Aeon Flux  (2005)

It sucked... the way I like.

It’s amazing how much this action movie had the feel of an animation.  Specifically, it was very much in the style of the kind of animation you often see where they don’t have the resources to do a 100% job, or they just don’t try very hard... the kind of animation characterized by long static poses, where like the character’s clothes and hair ripple cyclically in the wind but they don’t otherwise move, and also by flattened affect — i.e. the voice acting is all in a monotone because the actors never rehearse together, they just come in one at a time and recite their lines, and the director never asks them for a better take.  Although these traits originated in cheapness, they’ve created a catchy aesthetic of their own.

So now we’ve got a live film that mimics this aesthetic... even though the original animated version of Æon Flux was definitely not an example of that style!  The acting is uncommonly lifeless by any ordinary standard, and for what looked like it would be a dumb loud action movie, this is remarkably quiet and slow-paced.  (And not really so dumb as all that, either.)  There are other qualities that remind one strongly of animation aesthetics, like the way sci-fi gizmos are exposited with detailed visual closeups but no verbal explanation.

If you appreciate that aesthetic at all, it kind of helps the film’s style make sense in a way that it might not for someone who never watches that kind of animation.

So...  Why on Earth did they cast two Best Actress oscar winners in a film that calls for an almost total avoidance of acting?  You got me.  Charlize’s talents really don’t lie in this direction.  When it comes to athletic stuntery, she may be fit but she can’t really compete with someone like, say, Halle Berry as capoeira Catwoman.  (And given that they not only wasted Charlize’s talents but injured her neck during filming, the karma on this has got to be seriously negative.)  But nonetheless... ow ow ow, that’s hot.  Damn.

I’m glad they didn’t do the usual Hollywood schtick of casting someone really skinny as an ass-kicker.  I mean, that doesn’t work, real-world-wise.  Charlize is, y’know, solid.

So I certainly can’t say it’s a good movie in absolute terms — it’s mostly, after all, just about someone wearing cool looking clothes in order to shoot guns and beat people up, not unlike Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle — but somehow it added up to a movie I was glad I went to see.  Whereas I found the Angels movie pretty near unwatchable.

And the story is nothing revolutionary, but it’s deep as the hull of the Titanic compared to the cartoon.  I mean, the original animated episodes were basically just Peter Chung slapping together random cool-looking shit with no background at all, and relying on the audience to invent some kind of story for it in their own heads.  And that’s what the writers of this movie did — they invented a story that fits the clues in the cartoon... and overall, given the quality of the materials they started with, they did a pretty decent job of it.