Hippo Manchester
December 8, 2005

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Film: Aeon Flux (PG-13)  C-
by Amy Diaz

Charlize Theron fulfills the crappy-action-movie obligation of her post-Oscar contract with Aeon Flux, a pointless attempt to adapt a perfectly bizarre animated series.

Really, it’s in the contract. Just ask Halle Berry.

Aeon Flux, the old Aeon Flux that ran on MTV in the wee hours, was awesomely meaningless. It showed you a bunch of odd, engrossing visuals about buildings shaped like shells, flowers that could kill and insects that were actually robots plus a highly trained assassin/anarchist who committed all sorts of naughtiness for no particular reason. And in some of the episodes, that assassin would die. Why? Doesn’t matter. Aeon Flux was just a relaxing break from Yo! MTV Raps and Headbangers’ Ball.

Now the live-action movie comes along and tries to fill in back story and motivation and reason. Bah, how unnecessary. Aeon (Theron) is now part of a group of freedom fighters looking to bring down a government run by benevolent dictator Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas). The last remaining humans live in a city (clean, multi-ethnic, with lots of parks) that’s a perfect paradise of urban planning and post-modern architecture. But, though the government is a good provider, it sometimes kills people. So Aeon talks to her handler (Frances McDormand, in desperate need of a hairbrush and a better agent) and is told to take out Goodchild. The operation requires defeat of some nifty obstacles (a garden of plants that shoot bullets and razor blades of grass) and to get close enough to Goodchild to take him out. But when Aeon is finally face to face with Trevor, she discovers that he might not be the big bad.

So then there’s more acrobatics and Aeon scampering around in an artfully cut cat suit. She’s supposed to be nimble and coolly analytical and deadly. But mostly she seems sort of desperate, like an actress who realizes that she’s in a lousy movie and is trying to figure out how to make it work for her.

Pull any given still shot out of this film and you probably have a nifty visual — a twisty hallway, an interesting contrast between blue sky and building, a crazy amber-colored shell blimp. But nifty still-frames, though perfect extras to give away with the special-edition DVD, do not make a successful movie.

Once again, TV about nothing is so much better than a movie about whatever.