Aeon Flux Blu-ray Review
PictureAeon Flux is presented with clear intentions to fill the 2.35:1 image with dazzling colour and rich detail. Primaries are certainly bold and in-yer-face, but the palette diffuses itself with copious greens and whites that produce a stark and occasionally haphazard picture. Prancing around those water-colour gardens seems to just plant spots and dashes of vibrancy around the image, although interiors can be bathed with some sublime lighting - burnished orange, golden, blue or red - and this comes over well, warmly enveloping the screen without becoming over-saturated or producing any banding. Even though there is a little bit of noise taking place within the deeper hues on offer, the image is bright and enticing, but I have to admit that I kept on being reminded of the visual aesthetic of the Cbeebies channel.
Blacks are spot-on, creating some really captivating use of shadow during some of the surreal interior scenes, and contrast is well-maintained throughout. There are plenty of moments when the high-resolution allows for tremendous depth of field, with many shots achieving a striking level of three-dimensionality - characters lunging from buildings, running across those damn gardens, or just standing mid-ground with a gorgeously colourful vista stretching out behind them. Edges are sharp and produce terrific delineation. Detail is very good, too. Costumes reveal their texture, faces exhibit pores, the grass has finite separation and background information is always clear and intricate. Some of the CG can be quite glaring with such a top-flight transfer - such as Aeon hanging on to those squid-like tendrils beneath Postlethwaite's dream-ship - but, overall, the picture has a fine and consistent high quality that stands up well to scrutiny.
The most eye-catching about the film and its image on disc is, naturally, Charlize Theron. And, whatever, my views on such a dismal sci-fi offering as this, whenever she is on-screen, I am in 1080p heaven. Aeon Flux was a great showcase for the visual upgrade that the hi-def formats offered over SD DVD and, whilst it remains a terrific image, there are much better examples out there now. Still, this gets a richly deserved 8 out of 10.
SoundWith both DD and DTS 5.1 tracks on offer, the old SD adage of “go for the DTS” applies here. An early release for both high-definition formats, there is no “lossless” option and, listening to such sublimely ear-entrancing fare on Blu-ray as PCM Uncompressed, the shortcomings of these less immersive tracks is clearly revealed. Although probably well received upon its initial release last year, Aeon Flux now sounds quite subdued and un-involving when compared to more recent soundmixes.
Dialogue is good and distinctive at all times, and Graeme Revell's score has reach around the set-up, but the aural wraparound, though thoroughly utilised, is not as acute, dynamic or as well steered as I had hoped. The action sequences have all the ingredients - directionality of gunfire, throaty, low-level explosions, discrete channelling of shrapnel, debris and various bodily impacts etc - but there simply isn't the aggression or involvement that lovers of the new formats can usually enjoy. Many portions of the film are actually very front-oriented and, although the spread before you is convincing and wide, it still sounds slightly enclosed and bordered, lacking the open quality of lossless audio. High ends are good and there is a reasonable degree of warmth to the mix, but I still feel that listener-immersion is not complete and that the film can seem passive and, indeed, pensive at times, as though awaiting some big enveloping effect to come along ... that won't quite come off with full satisfaction when it does.
The DTS is definitely better than the DD track, though, sounding livelier and a little bit more bombastic. But, overall, Aeon Flux's audio mixes are sheltered and rather undemanding. They provide everything you expect from a big-budget sci-fi actioner, but lack the vigour and the delicious aural threat that a lot of this genre regularly supplies. So, Aeon Flux drops the ball with its audio treatment.
ExtrasPorting over the same extras that graced its SD counterpart, Aeon Flux features two commentary tracks, a five-part making of documentary and its theatrical trailer (in high-definition).
The first chat teams up producer Gale Anne Hurd and star Charlize Theron, whilst the second features the screenwriting duo behind it all, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Both tracks are fast and gabby and contain enthusiastic participants who provide a wealth of production trivia and on-set tales. Both are also very scene-specific and provide the full intentions of exactly what they were all setting out to do. However, it is painfully clear that everybody thought that they were working on a classic of the genre and, consequently, have nothing but praise for the film and all those involved with its creation. Although entertaining enough for fans, these two tracks are a bit of a slog to get through. The screenwriters, in particular, see and feel things in this movie that, sadly, I did not and, as a result, I had to resist the urge to join in and inform them of their delusions.
All culled from what is, in effect, one 45 minute documentary, the series of five featurettes go behind-the-scenes into many facets of the production, but also layer on the notion that Aeon Flux is some sort of groundbreaker for the genre. Covering the overall concept in Creating A World, the budgetary-bliss of shooting in Berlin in The Locations, the wacky and way-out fashions of the future in The Costume Design Workshop and the eyebrow-raising fights and action sequences in The Stunts, this is pretty much standard blockbuster treatment, not too in-depth, but flashy and eager-to-please. We could, perhaps, have done without the tedious Craft Of The Set Photographer, though. Still, this set is all very nice and acceptable, if a tad technical, at times.
VerdictA dreadfully dull film, Aeon Flux is a big budget letdown. Overblown, self-righteous and criminally lacking in anything resembling fun. Theron looks marvellous, but that's a given. Her adherence to contemporary uber-minx action-heroine schtick is inevitable, but still rankles considering the amount of depth we know she can deliver. She is much better than this turgid tosh. So, it is sci-fi by-the-numbers and both risible and forgettable. Fans of the future-shock genre may find it to their liking, but, really, you've seen this type of thing before and probably done much better
Eye-candy and nothing more, the movie is still well-served by a fine high-definition transfer and a great sound design. The extras make some effort, too, but only serve to compound the disappointing end result by being hopelessly optimistic that the production was going to be a classic. For the Equilibrium market, and fans of Theron only.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.59
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