it is placed. Add to that the eye candy and neat technology ideas and you can understand its inclusion in my collection.

There was one nagging detail that got past my efforts at belief suspension, which was the idea that a clone could retain the memories of its original host. That's just silly. I also didn't think Frances McDormand with the frizzy hair worked well as the rebellion leader, but it was a treat to see Sophie Okonedo as an assassin right after her riveting dramatic performance in Hotel Ruwanda. Also, the final gun battle is gratuitous at best, but what a cool idea to place it in the middle of a cherry blossom orchard - like the old Japanese Samurai fights. Then again, the director Karen Kusama is Japanese.

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