Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Series DVD Review
PicturePicture overall is simply jaw dropping. Inside the tri-DVD collection is a note from Peter Chung himself explaining how the video was restored and he explains exactly where any enhancements took place. The results are phenomenal. Each episode consists of old school drawn animation and looks stunning on progressive scan HDTV. The only critique that can be levied against the collection is that the early episodes weren't given quite the attention of the talkies that came later. In the Liquid Television episodes there is some visible fading and general inconsistencies. One scene will look slightly faded but cut to the very next scene and it looks perfect again. The '95 talkie episodes look as crisp and bright as though they'd been produced only yesterday with much more consistency. Overall Chung makes good on his promise and knowing that the artist himself oversaw the restoration is encouraging.
The featurettes don't look as good and clips from the episodes that appear in the featurettes don't look nearly as good as they do in the actual episodes on disc. A display that specializes in deep blacks would truly benefit from Aeon Flux who wears black that is contrasted by her abundance of visible skin. The contrast looks great on my LCD display which is known for not being the best choice where blacker than black is concerned. Most of the animation takes place in brightly light environments and makes use of strong colors. Because of Peter Chung's unique style you'll get a lot of quick moving images darting about the screen, it looked free of pixilation or macroblocking. They did a fine job of bringing the source material to DVD and the enhancements are noticeable but fit in well to make the Aeon Flux collection stand up to any of today's anime.
SoundEach episode of Aeon Flux was re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 (or the original stereo soundtrack if you prefer) the special features are all in stereo. It's possible some may feel the supplemental Liquid Television episodes should have also included the 5.1 since they put the show into proper context. But the general issue Liquid Television episodes wouldn't have benefited much from 5.1, although they're fun to watch especially if you're nostalgic for the show. Even the early episodes of Aeon Flux that appeared in Liquid Television don't make a lot of use of the surrounds or subwoofer. The original episodes that appear on disc three (this probably should have been disc one) are the ones where nobody talks. The early episodes sound great until you pop in the talkies found on discs one and two then you suddenly get an explosion of sounds all around you with the sub being referenced a little more diligently. The sound is overall great, the job of re-mastering to Dolby Digital was accomplished without adding much to the viewing experience, you won't get a lot of aggressive use of the extra channels in the 5.1 soundtrack. Possibly the biggest benefit to the re-mastering efforts is clean sound, there are no audible pops or evidence these were stored on tapes. The tracks all sound crisp as if they were taped last year and not last decade.
ExtrasIf you're a fan of Aeon Flux you'll relive some of the great moments of the early to mid 90s for the first time on DVD and if you're someone who only recently heard about the series you'll be up to speed with the whole story.
The menu system is clever, using Chung art in full motion with sounds and that creepy music as Aeon makes her way through corridors to fulfill your selection. Disc three is where you'll find all the special features, but two of what are listed as special features are actually the meat of the content. These include all the early Aeon Flux episodes that appeared on Liquid Television. Aeon Flux Pilot gives us her lethal first appearance. The Aeon Flux Shorts are the rest of the episodes from which you can cherry pick from the menus system. For you director's commentary fans every Aeon Flux episode in this collection features a commentary by the Peter Chung himself including writer of the feature if applicable.
Investigation: The History of Aeon Flux. Is a thorough and thoroughly interesting documentary on the creation and behind the scenes of Aeon Flux. Writers, creators (including Peter Chung himself) get to talk at length about the working on the feature for MTV. Normally this has the potential to be very dry material that has you itching for the fast-forward button on your remote. But here you can tell the guys and girls involved are having fun recounting their stories, one writer even breaks into a song. The in jokes are apparent, if you watch with the attitude that MTV was a necessary evil to get your artistry to as wide an audience as possible you'll laugh at some of the stories. This isn't a review of MTV of course, but it's basically a never ending infomercial for a very dumb version of youth culture, kids who don't read much probably watch MTV. That they got away with making something as intelligent, sophisticated and artistically challenging as Aeon Flux and then brought it back years later was a remarkable sales job on behalf of its producers. At one point they even joke about some of the questionable sexual innuendo or explicit situations thinly disguised beneath Chung's dreamlike artistry. It slipped past the MTV execs who gave approval because they simply didn't get it.
The Deviant Devices of Aeon Flux. A closer look at the hardware used by Aeon Flux. This is one of those special features that reminds you how cool the DVD platform really is. Narrated by Aeon Flux herself she takes you through all of her weapons and support hardware with a bit of humor mixed in as she references some of the classic Aeon Flux stories.
Liquid Television Shorts: A series of the original shorts that comprised the Liquid Television. These are entertaining and a great special feature for the disc. That they appear on Aeon's DVD instead of Aeon on one of theirs is living proof Peter Chung was far ahead of his contemporaries. But that's not to say they're not good, some are actually annoying like the girls that go to the beach. But the early computer animated lips that serve as bumpers in between episodes and some of the few second only clips you get between longer features gives you a feel for the Liquid Television experience. It was a fast paced blend of early 90s cultural references.
Other Works By Peter Chung: Just three ads. Actually one of them is a French Honda TV commercial featuring a black Honda drawn by Chung, it's easily the best watch in this feature. MTV loaded is an ad for another Peter Chung animated feature that looks and sounds great for about fifteen seconds. The Aeon Flux CD-Rom commercial is as bewildering as the MTV Loaded Promo, no details, just a short clip of some Aeon Flux action drawn with slightly more detailing than the talkies, which is to say it looks like you wish all the episodes looked.
VerdictIt's difficult to criticize this collection on any level. It's simply a perfect collection if you want the eye and ear candy that will bring out the best in your home theater system. It's moderately priced for the amount of pure entertainment it will return. The only shortcomings I could find is in the video quality of the original shorts could have been brightened up. The sound in the features could have used the surrounds and sub a little more aggressively especially in the original shorts. Usually exuberant use of subs and surround channels is distracting but in this case we can make an exception because it would fit the material.
With special features that include interviews with Chung, writers, producers and even the actress who gives the voice to Aeon Flux it's got as deep a look behind the scenes as you would possibly want. The clean white package with Chungs signature and signature Aeon Flux image on the cover is pleasant to look at as it sits on my desk all day long, I want a poster of it. I am seldom thrilled with menu systems and animated navigation, but I enjoy this one almost as much as I liked the Sin City menu animation. This set even goes beyond the call of duty by providing us with a strong dose of Liquid Television to set the backdrop for Aeon Flux's origin. If I had a wish list for this release the only thing I could possibly ask for is a DTS soundtrack and a date with Charlize Theron. But hey, I understand there are limits.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.77
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