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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Lee Tamahori
Cast:
Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, José Zúñiga, Jim Beaver, Jason Butler Harner, Michael Trucco
Writing Credits:
Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensleigh, Paul Bernbaum, Philip K. Dick (novel story, "The Golden Man")

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

Synopsis:
Las Vegas showroom magician Cris Johnson has a secret: he can see two minutes into the future. Sick of the government and scientific interest in his gift, he lies low in Vegas, performing cheap tricks and living off small-time gambling "winnings." But when a terrorist group threatens to detonate a nuclear device in Los Angeles, government agent Callie Ferris must use all her wiles to capture Cris and convince him to help her stop the cataclysm.

Box Office:
Budget
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$7.133 million on 2725 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.993 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/25/2007

Bonus:
• “Making the Best Next Thing” Featurette
• “The Next ‘Grand Idea’” Featurette
• “Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel” Featurette
• “Visualizing the Next Move” Featurette
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Next (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 17, 2007)

How did 2007’s Next slip under the radar? With stars like Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel as well as a reasonably noteworthy director like Lee Tamahori, it seems like something that should’ve created some form of a splash.

It didn’t. Next opened on more than 2700 screens but took in a weak $17 million at the box office – or less than 25 percent of its budget. I actually maintain no memory of its theatrical release – before I looked up the flick on IMDB, I thought this was a direct-to-video release!

Well, that $17 million beat out the earnings of many other films I’d heard of, so at least Next wasn’t the year’s biggest bomb. I was curious to see the flick and decide if it deserved a better fate.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s The Golden Man, Cage plays Cris “Frank Cadillac” Johnson, a cheap Vegas magician. Though he runs a cheesy act, it turns out he possesses actual mental abilities. Cris can see two minutes into the future - his future, at least.

Cris attracts the attention of federal agent Callie Ferris (Moore). Someone smuggled a nuclear weapon into the US, so she wants him to find out where it will materialize. Cris doesn’t desire to do his civic duty, though, because he’s obsessed with an image of a girl named Liz (Biel). For some reason, his vision of her transcends the normal rules about his abilities; he sees farther into the future than two minutes and feels he must meet her. The movie shows what happens when they finally connect as well as Callie’s pursuit of Cris and the whereabouts of the deadly device she seeks.

Many films require a suspension of disbelief, and that really comes to the forefront for a supernatural tale such as Next. Like most flicks that deal with the manipulation of time, they create more questions than they answer. That happens often during Next, so it’s probably best to shut off that part of your brain. If you hope to get any enjoyment from it, you need to forget logic, as the elements won’t hold up to scrutiny.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Next merits the effort required to ignore its questionable elements. While the movie boasts an interesting premise, it doesn’t explore it well enough to succeed. The film’s best moments come early, as we see Cris use his gift to perform his stage act and escape security after he bilks a casino. Those scenes don’t dazzle, but they offer the right mix of coolness and fun.

Once Biel actively enters the picture, though, it goes downhill. I hate to say that since Biel’s a world-class babe, and the shot of her clad only in a towel nearly makes the whole flick worthwhile. However, as soon as Liz becomes a part of the story, the film sinks. We get too much about her relationship with Cris, and the supernatural side and the terrorist plot feel secondary. There’s nowhere near enough heat between Liz and Cris to make them the focus of the picture, so little excitement or pleasure results.

In an odd decision, the movie’s baddies are virtually nameless and faceless. I can’t recall another flick of this sort that does so little with its villains. They exist to motivate the plot, but who they are, what they want, etc. never becomes relevant or apparent. They’re there because they’re supposed to be there; no greater rationale occurs.

Maybe if Next provided some good action, I’d be able to forgive its lackluster pursuit of story and character. However, the various scenes rarely pump the old adrenaline. Oh, a couple of them create minor excitement, but the climax seems stale, and not much about the flick rises above the level of ho-hum.

Even worse, Next sabotages itself with one of the crummiest endings I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps the filmmakers used it to mess with our heads, or maybe they figured it boasted some form of Deeper Meaning. All I know is that when the flick finished, the name “Bobby Ewing” came to mind, and that’s not a connection any film should aspire to make.

