Review – Aeon Flux

charlize-theron-aeon-flux(repost from last year, because I’m too busy watching my Cdramas to actually review them….)

So Aeon Flux is a 2005 movie based loosely on an animated TV short series, blah blah blah, starring 6-foot-plus Charlize Theron as the titular Strong Female Character, and directed by a woman. If you wanted to be nasty, you could probably compare it to Wonder Woman, which also starred a beautiful woman, was about a powerful woman, and was directed by a woman, but was actually really good and made a lot of money.

This movie is not good.

It’s terrible.

It’s terrible in a stylish, hallucinatory, breaking-the-laws-of-physics fashion that undercuts the cool stuff that really is there and leaves you wondering if those brownies were spiked. Did she just dig that bullet out of him with her fingernails? How does doing a backflip make you immune to gunfire? Why is the Bregnan surveillance apparatus a pool of water that can be disarmed with one swirly grenade? Why is the approach to the Supreme Leader’s private residence a garden guarded only by razor-edged fake grass and one tree with attack fruits that spit hypodermic darts? How come the Supreme Leader’s most effective security agents is not any of his highly trained, armored, heavily armed guards, armed with guns, but his secretary, armed with a club? Why was the violent, known-wolf assassin not searched after being taken into custody? And what the hell is up with the blimp? No, seriously. Really, what is the blimp for? Why is it just floating around? What are the streamer tails on it for? How come, if you were using water-based information storage (?) before, the blimp instead uses solid-state holograms? What the hell is it with the old guy? Is he a hologram all the time? Why does he appear to be wearing a space suit shaped like a cocoon and why is he apparently naked under it? And why does the blimp have the streamer tails on it? Are those the only way to get on board? Are they the standard way to get on board? Why do you even have those?

Now, cool stuff there is: there’s imaginative biotechnology: human modifications and gadgets that make a lot of sense–implants and chemical (aha) messengers. But then there’s the requisite Hollywood stupidity that comes with it. That’s not how virtual reality works. Not even a little. Please. That’s not how cloning works. Not even a little. That’s not how memories and the brain work. Not even a little. Why be stupid? Because you are a stupid and lazy writer who can’t be bothered to use your brain or respect your audience’s intelligence enough to try.

The other good thing is that the movie itself is filmed in a bright, clean, stylish fashion–

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Oodles of stylization

–showcasing plenty of set and costume design. When in doubt: high collars and high cheekbones are always going to go over well. And parasols are always nice.

The third good thing is that the casting is good, even if the acting isn’t.

Absolutely everyone is required at all times to maintain a harsh poker face and speak in a level monotone, preferably a whisper. Only some of the actors can actually, you know, act under these circumstances; but as far as depicting a far future society filled with genetically modified, carefully selected human beings in perfect health and nutrition … this, it certainly does. Sophie Okonedo in particular impresses as someone who actually makes the most of her stone-faced screentime. (see above, re: cheekbones.) Marton Csokas …. well, in addition to the high collars, also has a great jawline.

But here’s the worst thing….once this movie has set everything up, weird, hallucinatory, illogical, and stylish as it is…it stops, backtracks, and then tries to explain. Don’t do that. You shouldn’t have done that. You’re too dumb to make it make actual sense, and all you did was ruin what weird, stylish charm you did have. And without that, we’re back to WTH-ing at some of the dumbest wetware technology, moronic security systems, ineffective mooks, incoherent terrorist organizations, and most illogical dictatorships ever.

(WHY DOES THE DAMN BLIMP EVEN EXIST? WHY? WHY?! WHYYY?)

Rated: it was watch Aeon Flux or do something productive….

The Romance of Hua Rong – Ep 18

So: with a damsel to rescue and a pile of ninjas about to descend on them, the heroes split up. Mr. Jin and his men are to go down the tunnel and rescue Wanwan, while the Bros cover their escape and SC & HR chase Sneaky Guy. They must be very careful, because he’s extremely competent and good at his job. So they split up.

Wanwan is chained up in a dungeon….with a ton of black powder on the floor/around. Hitting the chain throws off sparks…but Mr. Jin is intent on saving her and whales on the chain like he means it. Fortunately, it breaks before the fire gets too dangerous, and by the time they get outside the Bros have taken care of the ninjas. And Mr. Jin gets to what technically counts as first base when he shields Wanwan from the explosion.

