DVD Review HTF Review: Aeon Flux

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PatWahlquist, Apr 23, 2006.

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  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]

    Aeon Flux

    Studio: Paramount Home Video
    Rated: PG-13 (Violence and sexual content)
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays
    Audio: English DD 5.1; English DD 2.0 surround; French 5.1 surround;
    Subtitles: English; Spanish
    Time: 92 minutes
    Disc Format: 1 DVD-9
    Case Style: Keep case
    Theatrical Release Date: 2005
    DVD Release Date: April 25, 2006

    In 2011, a virus kills 99% of the world’s population. A scientist, Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), develops a cure allowing the five million survivors to live in Bregna, the last city on earth. Goodchild begins a dynasty that rules for 400 years, which of course means at some point rebels will emerge to challenge such a regime. These rebels are called Monicans, who are apparently infused with enhanced physical capabilities coupled with the extensive use of biotechnology. The Monicans are fighting for what they see as the oppressive Goodchild regime, as it keeps everything peaceful as long as the citizens remain the same (this will make sense as you watch it). Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron) is given a mission by The Handler (Frances McDormand) to sabotage Goodchild’s central surveillance facility as a means to blind them against the Monicans activities. Before she heads off on the mission, Aeon spends some time with her sister, Una (Amelia Warner), who cautions Aeon on her mission.

    Aeon returns home from her mission to find her sister has been killed. This of course sends Aeon off on a revenge mission in which she feels, ultimately, Goodchild is responsible. When The Handler sends Aeon on another mission, this time to assassinate Goodchild, she is confronted with memories of a hazy past kept just outside of her mind’s eye. Once she confronts Goodchild, she finds out more about her past and that Goodchild and his work is not actually what it seems. She learns her life and that of all of Bregna’s citizens are part of a 400 year process developed to keep the species alive. As this has been going on, the scientific types have determined the process has a nasty side effect (this side effect is important to the rest of the picture, so I won’t spoil it for you here). Goodchild’s ambitious brother, Oren (Johnny Lee Miller), no longer agrees with his brother’s philosophy so he stages a coup and takes over the government. This action pushes Goodchild and Aeon together on a common mission for the greater good of species all the while uncovering secrets of both of their pasts.

    “Aeon Flux” does not have too deep a plot, because we don’t want such a thing to get in the way of the action and the stunts. It does, however, have one of the best looking production designs I’ve seen in some time. You are instantly transported into Aeon’s world of artistic architecture and high and stylistic fashion. In much the same way Luc Besson and Gauthier collaborated on “The Fifth Element”, I can see the same type of collaboration between “Aeon Flux”’s director Karyn Kusama and her production designer, Andrew McAlpine. This, coupled with the excellent work of the costumers and set designers gives us a truly unique vision of the future.

    I have seen only a few of the animated shows, and those I did see were during the original run on MTV. I remember being fairly impressed with the look of the show and the animation, but it never clicked for me. The movie, while it needs about twenty more minutes of plot and characterization, does a good job of bringing you into Aeon’s world and entertaining you for 93 minutes. None of the actor’s stand out, and I still find it to be a very interesting and bold choice for an Academy Award winner to take. Theron makes the role her own and her commitment to it (as well as the physical aspects of the job) continues to show me what a versatile performer she is.

    Video:
    The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 image features one of the best color presentations of almost any picture I’ve seen! Remember all those HD demo reels you would see that show colorful people in colorful surroundings, such as Japanese flower gardens? This is what “Aeon Flux” reminds me of. The picture’s extensive use of color throughout the entire feature literally pops off the screen. There is a scene in the beginning of the picture where Aeon and Una are walking through the outdoor marketplace that really shows this off. Flowers, plants and fruit show incredible detail and range of colors, so much so you want to reach out and grab them. The costumes and sets are just as well represented with wide ranging colors that go from the drab and cold concrete buildings of Goodkind’s complex (a business park chic, if you will) to the warm, organic settings of the citizens of Bregna. We are constantly presented with contrasting and conflicting cool and warm hues to further emphasize the disparity of the government and the citizens. Flesh tones are, as expected, well represented and they show nice differences between the actors.

    Foreground detail is very sharp and well defined, but background detail tends to smudge and blur. You can see this in most of the outdoor scenes: as you look closely at the foliage and trees, you cannot see quite as much detail as I believe could have been there. Edge enhancement is unfortunately very noticeable. With such a beautifully shot picture, I wish Paramount would have upped the bit rate for the picture to enhance every detail and pushed the extras onto the second disc. I did not notice any film dirt or video compression artifacts. Black levels are deep but still retain detail in the darker scenes. As I mentioned in my recent review of “Event Horizon”, I sincerely hope Paramount gets this title out on HD soon so we can see all of this glorious detail as it should be seen.


    Audio:
    I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track engaged. I was expecting a big and noisy audio spectacle, but I was instead presented with a very subtle soundtrack. While there are moments of explosive noise, overall, it is a very relaxed mix that emphasizes the characters actions without blasting you out of your seat. The surrounds get a very good workout for ambient and musical effects and it keeps you planted in the middle of the sound field. I loved the homage to the animated version at the beginning of the picture where the fly is buzzing about and is captured in Aeon’s eyelashes. I had forgotten about this sequence from the opening of the animated show and I found myself looking around the room to find that pesky fly. LFE effects are very natural sounding without being boomy. The front channels provide an excellent soundstage on their own and panning effects blend seamlessly from one to another.


    Bonus Material:
    Feature Length Commentary with Producer Gale Anne Hurd and Charlize Theron: Hurd and Theron give us some insight into the production of the picture, including the specific sets and locations. Theron goes into her injury that delayed production. These two do not go into anything too detailed about the technical aspects of the film, which with this being such an effects and action oriented picture, I would have liked more of this. You do, however, get a ton of info about the weather conditions of the shoot. The commentary could have been a knockout if the director had been involved. She is, however, interviewed extensively in the following documentaries.

