Aeon Flux Karyn Kusama

I never saw a single episode of the legendary ’90s MTV animated series Aeon Flux, but I have trouble believing it could possibly be as farcical as this sorry live-action incarnation. I don’t know what genius decided that the person to direct a visually-driven futuristic action romp would be the "meat and potatoes” director of Girlfight, but the results are predictably disastrous. The "after the apocalypse” dystopia looks like some kind of kabuki health spa, the agents of freedom (chiefly conflicted rebel Charlize Theron) leap about in spandex bondage suits and everyone speaks dialogue that sounds like stereo instructions ("How were your modifications?” "Useful”). The film is clearly gunning for some kind of alien poetry and its walled city dictated by medical messiahs with feet of clay inevitably invokes America under Bush II. But any archetypal resonance goes sailing out the window once you see director Karyn Kusama’s maladroit handling of the pictures and words. She’s not a director with a vision and leans on the designers to do all of the work, and they let her down completely with a ludicrous yoga studio look that makes your eyes burn and your head pound. The actors (including Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okonedo and Pete Postlethwaite) are completely defeated by the total disconnect from anything human, and the minor stabs at relevance go down in flames of shallowness and confusion. There are addled children who will find this brilliant when they stumble upon it on cable, but anyone over the age of 12 should think twice before paying good money to rent it, much less buy it. Extras include a shallow commentary with Theron and producer Gale Anne Hurd, a more on-issue commentary with writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and five excellent featurettes on the production and its design/stunt elements. (Paramount)