Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Written by: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Starring: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonn Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo, Frances McDormand
The genre of science-fiction has the potential of showing the reality of our world through a fantastical lens that makes things more apparent. When it succeeds, they create my favorite films and when they crash and burn like Æon Flux, it shows that some ideas should not have been made with the limitation of the technology in their age.
Taking place in 2415, where 99% of the human population on Earth has been eradicated, a walled city named Bregna contains most of human civilization. Within those walls is an oppressive regime that appears to be peddling a utopia but will silence any dissenters. As an agent of the resistance, Æon Flux (Charlize Theron) seeks to tear down this facade in very stylish gear.
The world created in Æon Flux fits the bill of several science-fiction features where humanity lives under certain circumstances due to world-ending events. It shows humanity coming together for the basic instinct of survival. It also does not surprise that even when 99% of the population dies, authoritarianism will rise even within that 1% left. It occurs in a city that appears to be a utopia where plenty of food can be found and harmony seems commonplace. Of course, everything sinister happens under the surface and should be made clear to anyone clever enough to pay attention, which represents the Monicans.
These rebels and the rest of the people in Bregna where some interesting and very 2000s outfits to do their fighting. The hair work also looked very different for Charlize Theron and out of this world for Frances McDormand as they tried to really capture just how weird the entire world became. I wonder what led to all of these outfits because they seem out of place for the world they create in Bregna. That could be said, but the world they create feels so plastic and artificial that nothing occurring could frankly be taken seriously. Nothing makes it more evident than the spikey grass. Æon needs to make her way into a facility and one of the deterrents of entry turns what seems to be regular grass into razor-sharp daggers that could puncture if landed on. The idea behind using them will forever be a valiant effort but the way it came across on screen was nothing but laughable. It could be due to the limitations of the technology available at the time or simply that it would never work out in any instance.
When looking at her overall filmography, Æon Flux really sticks out in Karyn Kusama’s body of work. From her gritty drama Girlfight and uncomfortable horror film, The Invitation, Kusama creates incredible moods with her films and makes them feel gritty and real. This film has the complete opposite of it all in spades. Everything looks artificial and the performances from actors like Theron and McDormand feel incredibly wooden. It only makes sense that these women simply got wrapped into this large project because none of them came out looking good from this particular production. It feels like something that had these large aspirations to be a breakout success for Kusama but has done nothing and became ultimately forgotten. I’m glad she’s been able to brush this one off and go on to make the smaller excellent films that focus more on story rather than pointless world-building.
I completely forgot about Æon Flux after watching it and most who have seen it can probably agree. It tried to open this world based on this anime but further proves some things should simply not be brought into the live-action sphere. It loses its inventiveness and wonder and the world of Bregna feels like a digitized world with nothing tangible, which made everything else feel incredibly fake. One to gladly forget as everyone involved went on to do much better work.