    Feature Length Commentary with Co-Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi: The screenwriters go into depth about the politics of writing a high profile picture for a major studio, and its not always a good thing. They also comment on specifics of the scripts and the over-riding themes. Of the two commentaries, this one is better.

    Creating A World: Aeon Flux (20:46):The production team talks about how “Aeon Flux” was translated from an animated show to a movie. Peter Cheung is also interviewed and there several examples of similar shots between the animated show and the movie.

    The Locations of Aeon Flux (14:42): The production team explains how they chose Berlin as the shooting location. They show us a lot of behind the scenes shots in and around Berlin.

    The Stunts of Aeon Flux (9:00): Some great behind the scenes shots of Theron stretching and rolling around on mats while wearing spandex. Oh, yeah, and they talk about the stunt work.

    The Costume Design Workshop of Aeon Flux (13:30): The costume designers explain how they wanted to use more elegant costumes as opposed to the flat out sexuality of the animated show. The costuming was one of my favorite aspects of this picture and this is a great doc.

    The Craft of the Set Photographer on Aeon Flux (2:35): This is an odd choice for a doc, but we are shown what a set photographer does: he sits next to the film camera and snaps still shots of the action.

    Theatrical Trailer


    Conclusions:
    While “Aeon Flux” has its share of weaknesses, it is a very nice DVD presentation. I would not hesitate to throw in this disc to show off my system, much the same way I traditionally used “The Fifth Element”. The production team shows an artistic eye in all aspects of the production and this comes through on the screen. While this will be even more impressive on an HD disc format, don’t cheat yourselves now by waiting.
     
  2. RogerH

    RogerH Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review. I'll be renting this later in the week.
     
  3. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    I feel pretty much the same way about the movie. On the other hand, I think your review spoils some things about the movie that are better left a surprise, specifically the nature of the cure for the virus.
     
  4. JonathanYu

    JonathanYu Auditioning

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    The DVD's presentation is pretty well but the movie plot is so poor except Theron's awesome figure.
     
  5. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    Nice review, but I will be avoiding this like the plague. This has got to be one of the worst films I have ever seen.

    To the curious, I would definitely recommend a rental over a blind buy....
     
  6. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review!

    Curious if anyone knows whether this will get a directors cut or a 2 disk special edition in the future? The reveiwer seesm to think the movie was too short so maybe they will be doing something ala Elektra to this film?

    Dave
     
  7. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    Rental for me, never saw it in the movies, didn't get great reviews and the only thing that will make me rent it is the quality of the picture. Interested in seeing it.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i disagree with putting this movie as demo in the same league as fifth element.
    not even close to me.

    i thought pq was better then what has been appearing on dvd lately but not close to 5th, especially the new sb version.

    the movie was just awful.
    i would never put this back into my player to show anyone.

    i lost most of my interest near the beginning when the woman with hands for her feet stepped on the pointy grass and continued on as if she merely had a blister on her, hand.

    plus i kept thinking of the character from the simpsons that dr nick switched one of his hands for his foot or something.

    bad.
     
  9. JonathanYu

    JonathanYu Auditioning

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    Hmm.. I don't think the Paramount may issue the director's cut 'cause Paramount seldom does so.
     
  10. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    In my Netflix queue. I expect it tomorrow.
     
  11. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I liked this movie. A very unique sci-fi film. Great art direction.
     
  12. RogerH

    RogerH Supporting Actor

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    I watched it last night I enjoyed it. I guess a sequel is out of the question though [​IMG]
     
  13. Jack Johnson

    Jack Johnson Second Unit

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    Did Paramount enclose an insert in this release? All I got was a promotional leaflet for the animated series...

    And yes, I bought it. A perfectly respectable Sci-Fi film that was really unguarded about that fact. That, together with its slightly self-conscious solemnity inspiring a few titters were its chief liabilities. But I applaud it for playing it straight and making at earnest attempt at a genre film. It delivers the goods. Theron and those sleek visuals--hers too--and a number of competent action sequences sell it. I also welcomed the simpler--but still exotic--visual scheme in an age when everything's just so busy and you can't enjoy the texture of it.

    Just a reminder: any word on the insert, or lack thereof?


    Thanks,

    --Jack
     
  14. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    Jack, I got the same thing in my copy. Thankfully, Paramount gives me release copies, not the screeners poor Sam has to deal with from Universal.
     
  15. Chuck Bogie

    Chuck Bogie Second Unit

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    To me, I thought the sound just sorta sounded kinda dull - Kinda like one of those albums that you _know_ was mixed for the ipod generation.
     
  16. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    Silly me, I kinda expect movies to have a plot. I'd rather the action/stunts not get in the way of the story but serve it. "Flux" was purely style over substance and even that wasn't terribly impressive.

    Big thumbs down from me.
     
  17. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I hope they release the director's cut to DVD one day. It is 25 minutes longer and an interview (over at chud) with one of the screenwriters talks a little bit about the DC.
     
  18. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    I was expecting the worst movie ever made when I watched it. I was pleasently surprised, but it wasn't as good as it could have been. I was only able to watch the first DVD of the TV series and was intrigued so I knew a little more about the background, but the movie really rushes things.

    I give it a 6/10 - and will do so come the podcast as well.
     
  19. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    I watched Aeon Flux last night with somewhat low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I guess it could have been better but I really liked it.
     
  20. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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    I watched it Saturday night. It kept me entertained enough to finish the movie, but I won't be watching it again. Borderline boring.
     

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