Back at the Chase for Sneaky: HR and SC has split up and are, well, sneaking around the woods. Sneaky only has three arrows; and after he looses one at them, he’s down to the last. SC decides he’s going to play bait and let HR take him out…..with a knife in her slingshot. SHE DOES IT! SC tries to deflect the arrow with his sword, but it splinters and one sliver goes directly home. He collapses!

Hua Rong goes immediately to pieces….Ah, hah, I thought so. It’s just his revenge for her faking him out earlier. He is wearing body armor and fine. And then the rest of them arrive. Oh, Sneaky isn’t actually dead? They’ve caught him, but he is killed by a mysterious dart before he talks. Not that he probably would have, you know. The Bros are detailed to investigate who Sneaky was.
Mr. Jin checks out the dart, however…and doesn’t look happy. We get direct confirmation of this in the next scene, as a henchman reports to the Prince. The Prince decides that he’s ready to directly reveal that the white jade is at Mengdi Villa. OK, this Prince is Mr. Jin’s older brother, right?

Anyhow, Wanwan is back at home and her father is pouring drinks. And everyone is advancing the idea that it was the handsome Mr. Jin who did saved the girl! Mr. Jin is pretty awesome! They should have a date night! Anyhow, the girls have a little back and forth about who likes who and ought to wear the pretty pink dress. HR promises to help her Lil’ Sis look great! And meanwhile, Shang Cheng is playing Go (?) with Mr. Jin and advancing the idea that Wanwan and her father are pretty OK with the idea of there being a Mrs. Jin. Mr. Jin denies all this–he’s barely known Miss Wanwan for a month! And please don’t embarass her when she comes down by saying all these th—

Wanwan gets one of those Stunning Staircase Reveals in slow-mo (minus the face tattoos she’s had for a while), and Mr. Jin is stricken. (LOL, HR and SC grinning smugly at him.) So on date night, HR and SC slip off to give the kids some alone time. SC points out that alone time is alone time for them too, rrrrriiiiiiight? (Settle down, boy.) But between the two of them, Wanwan and Jin seem to be hitting it off quite well.

With our main couple, things are also going so well that HR is getting nervous–this can’t possibly keep going on, can it? But, as terrible things happening to happy people, having the Bros come crashing in isn’t actually the worst ever. Y’know. Considering.

Shaggy has found out about the Three Arrows Sneaky Guy.–he’s from Mengdie Villa. Also: the word is out that the white jade is at Mengdie Villa. Well, obviously there’s a connection, but is there also a trap? HR suspects so; but they still need to go investigate. Right away! (Or, at least, after breakfast.)

Mr. Jin and Wanwan extend their goodbyes (and some final insults…and a handshake. Good boys!)

Heh, HR goes off and buys all the Yun He dolls. A girl shows up who wants a doll. HR gives her one and is invited to go watch a theatre performance of Hero Yun He and his partner. So off she goes. There are two girls there, and they start swooning at the thought that their new friend has actually met Hero Yun He! SC, meanwhile, is waiting impatiently for her to show up again. HR is trying to leave, but the girls tell her that Tang Chudie is going to show up–the first woman kung fu master in the district, and Hero Yun He’s Partner! HR sits back down, and SC arrives to find her pouting over the existence of a Tang Chudie the heroine…OH MY GOSH HE PUT THE STUPID MASK ON AND WENT ON STAGE TO DECLARE HIS LOVE FOR HUA RONG. How cheesy can a man get? Sheesh. What’s more, it works. Waaugh, cheesy. Get back to the plot, already.

So. They reach the foot of the mountain where Mengdie Mansion is. They still need to find it….There are a lot of adventurers there, including Eyepatch Guy from the marriage contest. He tries to insert himself into the situation, despite SC’s pointed rudeness and lack of interest. But he does have information!–Mengdie Mansion is owned by Tang Chudie! And surely a handsome guy like Mr. SC can finagle what’s needed out of Miss Tang Chudie?

At this point, another young guy intervenes. His name is Mr. Ye. He supports Eyepatch’s idea of them joining forces: several other adventuring parties have gone up the mountain already and not come back down. And possibly also seducing TC….?

Blue Bro thinks that telling HR about TC will just upset her; SC says that he has no idea why this would be the case, while Shaggy, with uncharacteristic intelligence, points out that being honest and aboveboard is going to work in their favor. Blue Bro seems to win the point, though.
So the expanded party heads off in the morning. They follow a map, and it’s the only way up the hill, but the mist is dense and Eyepatch Guy boldly sets off in the lead….

Rated: the cheese is delicious but also gooey and we need to have another fight scene soon. Like, an actual one that isn’t off-screen.