Æon Flux (2005)

This is one of those films which has garnered an impressive amount of hate.

I actually quite like it.

Æon Flux started its life as a series of short but extremely stylish animated films by Peter Chung, notable for their rather extreme imagery, often inexplicable events and the fact that Æon died in most episodes.  This was an attempt to create a live action version.

The fans hate it, of course, because it is very different from the original.  However, I usually feel that a film adaptation of a favorite story should be just be accepted as something very different from the original and judged on its own merits.  Which, of course, is why I can, say, enjoy A Sound of Thunder as an absurdly fun little SF adventure, despite its insane deviations from a near-perfect Ray Bradbury short story.  It may still be little more than a guilty pleasure, but that’s better than moping because they tacked those absurd time waves on a great story.

Clearly, this film isn’t what Peter Chung had in mind, but if you ignore that, it is an interesting Action/SF hybrid with a romance of sorts involved.  The film creates a lot of imaginative SF technologies – some of them apparently biological in origin – and displays a lot of bizarre images – some of them, like catching a fly with her eyelashes, straight out of the original.  Perhaps the most notable aspect is the decision to reject the familiar dark and messy Blade Runner inspired imagery we’ve come to expect from every dystopia on the market in favor of a strikingly clean and modernist look (which, yes, hides a dystopia).

Curiously, a number of recent films – like the Divergent series and Oblivion – seem to have arrived at a very similar aesthetic for their clean and tidy dystopias. It seems unlikely that they were in any way influenced by the earlier film, but you never know.  But we also know that sometimes it just takes time for people to accept a new image, regardless of what it is.

So keep your expectations low and your popcorn plentiful.  It may not be great, but if you meet it halfway, it’s a lot of fun.

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