Welcome to a new series on Fandomania, where we introduce The Cinema Doctor, our cinema specialist, who takes in ailing patients… patients who happen to be some of the most lackluster films in cinema! Marvel as The Cinema Doctor examines, diagnoses, and prescribes to the ailing patients of celluloid.
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Starring: Charlize Theron, Martin Csokas, Sophie Okonedo, Johnny Lee Miller, and Frances McDormand
Based on the MTV animated series created by Peter Chung
PATIENT DESCRIPTION: In the distant future, mankind’s population has been reduced to a few million. Now, in the 25th century, the human race lives in the perfect utopian society of Bregna. Bregna is lorded over by the Goodchild Regime, and they seek to sustain their Utopia. But like any perfect society there are secrets, and a faction of rebels dubbed “The Monicans” seek to expose those secrets. The Monicans send their best agent, Aeon Flux, to assassinate party leader Trevor Goodchild. Unbeknownst to Aeon, Goodchild is the least of their troubles.
EXAMINATION: HEALTHY ASPECTS
- Charlize Theron captures the character perfectly. Aeon’s independence, her lethal abilities, her steely gaze, her feisty confidence, and her otherworldly physicality are all present in Theron’s performance.
- The aesthetics of the animated series are effectively brought into the live action realm with stunning locations and production design.
- Many classic moments from the series are recreated. Examples include the iconic eye-flytrap from the opening credits, the border run from the episode “A Last Time For Everything,” and the harmonic harness from the debut episode “Utopia or Deuteranopia.”
- Other sub-characters from the series are brought to life in the film.
- Costume design isn’t a slave to the designs of the animated series, and as a result creates costumes that are elegant and yet show a remarkable fidelity to the original series.
EARLY ASSESSMENT: This film’s heart is very much in the right place. It’s clear that they desire to bring the fantastic world of the animated series to life, and seeing these things in place gives you an idea that they thought really hard about how to bring those elements to the screen. If there were some things that couldn’t make the transition, the filmmakers compensate for it to the best of their abilities.
- The story is simple minded to an extreme fault. The narrative structure of the original series is extremely complicated, and notoriously required repeat viewings in order to discern the intricacies of the subtext and, in some cases, the context. The story of the film is overly linear, and never strives to match the narrative techniques of the original series.
- Martin Csokas is totally wrong for the character of Trevor Goodchild. You see him, and you never really believe that he can do the things that Trevor Goodchild is meant to do.
- The characterization of Trevor Goodchild is also completely wrong, and because they failed to capture the character, the intrigue of the story is ruined.
- Johnny Lee Miller’s character is obviously created because of the way they changed Trevor’s character, and as an effect we lose any kind of spontaneity due to the addition of a character who has villain written all over him.
- Though some of the action sequences are gorgeously mounted and capture the surrealism of the cartoon series, many of the others lack any kind of tension. It’s clear that director Karyn Kusama may have been a bit in over her head and was still struggling to find her sea legs in action filmmaking.
DIAGNOSIS: Cateritis Audiensus
If this film was made around the time that MTV produced the original series it can be assumed that they would probably have been more daring and strived to make a more uncompromising film that would find its audience organically like the original series. Unfortunately, the film has been made in a time when MTV has whored itself out to an audience whose dwindling intelligence has caused the once great network to sacrifice its integrity as a creative juggernaut. So they resolved to cater to an audience who has lost the means to comprehend things on an elevated level. The final result gives us a watered down version of a brilliant science fiction series.
Aeon Flux has the potential to make the transition into cinema. There’s enough meat on the core story for ninety minutes of screentime. The essence of the series is that you have Aeon and Trevor, two people who adhere to their own respective philosophies. She is a free-spirited anarchist who believes in natural progression, while Trevor is a idealistic demigod who feels that mankind’s destiny should only be in man’s hands. Despite this obvious differences of opinion, these two are invariably attracted to each other. They were always meant to clash, and they were always meant to connect. This relationship alone is enough to fuel ninety minutes of screentime, and the rest of the story can be developed from that point.
Aeon Flux was embraced by audiences some time after the series ended and became a cult hit. The movie could’ve had the same impact if they approached it on an artistic level as opposed to an audience level. Granted the film may not do business in the theaters, but if the film is good it will find its audience through different mediums. As previously stated there was potential for capturing the outrageousness of the action in the TV series, and if you want to offer us something new all you have to do is show us that it is possible to recreate that kind of surrealism. Finally, some choice recasting would also be advised, and a different director would also be recommended.
- Write a more complex story that adheres to the traditions of the series.
- Recreate the dynamic between the two leads.
- Ditch Johnny Lee Miller’s character.
- Replace Martin Csokas with Christopher Eccleston.
- Change the inexperienced director Kusama for a director whose repertoire matches the sensibility of the series. Darren Aronofsky would be ideal.
CAN THIS PATIENT BE SAVED?
It’ll be a lot of work, but I think we can save this patient.