When MTV Does Sci-fi


Cue the ghosts of future past…

MTV has turned out some pretty memorable movies but they’re not always memorable for the same reasons. There’s 2001’s Save the Last Dance, with all its ballet-meets-hiphop coolness. There’s 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite with its endlessly quotable kitsch. There’s the unbelievably low-key 2006 movie, Broken Bridges starring Toby Keith, Burt Reynolds, Kelly Preston and a pretty Lindsay Haun song. There’s the ill-advised and badly executed Pootie Tang from 2001, but we’ll skip that.


Then there’s the 2005 sci-fi film, Æon Flux, a melange of cool visuals, unconventional and in some cases, uncomfortable uses of the human body, and mistaken impressions.

The year is 2415, and the city-state of Bregna is seemingly idyllic, the people perfect, the society safe and comfortable. They’ve been told that what’s beyond the walls of their city is wild and dangerous, as nature has taken over the places where man used to dwell, but at least they seem to be free of the “Industrial Disease,” so that’s good.


“Seem” is the operative word, though, because the entire population of the city is having nightmares, which are more like strange images of places and people they don’t know anything about. Worse, people mysteriously disappear, leaving loved ones to gaze sadly at anyone who looks remotely like the family member or friend they lost.

Some just go about their days and accept everything that happens without question. Some know there’s something not right about Bregna but try to make the best of a weirdly good or bad situation. Some, like Æon Flux (Charlize Theron) want to take out the head scientist, Chairman Goodchild (Marton Csokas) and free the people of Bregna because they know life as they’ve known it is unsustainable.


Æon is part of a resistance group called the Monicans, who communicate either via telepathy, messages delivered via a swallowed tablet, or by what looks like a special bullet just under the skin. Secrecy is of the utmost importance because everyone is under surveillance all the time. Æon receives one message, for instance, by walking up to a seemingly random guy and giving him a French kiss, during which he passes a capsule to her.

The mission takes on a whole new significance when Æon’s sister, Una (Amelia Warner) is suddenly killed by an unknown murderer right before she and Æon are supposed to have dinner. Una is one of the quiet ones who wants to make the best out of life in Bregna even though she knows there’s something wrong, and Æon takes her death hard, especially since Una was the only family member she had left. It’s been a year since Una died, and Æon is angry that she’s only just now being ordered to assassinate Goodchild.


As Æon gets deeper into her mission, she finds out she and the Monicans were wrong about certain things. Those she thought were threats aren’t really, while those who seem innocent are the ones to be dealt with. She also finds out what happened to her sister and where her nightmares have been coming from. I’m not going to ruin anything, but suffice it to say, Æon and the people of Bregna will never be the same.

Æon Flux was based on the 1991 animated show by Peter Chung, and a few changes were made for the movie. For one thing, the animation style of the series was kind of repulsive and overly active and it feels gross. No one’s lips should move the way Æon’s did in the bits that I saw–she’s like a caricature of Edward G. Robinson or something. For another, Æon is basically a dystopian Kenny because she dies in all the early episodes, except Cartman never wore clothes as revealing as Æon’s.


The changes came down to more than Æon constantly dying and the amount of fabric she wore. Like I said, the film is built around the idea of the false threat, which isn’t exactly original. There’s an Arch Oboler radio play from 1939 called “Bathysphere,” in which an unnamed protagonist takes a dictator underwater in a submersible on the pretense of setting a new depth record, when the real plan is to kill him. The problem is, the guy gets derailed when he finds out the dictator is only pretending to be a tyrant to keep the real threats at bay. It’s not exactly like Æon Flux, but the similarities are pretty hard to ignore.

Other than that, I have mixed-to-negative feelings about the movie. On one hand it looks really cool, like something Denis Villeneuve would do as far as saturation and spare environments but with more texture, except that this is before Villeneuve was a major director. A lot of the visuals were shot in Berlin using structures built by the Nazis because they looked suitably dystopian, which is kind of creepy but sort of cool from an historical standpoint.


Those are the high points. Other than that, there are liberal sprinklings of ickiness, starting with the opening credits. The first scene shows Æon catching a fly in her eyelashes, which is a holdover from the original series but it’s still really gross. These people are constantly absorbing things through their eyes and tongues, plus they have weird BB-like communicators just under their skin and we get to see them in closeup because they roll them around by means of telepathically calling each other. Lovely, right?

I also had trouble engaging with this movie, and it wasn’t just because I felt held at arm’s length by the icky stuff. The plot is very choppy, it blatantly copies The Matrix, including Bullet Time, and the whole thing feels very sterile. I hadn’t seen Æon Flux in a long time, and I really, really tried to be engaged, but after about an hour I started wondering if I had become jaded since the first time around.


Turns out I wasn’t the only one, as the movie got an embarrassing nine percent critics’ rating and thirty-nine percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Peter Chung didn’t even like it. Yikes. Still, if anyone is a fan of the original animated series, it might be worth a look.

For more of the Futurethon, please see Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry at Cinematic CatharsisThanks for hosting this, y’all–it was fun! Thanks for reading, everyone, and hope to see you tomorrow for a surprise blogathon…

Æon Flux is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.

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21 thoughts on “When MTV Does Sci-fi

  1. Catching a fly with her eyelashes?! That does sound icky! LOL

    I’ve only vaguely heard of this movie and series, but I think I’ll skip it. I mean, I’m not even a fan of the matrix.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I vaguely remember the animated series Æon Flux (I only saw a few episodes because I didn’t care for the animation), but I never have seen the movie. I will have to check it out some time!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I barely remember this movie but do remember having mixed feelings too. I think the visuals were stunning (and creepy at times) and there was so much potential (I know it sounds cliche but it could have been an awesome movie). I did love those ball things that rolled (ran?) through the one building to help Aeon I think…I vaguely remember that (hopefully correctly). But yes, the rest was…hmmm…just weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All this time I thought Aeon Flux was just a standard-issue action flick with sci-fi overtones. I like weirdness when it’s done well, but those Rotten Tomatoes scores are like blinking red warnings. Somehow, I’m tempted to sample the original animated series just to see how gross it could be (or maybe not). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charlize T is a goddess; she can do anything, any genre, comedy, drama, action–and look beautiful doing it! (Except when she chooses not to, as in her Oscar-winning deglamorized performance in Monster, of course!) Need to see this one again.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great review of what appears to be a not-so-great movie, Rebecca. I was never really into the animated series, so I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. I still haven’t seen it, and based on your less-than-stellar assessment, I’ll probably pass. Thanks so much for joining the Futurethon!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review of what appears to be a not-so-great movie, Rebecca. I never really cared for the animated series, so my hopes weren’t high for the movie. Judging by your post, I guess I didn’t miss much. 😉 Thanks so much for joining the Futurethon!

    Liked by 1 person

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