Case Number 12154

NEXT (HD DVD)

Paramount // 2007 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 4th, 2007

The Charge

If you can see the future, you can save it.

Opening Statement

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider) and his horrible coiffure try to save the world using his power to see two minutes into the future. You know what would have been helpful? If I could have seen 96 minutes into the future before I pressed play to rid myself of silly things like expectations for a decent scifi actioner.

Facts of the Case

When you're blessed with a pre-cog power, an incredible gift that allows you to foresee the future, what would you do with it? Save people's lives? Rescue cats before they get run over in the street? For Chris Johnson (Cage), the answer is easy: get a job as a low-level magician in Vegas and cheat at Blackjack.

When a nuke goes missing and the FBI believes that it's about to be lit off imminently, Chris becomes key to the strategy to track the bomb down, Hard-ass FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore, Children of Men) believes that he's got the mojo to save the world. Unfortunately, the terrorists think the same thing.

With the girl of his dreams by his side (Jessica Biel), Chris embarks on a dangerous mission to find the nuke, using his mental prowess and acerbic remarks.

The Evidence

Oh Next, how you blow. Let me count the ways...

1. A Confusing Premise

So, Chris sees two minutes in the future, huh? Sounds cool, but despite the effort Director Lee Tamahori went through to make me understand, I still don't understand how his power works. Apparently, the future-sight is engaged when you "enter his consciousness" whatever that means. So he sees two minutes in the future all the time? Is it a one-time flash that happens all the time? Is there a cumulative total of two-minutes-in-the-futures? If you're going to surprise him and wait two minutes after he leaves, won't he still foresee the surprise when you spring it on him? Seriously, someone needs to get Doc Brown and his chalkboard down here immediately so he can explain this @#$% to me.

2. Yeah, Who Are These Terrorists Again?

Beats me. We get a few snippets of the bad guys, hunkering down in their bunker, led by the Nazi U-boat captain from U-571 but zero exposition about who they are or what they want. I'm not even sure where they're from. I think the head guy is Russian, there's a French dude and I may have spotted a keffiyeh in the mix, but there's no apparent religious or ideological thread tying this ramshackle squad of ne'er-do-wells together. My best guess? They're a rogue detachment from the U.N. hospitality department.

3. Julianne Moore's Character Makes Me Want to Blow the Nuke Up Just to Spite Her Passive-Aggressive @$$

Goodness gracious FBI Special Agent Callie Ferris stinks to high heaven. Hey, I respect Moore as an actress and all, but this character, script misfire or not, is a car wreck. Moore spend the entire movie barking orders in her mean voice, emasculating any dude that happens to cross her path (I love how she grabs a sniper rifle out of a guy's hands as if the poor sap has never fired it before in his life), and generally being unpleasant. Maybe she's going for female empowerment and that's cool and all, but if we really want gender equality in our Hollywood power roles, I'd be remiss to say that even if her character had been played by The Rock it still would have sucked.

4. It's a Snoozer

For a disc that proclaims "non-stop" action, Next is light in that department. There are three set-ups, and only one is really entertaining. The first set piece, where Chris uses his power to evade casino security is actually kind of fun, but when the next big sequence kicks in, where Chris and some hapless FBI agents outrun an avalanche of CGI-rendered debris, things start to go, er, downhill. There's major, bullet-soaked finale, but it's an unsatisfying shooting gallery, with faceless, nameless, agenda-free bad guys getting mowed down, Juliann Moore being a grumpy-gus and Nic Cage busting out some wild Matrix moves. If you're hoping for some sweet mayhem, I daresay your hopes will go unfulfilled.

5. That Hair

The Comatose-Central-Rock-Rat-Superglued-to-the-Skull look? Yeah, it's not working.

The movie failed to groove me, but the high-def presentation works. I tend to enjoy Paramount's HD transfers, and the 2.35:1, 1080p presentation largely continues the trend. A few time, the colors seemed soft, but overall, the picture quality was excellent. The downside of the higher resolution is the betrayal of the extensive CGI, which was very, very obvious. Two fine audio mixes give vigor to the soundscape, Dolby TrueHD and Digital Plus 5.1. Whatever shortcomings the movie has, the audio quality is robust enough to make you say "Well, that sucked, but at least it was loud!"

Extras are disappointing. The selection of featurettes (all in HD) include: "Making the Next Big Thing," behind-the-scenes; "The Next Grand Idea" location feature on the Grand Canyon shoot; "Visualizing the next Move" CGI segment; and, finally, "Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel," where the actress describes the pros and cons of seeing one's own destiny -- yes it is as excruciating as it sounds.

Closing Statement

Annoying, convoluted and slow, Next is not-xt. That doesn't make any sense.

The Verdict

Guilty. Next!

Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 95
Extras: 75
Acting: 60
Story: 65
Judgment: 62

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital Plus 2.0 Stereo (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Behind-the-Scenes
* Location Featurette
* Visual Effects Featurette
* Jessica Biel Interview
* Trailer

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0435705/combined