Right away, Aeon Flux feels like the cartoon in the sense that it drops you right into the plot. Like many post-apocalyptic movies, the plot is summed up via voice over in the first few minutes. The year is 2415 and most of humanity has been wiped out by a deadly virus. The survivors have banded together and live in a mega-city named Brengna with its leader Trevor Goodchild. Aeon is a member of a group of rebels fighting against the Goodchild family named the Monicans. It starts off pretty simple but very quickly the plot becomes increasingly complex, with a scope that gets a bit too big for its running time. However, I’m going to turn that into a positive. I personally would rather have a plot too big for the running time than one that struggles to fill it.
Visually, Aeon Flux totally works on me big time, and as the movie played my shell of hate for it slowly crumbled. There were a few scenes where I was so taken back by the visuals that I was sure they had stolen it from the cartoon. After watching the cartoon again, I discovered they had taken themes, but not stolen the visuals, which impressed me. In some cases I feel like similar sequences were handled better in the movie than in the cartoon -- in particular a scene where Aeon Flux and her partner need to traverse a series of booby-traps and sentry guns. The movie decides to have it be in a deadly garden rather than the cement Cold War style portrayed in the cartoon. It works, and there are several shots (one in particular where Aeon is jumping over holes in the concrete creating an amazing negative space image) that seemed inspired. Directly following the garden scene, Aeon is tasked with destroying the Goodchild surveillance network shown as images in water dropping from the ceiling. I don’t know if this was the original idea or one that was made after shooting locations were found; either way, another score in the visuals department.
Now I’m watching Aeon Flux and I do not hate it. I’m actually moving closer to liking it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. Like many movies, it has a third act problem and a few of the characters have odd motivations for making some of their decisions, but not enough to make me hate it -- I’ve forgiven movies for less. I think the biggest problem that Aeon Flux has and what is responsible for much of the hate is two parts: the first is that it’s not the thing that we love. Even though it only lasted one season, Aeon Flux has quite the cult following in the sci-fi community, and rightly so. For many, especially in my generation, Aeon Flux is that introduction to anime and more adult themed cartoons. It’s important to us. To have something come along and fundamentally change some aspects of that thing makes us hate it. It’s like someone hating the end of Watchmen because it wasn’t like the book. I get it. I partook in it in this case.
When the movie ended I found myself being able to divorce myself from the source material and found that I enjoyed Aeon Flux a lot more than I did before. It still has its problems but this is probably the easiest “Staying Positive” I’ve written yet. I walked away from this one not just appreciating it more, but actually kind of liking it.