HTF Review: Next

JustinCleveland

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Next

Director: Lee Tamahori
Language: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 96 minutes

DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
Review Date: October 15, 2007

Based on the Philip K. Dick short story “The Golden Man,” “Next” is the story of a mentalist who can see the future… but only the next two minutes. Recruited to use his power to help stop a looming terrorist threat, Frank Cadillac (Nicholas Cage) becomes an agent and unwitting pawn of a government that uses him for ends even a man who can see the future cannot understand. Populated by a decent cast and asking some interesting questions, “Next” missteps in its adherence to generic constraints. Routine in every sense of the word, from a single-minded FBI agent (Julianne Moore), a tortured protagonist (Cage), and a star crossed love interest (Jessica Biel), the film has novel ideas and a few exciting moments but is ultimately unsatisfying.

One of the primary problems with film is the way in which star Nicholas Cage sleepwalks through the film. Frank never feels truly developed as more than a one-note cliché, a man who can see the future. While his use of his gift for fiscal gain is logical, the reason for his magic act is less obvious, and seemingly included only because it was a premise in the original story from which the movie is derived. Similarly explanation is never given for who exactly the terrorists are or what their motives are for tracking the man who can see the future. Devolved to the same level of cliché as the federal agents who track them, the terrorists are a convenient plot device instead of a developed antagonist.

This seems to be the problematic trend in the film: There are good ideas but nothing is fully developed, leaving the movie to rely on a premise that itself lacks definition. Mediocre, underdeveloped performances give the audience nothing to empathize; we’re left feeling cold toward the protagonist and no empathy toward his plight. Even Jessica Biel, who I think is the shining star in this otherwise muddy mess, has a character who acts without logic, turning quickly from a cautious and sensible woman to one who falls madly in love with Frank. I’ll grant that Frank is able to manipulate events to a favorable outcome, but the moral implications of his actions are never contemplated, resulting in a slanted, uneven picture.

“Next” takes a great idea and squanders its potential. A decent, mindless action movie with designs toward being thought-provoking, “Next” is a good choice when it’s on free TV during a snow storm. And you can only get one channel.

But honestly, you’d be better off picking up a book.

Video:
The transfer looks, unsurprisingly, brilliant. Anamorphically enhanced and based off a band-spanking new print, the colors and details in this set are fantastic. Dark scenes have no haloing, grain is not a problem, and there aren’t any major blemishes. You will have plenty of time to admire the video while you’re waiting for the story to make sense.

Audio:
Like the video, the audio here is nothing to sneeze at. Encompassing, rich, and vibrant, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is everything you could hope. During the aforementioned brainless and implausible action sequences you will feel action coming from every monitor, the bass rumbling nicely. Dialogue is painfully clear, too.

Extras:
The documentary “The Next Best Thing” is a featurette that delves into the making of the film, including the ideas behind the themes. Touching on every element of production, from stunts to casting, this piece reads as a promotion for the film less than a dissection of its parts to see what makes it tick. It’s not a bad piece, just not terribly substantial.

A feature on the visual effects, “Visualizing The Next Move” takes the time to break down the way in which special effects were utilized in the film. It is made clear the director wasn’t terribly concerned with the effects, and the result is a rushed, incomplete feel. What is there looks good, sure, but not as polished as it could have been.

“The Next Grand Idea” talks about how the romantic element of the script developed around a remote Native American reservation, showing us a little of the people and the production that took over their homes. “Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel” allows the star to think about her own future. Two Minutes in Heaven would be more fun, but this brief chat will have to suffice.

Overall:
Hollywood strikes out again. It seems that nearly every film taken from Philip K. Dick’s source material falters in translation to the big screen. An all-star cast and some large action set pieces cannot save this illogical, dumb, and downright silly production.
 

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