Next definitely had potential, and it does occasionally evoke some excitement. Unfortunately, those good scenes appear too infrequently to sustain the viewer, especially since the movie’s best moments occur during its first act. After that, expect a slow ride into incoherence.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Next appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A mix of ups and downs came from this inconsistent transfer.

Most of the issues related to sharpness. Though most of the film appeared concise and accurate, more than a few examples of softness interfered. These popped up sporadically but occurred with more frequency than I’d like. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, but I noticed a little edge enhancement. At least no source flaws marred the presentation, as the movie lacked any specks, marks or other issues.

Just like every other flick that tries to be “modern”, Next featured a highly stylized palette. Most of the time the movie went with a golden tone. Within the confines of the visual design, the colors looked solid, as I noticed no bleeding, noise or other concerns. Blacks seemed dynamic and rich, but low-light shots tended to be a little opaque. All of this resulted in a “B-“ image.

Though the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Next didn’t dazzle, it seemed sufficient for the story. As one might expect, the action scenes fared the best. These used all five channels to good advantage and created a fine sense of place and involvement. Weapons, vehicles and other elements zipped about us to form the environment.

Quieter scenes had their moments as well, but they were less dynamic. Still, they opened up the spectrum in a convincing manner. Stereo music seemed solid, and the various elements came from logical places. The whole thing integrated nicely.

As for sound quality, no issues emerged. Speech was concise and crisp, with no edginess or other problems. Music sounded lively and bright, while effects showed good reproduction. Those elements appeared dynamic and full. Though I didn’t think this track was quite impressive enough to enter “A” level, it was quite good.

When we shift to the extras, we find four featurettes. Making the Best Next Thing runs 18 minutes, 16 seconds as it mixes movie clips, behind the scenes elements and interviews. We hear from writer Gary Goldman, executive producer Jason Koornick, producers Arne Schmidt, Norman Golightly and Todd Garner, and actors Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel and Tory Kittles. “Thing” looks at the script and the adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story, cast, characters, and performances, stunts and action, and the work of director Lee Tamahori.

Don’t expect much from this fluffy featurette. Oh, it rises above the level of promotional program; that’s the sort of show that usually just reiterates the plot and acts as a glorified trailer. “Thing” offers more substance than that, but there’s still a lot of praise doled out and not a ton of worthwhile content. I like the parts about the adaptation and some of the stunts, but overall, this one seems pretty superficial.

Next comes Visualizing the Next Move. This seven-minute and 47-second piece includes comments from visual effects supervisor John Sullivan, Digital Dreams lead compositor Marco Recuay, Digiscope visual effects supervisor Dion Hatch, and Digital Dreams digital artist Nicholas Lund-Ulrich. As implied by the title, “Move” looks at the flick’s visual effects. It offers a brisk and fairly tight view of these issues and proves acceptably informative.

The Next “Grand Idea” fills six minutes, 54 seconds with comments from Schmidt, Cage, and Golightly. “Idea” looks at shooting in the Grand Canyon and the development of the Cris/Liz love story. The parts about the location are interesting, as they offer good notes about the challenges involved and Cage’s personal connection to the area. There’s not a lot to this piece, though.

Finally, Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel lasts two minutes and 28 seconds. The actor discusses whether or not she’d like to be able to see into her future. She says nothing particularly interesting, but she looks hot, so that should count for something.

The DVD opens with some ads. We find promos for The Transformers and A Mighty Heart. These also appear in the Previews area with a clip for Blades of Glory. No trailer for Next shows up here.

Next made nary a dent in the movie marketplace when it hit screens last spring, and I can’t claim that it deserved a better fate. Though it occasionally creates some interesting moments, too few of these pop up to make the flick a winner. It lacks enough substance, excitement and/or coherence to succeed. The DVD offers erratic but generally good picture, positive audio and a mix of minor extras. This is a passable release for a forgettable film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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