on Flux (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“Æon Flux” is something I remember from about a dozen years back. Back in the days when I watched MTV. I can recollect a busty woman, dressed in black spandex (or what appeared to be black spandex anyway) going around a maze of buildings shooting anything that moved. MTV only showed the animation in five minute shorts and it was hard to get a linear picture of what the hell was really happening. Well thank God for movies, eh? Nearly a dozen years after the acclaimed cartoon comes the movie complete with a scantily clad Charlize Theron. Unlike other adaptations, you won’t really need to be that familiar with the cartoon for this to make sense. It’s been so long since the shorts were featured on MTV (as far as I can recall, anyway) that the movie tells us all we need to know. Director Karyn Kusama also directed 2000’s “Girlfight” – another against all odds story.

In the year 2011 a mysterious virus has wiped out 99% of the Earth’s population and the remaining survivors fought off death any way they could. The Goodchild’s developed a vaccine to allow the human race to prosper and for the next 400 years that’s just what they did. They live in a perfect society where all is well so long as they stay in the confines of their own little world. However, there is a group of rebels called the Monicans that want to overthrow the Goodchild dynasty and Æon Flux (Charlize Theron) is their best assassin. Æon gets her instructions in some sort of spiritual plane by the Handler (Frances McDormand), a safe haven for the rebels to meet and talk. Æon and Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo) make their way to assassinate Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), the most powerful man in the world. However once they have their chance, something happens that makes Æon change her mind. I won’t reveal what it is, but the second act of the movie gives some depth to the action-packed first half.

I have to admit that I was really anticipating “Æon Flux” and I really wasn’t too let down. I have to give it to Charlize Theron, she was freshly adorned an Oscar for her work in “Monster” and was nominated again for “North Country” and still found time to suit up in black spandex to the delight of teenage boys (and me)! There are some pretty cool special effects and it’s more like a trip for the imagination. I’ll probably have to go back and watch the old cartoons (coincidentally enough, the entire series was released when the movie came out) and see how faithful the movie was. While the movie certainly has its’ detractors, it will undoubtedly have a cult following as well. As for me, I liked it and if you can suspend your disbelief for 92 minutes – you will too.

Video: How does it look?

In my review of the standard DVD I mentioned that “…there are scenes in “Æon Flux” that look so crystal clear, you feel you could touch the actors through your television set…” well, that rings especially true in the High Definition version and anything that was “wrong” in the standard DVD has been corrected for its HD release. The wide 2.40:1 aspect ratio looks crystal clear in most every shot. And as with most of the HD-DVD releases, there’s a new layer of depth with the background shots, that seem to give even more of a 3D effect while watching. The annoying edge enhancement that plagued a couple of the scenes in the earlier release is nowhere to be found here and I might just have a new reference-quality HD-DVD in “Æon Flux”.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack is one of the few HD-DVD’s that actually improves on the original Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of the standard DVD. During a few sequences, I noticed that the sound seemed a little more robust and, for comparison’s sake, I broke out the standard DVD and did a little A/B test. Sure enough, the Dolby Digital Plus registered a few ticks higher on the sound meter (yep, I acaully use one on occasion) and had a lot more presence. Even in more subdued scenes, the effects seemed to pack more of a punch. Again, on the technical level, Æon Flux delivers not only a perfect video transfer but a near reference-quality soundtrack as well.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If you forked out the money to buy Æon Flux on DVD a few months back, you might want to re-invest it in the HD version. The HD-DVD version ports over the same supplements as the standard DVD with two audio commentaries, one with Charlize Theron and producer Gale Anne Hurd and the other with co-screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Theron and Hurd’s commentary is the more interesting one, with details about the shoot, the story behind “Æon Flux” and, yes, Theron’s jet black hair. Hay and Manfredi’s commentary is a lot more detail oriented and, well, a lot more boring. Given a choice, I’d listen to the first one. The disc also comes equipped with five featurettes: “Creating a World: ‘Aeon Flux”, “The Locations of ‘Aeon Flux’”, “The Stunts of ‘Aeon Flux’”, “The Costume Design of ‘Aeon Flux’”, and “The Craft of the Set Photographer on ‘Aeon Flux’”. Each of these shows details on the different aspects of the shoot which range from to the location to the stunts and the costume design (essentially, they’re all self-explanatory). The original theatrical trailer is included. Bottom line: you’ll either love or hate “Æon Flux” and I’m not one of the haters.

Disc Scores