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Æon Flux is a 2005 science fiction film directed by Karyn Kusama. The film is a loose adaptation of the animated science fiction television series of the same name, which was created by animator Peter Chung (who had a minor role in this film version of his work) and stars Charlize Theron as the title character. The film was released on December 2, 2005.

Plot

In a post-apocalyptic future, after a virus has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the Earth's population in the year 2011, survivors inhabit Bregna, a walled city-state, which is ruled by a congress of scientists. Æon Flux is an assassin-member of the 'Monicans', an underground rebel organization who communicate telepathically through use of pills and are led by The Handler. After a mission in destroying a surveillance station, Æon comes home to find her sister Una killed, supposedly mistaken for a Monican. When Æon is sent on a mission to kill the government's leader, Trevor Goodchild, she discovers that she is unwittingly playing a part in a secret coup.

This discovery brings into question the origin and destiny of everyone in Bregna; and in particular, Æon's personal connection to the man she has been sent to assassinate. Ultimately she learns that she is a clone of Goodchild's late wife Katherine, and that he is in fact trying to save humanity by secretly creating a cure for the infertility caused by the antidote for the disease which killed ninety-nine percent of the Earth's population. It turns out that all newborn children in Bregna are clone created with recycled DNA, with the dead constantly being reborn into new individuals and still bearing parts of the memories of their ancestors. One of Trevor's experiments is successful but Oren Goodchild, Trevor's brother, destroys the research in an attempt to stay in power and live forever in the form of clones of himself.

However, in a confrontation with Trevor and Æon, Oren reveals that humanity itself has adapted and some people have regained the ability to have babies on their own. Æon is ultimately forced to go up against both her former allies and Oren but she manages to convince the Monicans not to listen to The Handler and take her side to kill Oren and his men. In a final act, Æon prepares to destroy the housing facility where the DNA used for cloning is stored, a dirigible constantly floating in the sky. She meets the old man who monitors the DNA, who was the doctor who preserved her DNA when Oren ordered it to be destroyed all those years ago. The subsequent crash breaks the wall surrounding the city and for the first time in centuries the population is able to expand into the outside world.

Cast



Production

The screenplay was written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (writers of teen drama/romance Crazy/Beautiful and action–comedy The Tuxedo), and directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight). The character of Æon Flux was played by Oscar-winner Charlize Theron. This film was produced by MTV Films. It is unusual for an MTV Films production in that it is an action film.

In the early stages of production, actress Michelle Rodriguez was considered for the part of Æon. This was perhaps due to her previous partnership with director Kusama in Girlfight.

Karyn Kusama had originally suggested filming in Brasíliamarker, Brazilmarker because the architecture of that city fit with her vision of Bregna. The idea was rejected because Brasília lacked the infrastructure and technical expertise to facilitate a major film production. After scouting several cities around the world, Berlin, Germany was chosen as the location for filming. This was also appropriate as the original television series also featured a divided city. Berlin had several locations that fit into the organic yet structured world of Æon Flux. The crew was able to gain access to several locations that had never allowed filming before including the Treptow Crematorium, the Trudelturm wind tunnel facility and the Haus der Kulturen der Weltmarker ("House of the World's Cultures"). Additional locations include the handler space, a dissection theatre built in 1790 to train veterinarians and the government buildings, set in the Berlin animal shelter.

Filming was temporarily suspended for a month during September 2004 while Theron recovered from a neck injury she suffered during stunt-work on the tenth day of shooting while performing a back handspring. She was hospitalized in Berlin for five days and it took about six weeks of physiotherapy to recover.

Release and reaction

Paramount Pictures chose not to screen Æon Flux for critics prior to its release. The film took US$13.1 million in its opening weekend. On February 9, 2006, it completed its theatrical run, grossing a domestic take of $25,874,337 and a worldwide box office total of $52,304,001. Critical reaction was mixed to negative. The film holds a 10% 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 36 out of 100 on Metacritic. The film was considered a financial failure as the film's earnings were lower than its $62 million budget.

Although Peter Chung was optimistic about the film and was impressed with the sets upon visiting the production, he ultimately described it as "a travesty," adding: "I was unhappy when I read the script four years ago; seeing it projected larger than life in a crowded theatre made me feel helpless, humiliated and sad. ... They claim to love the original version; yet they do not extend that faith to their audience. No, they will soften it for the public, which isn't hip enough to appreciate the raw, pure, unadulterated source like they do." Screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi claimed in an interview that the film was re-cut by the studio prior to release and that original director's cut contains nearly 30 minutes of additional footage, which Chung acknowledged in his criticism of the film.

Comic book prequel

In late 2005, Dark Horse Comics published a four-issue comic book limited series tying in with the movie. The storyline serves as a prequel to the film and is a mixture of Peter Chung's original TV series designs and characters combined with the setting and story elements of the movie. (There are some alterations: the comic book version of Æon only loosely resembles Theron, while her colleague Sithandra, played by a black actress in the film, is depicted as a caucasian in the comic book). The first issue sets up Æon Flux's mission for the miniseries: sabotage the Bregnan government's plan to destroy the forest outside of Bregna's walls. The last two issues of the limited series were published after the film had been released, and by the time the final issue came out, the film had already ended its run in most areas. Dark Horse has not announced if any further Æon Flux-based comics will be published.

Video game

On November 15, 2005, a video game adaptation of the same name was released in North America for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox gaming consoles.

Home media

Æon Flux was released on DVD on April 25, 2006. As of July 16, 2006, the DVD has grossed $31.80 million in rental sales.

References

  1. Æon Flux DVD, The Locations of Æon Flux featurette.
  2. Æon Flux reviews Rotten Tomatoes
  3. Æon Flux reviews Metacritic
  4. Described in Gale Anne Hurd's DVD commentary at 1:06:49
  5. Peter Chung Interview - LiveJournal
  6. Interview with Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi - DVDFile.com


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