Sunday, March 27, 2016

Æon Flux (Karyn Kusama, 2005)

It's been widely noted in the annals of noteworthiness that the creator of the Æon Flux universe, Peter Chung, felt helpless, humiliated and sad as he watched Æon Flux, the Hollywood adaptation of his much beloved animated science fiction series, with an audience (the series, in case you didn't know, initially aired on MTV's Liquid Television... Canada's MuchMusic would show the shorts on City Limits). Now, I can understand him feeling helpless and humiliated. I mean, imagine if somebody came along and turned your anti-utopian masterpiece into a bland slab of flavourless tripe. You wouldn't be all that thrilled, now would you? Of course you wouldn't. However, I have to question Mr. Chung's sadness. Sure, watching people you barely know ruin your life's work will make anyone sad, but the film, directed by Karyn Kusama, does sport Charlize Theron walking down a flight of stairs in a runway-quality, sci-fi disco bondage gear. I know, you're thinking to yourself: Why should Mr. Chung, or anyone else for that matter, care about Charlize's outfit? Take a closer look at what she's wearing. Exactly, she's wearing a skirt with massive slit down the front. And what does that massive slit help reveal? That's right, black stockings, baby! Just to be clear. I'm not letting this movie off the hook in terms of being a complete and utter failure. I'm just saying, if you look hard enough, you just might find what you're looking for.

It was also comforting to know that black stockings are still being worn by women in the year 2415. Unfortunately, Æon Flux (Charlize Theron) only seems to wear black stockings when she's casually strolling around Bregna, stopping occasionally  to orally exchange Francis McDormand in pill form from hunky Monicans. For the rest of the time, she's usually infiltrating government buildings in skin-tight bodysuits. Wait. Hold on. That previous sentence doesn't make a lick of sense. No, not the bodysuit one. The other previous one. Bregna? Monicans? Francis McDorman in pill form? What the hell, man?

Hey, did anyone else think that the Monicans, who, it turns out, are an underground resistance movement, were inspired by Monica from Friends? Just me, eh? Anyway, if any of the Friends is going to inspire an underground resistance movement four hundred years in the future, I thought it would have been Chandler Bing. In addition, Chandlerites has a nice ring to it. Seriously, though, I've read that the Chandler character has influenced the manner in which most people speak in North America. I hear it's even called the "Chandler cadence" in some linguistic circles.

Since I kind of explained what the Monicans are. I might as well give you the skinny on Bregna and Francis McDormand in pill form. The former is easy, as Bregna is the name of the walled city where the only humans left on Earth live. If I had to describe Bregna to someone who had never been there, I would say it's like Logan's Run meets the garden center at your local Home Depot. Meaning, things are deceptively peaceful in Bregna. Oh, and there's a sale on ornamental razor grass and weaponized fruit trees.

(Huh?) Seriously, if you want to keep lithe lady ninjas with fly-catching eyelashes and grumpy assassins with hands for feet off your front lawn, make sure your fruit trees are installed with latest poison dart delivery systems.

As for Francis McDormand in pill form. Ah, jeez. Where do I begin? I'm not sure, but I think Francis McDormand is the leader of the Monicans. However, since Bregna is basically a surveillance state that frowns upon independent thought, Francis McDormand's "Handler" must communicate her subversive ideas to her operatives directly to their brains.

If watching Æon Flux ingest the Francis McDormand pill reminded you of a commercial for the nation's leading antacid, you're not alone, as that's first thing I thought of when she took the pill. Once the pill enters your bloodstream, you get to talk to Francis McDormand. Well, you don't exactly get to talk. She basically gives you an order, and if you want to remain a Monican, you will follow it without fail.

And the order Francis McDormand gives Miss Flux involves disrupting the surveillance apparatus that keeps a watchful eye on the residents of Bregna. You know Æon Flux is good at what she does when she infiltrates the facility at night while wearing all-white.

Since that mission went so well, Francis McDormand gives Æon Flux another one right away. And it's one that Æon Flux is itching to do, as she is instructed to assassinate Bregna's leader, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), the man she blames for killing her sister.

Only problem being, when Æon goes in for the kill, she can't pull the trigger. Is there something between Æon Flux and Trevor Goodchild? And why did Trevor call Æon "Katherine"?

Personally, I could care less, as it's been almost an hour now, and no-one has shot anyone yet. Every time I would turn on the animated series back in the day, I would see Æon Flux gunning down hundreds of minions. But this movie seems to go out of its way to not show Æon shoot anyone.

Eventually, just after the hour mark, Æon Flux finally does end up shooting someone. However, you have to wait until the final showdown to see Æon Flux blow away hordes of faceless henchmen. The sight of the henchmen falling like dominoes off a ledge as direct result of Æon Flux-orchestrated gunfire was the closet thing this film came to replicating the awesomeness of the animated series.

What I recommend doing is, watch the scene where Charlize Theron walks down a flight of stairs in an outfit that reveals the top portion of her left black stocking and orally exchanges Francis McDormand in pill form to Stuart Townsend (who looks like he just came straight from shooting an ad for Prada's new line of men's coats) and then fast-forward to the part when Charlize guns down lot's of henchmen. You could stop every time Francis McDormand appears on-screen (her character has a large mane of kooky red hair), but it's not really worth it. It's almost as if Hollywood doesn't know how to make an entertaining bad movie anymore. As both this, and the similar Ultraviolet, are devoid of fun and have zero camp-appeal.

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