Screenplay Review: Aeon Flux
I read Aeon Flux, by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, based on characters created by Peter Chung, back in January of '04. Interestingly, the draft I read was dated 2-20-01, already highlighting the long journey this property has had in coming to the big screen. This is underscored by the fact that even since I read the script, nearly two years have passed! I suspect that the script has changed somewhat, but based on the trailers, it doesn't seem that different.
First, my logline:
A rebel assassin walks a line between following orders and discovering the truth about the problems plaguing her semi-utopian society.Now, let me say that I read this script as a sample for a specific other project that my company had in development (which I have X'd out in my review below), so my comments were geared primarily towards that. So though I will give you those comments, I'd like to first throw out some comments about the script itself. It was somewhat formulaic, but overall a pretty solid sci-fi actioner. Certainly above average, I felt. At the same time, the advance buzz seems to be suggesting this film might not do so well. There really just doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement about it.
I think in large measure, this will have to be due to the long time it took arriving in theaters. Back in the day, Aeon Flux was definitely one of the more popular animated series on MTV's Liquid Television. But now, it has largely lost its core fanbase. Furthermore, the poor showing of The Island -- a film not really related to this, but still in the same genre -- might further hurt Aeon's box office, due to lowered expectations.
Still, Aeon looks great, and the story really draws more from Blade Runner than a film like The Island. That being said, here's what I wrote about it:
Hay and Manfredi have shown themselves capable of writing a somewhat taut and exciting Sci-Fi adventure. Though not extraordinary, this is certainly a decent sample of writing. They are certainly worthy of some consideration in general, but other samples may be warranted, particularly in relation to their promise for XXXX. That project will require a good amount of inventiveness, but since Aeon Flux is based on previously produced work, it is difficult to fully ascertain how much of the cleverness in this script is the product of Hay and Manfredi's creativity, and how much has been kept from the source material.I was a fan of the animated series, and the film looks pretty cool. So I'm rooting for this one to do well this upcoming weekend!
Aeon Flux is a good example of a clever Sci-Fi adventure that has enough inventiveness to separate it from many other similar stories. The relationship at its core (Aeon and Trevor) is a characterization that adds a unique drama. And the Sci-Fi gadgetry and back-story are not just contrivances; they more or less work organically with the story and don't distract from the plot. Still, much of this (if not all) may be found in Chung's original source, and therefore may not show a particular adeptness at invention in Hay and Manfredi as writers. To better determine this, one should look at the original source material and/or other samples from these authors.
Still, the authors have shown some of the skills necessary for XXXX. They have written an exciting adaptation, which will be one of the keys to XXXX. Furthermore, though a somewhat simplistic storyline, overall Aeon Flux still flows generally well. Furthermore, though the characters are generally older than the main characters of XXXX will probably be, Hay and Manfredi still show a recognition of the hipness that can sell a character to today's youth or teen market. In many ways, Aeon is reminiscent of Lara Croft, for example.
In the end, Aeon Flux proves a promising though inconclusive sample of Hay and Manfredi's work, both in general and specific to XXXX. Certainly, however, they warrant further consideration for this and/or other projects.
Tags: Aeon+Flux, Phil+Hay, Matt+Manfredi, Peter+Chung, script+coverage