Attempt to break formula winds up Hollywood-ized

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Attempt to break formula winds up Hollywood-ized

“X-Men,” “Spiderman,” “Fantastic Four,” and now “Superman Returns.” In recent years, movie theaters have been awash with adaptations of comic book superheroes. The recently released “Aeon Flux,” by contrast, was based on a cartoon created and directed by Peter Chung, a 45-year-old Korean-American.
Set in 2415, “Aeon Flux” tells the story of a resistance fighter, played in the movie by Charlize Theron, battling an authoritarian government. The original cartoon’s sleek and often grotesque imagery propelled it to instant success when it was first aired on MTV’s “Liquid Television” in 1990. Yet Mr. Chung was less than enthralled at the version of his creation that hit the big screen.
In a recent e-mail interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Mr. Chung said he was not involved in the film’s production or casting. “The producer wanted the film to have as much popular appeal as possible,” he said.
On Charlize Theron, Mr. Chung said, “She had great looks and sleek movement, but her action could not go beyond that of a typical action hero. She played a good fighter, but she could not express the guilt of an action hero living a violent life.”
“My original intention for making an animation series was to break with Hollywood habits and formula,” said Mr. Chung. “I was tired of watching an apostle of justice fighting a band of evil men and defeating them. Thus, in my animation, the distinction between good and evil, reality and fantasy and the main and supporting actors is obscure. That’s like reality, too.”
Mr. Chung said films are a more difficult means of expressing thoughts and emotion than writing, as films have not gone beyond standard visual and material depictions. He said he pays most attention to bringing out the inner dimension of a main character. “I was most influenced by Egon Schiele,” he said. “His illustration of human forms through graphics was simple but very powerful. The main characters had supernatural powers, but they were actually a metaphor for humans whose abilities will be expanded through technology in the future.”
Though the feature film was peppered with animated images, Mr. Chung complains that some of them were ill-conceived.
For instance, the original cartoon opens with a shot of a fly, seemingly trapped behind steel bars. As the camera pans out, the “bars” turn out to be Aeon’s eyelashes. The movie, however, shows Aeon catching the fly with her eyelashes.
Though the movie may have stalled at the box office, Mr. Chung is busy working on another feature-length animated version of “Aeon Flux.” He said his most urgent task, however, is to raise money.


by Jung Hyung-mo

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