“Here’s the thing about the future. If you look at it it changes, and every time you look at it it changes again…”
If Nicolas Cage had Chris Johnson’s ability to see into the future, he might have avoided his latest film, Next. At the very least he might have been tempted to monkey with it in order to get a better box office take than it ultimately received. The film was in and out of theatres faster than I could blink, let alone catch it. If Cage had foreseen the film’s demise, it would have been unfortunate for us who got to see this film on DVD for the first time. The fate of the film is a bit of a mystery. The sci-fi trade and fan magazines were all over this one in pre-release hype. One explanation can be found in the way the film depicts the flash forward moments. While I am aware it is intentional and I understand the purpose, it was often too difficult to get your bearings. An audience doesn’t like to feel stupid. We don’t mind being surprised, but we want to be able to figure it all out so that we can feel smarter. Films rarely succeed when they leave the viewer feeling like an idiot. A subtle hint as to “when we were” might have gone a long way in making this easier on the audience. I think I have more patience than most in this regard, but even I felt cheated sometimes by the presentation of the various timelines.
Based on a Philip K. Dick story, The Golden Man, Next is not groundbreaking science fiction by any stretch. It is, however, a rather engrossing ride that manages to entertain along the way. Like most of Cage’s sci-fi outings, his character pretty much carries the effort. His portrayal here is full of the same subtle quirks and style that Cage has become known for. He eases into the part with enough believability that the fantastic elements don’t really stand out at all. I’ve always said that if your character is real enough you can then get an audience to believe in almost anything that happens around him. Next is a great example of that idea. Jennifer Biel isn’t quite as convincing. I couldn’t help but feel she was restraining herself. Perhaps the premise or Cage himself was intimidating to her, but I felt she was not entirely there most of the time. I’m aware that her looks contributed more to her casting than anything else, but I have seen her do better. As for any romantic chemistry between the two, it never surfaced, at least in my timeline. Julianne Moore was far more charismatic but terribly underused throughout.
Chris Johnson (Cage) has a “gift”. He can see two minutes into his own future. To hide his ability and protect himself from being studied or used, he squirrels it away in plain sight as a Vegas magician. He finds himself haunted by visions of a woman (
Making The Best Next Thing:: Cage is not only the star but a producer on this film, and his input is the center of this typical behind the scenes feature. Pretty much everyone contributes a sound bite here and there along with plenty of clips and behind the camera moments. Cage appears to believe in this film rather passionately, so I’m sure the box office was a disappointment to him.
Visualizing The Next Movie: CG fans will enjoy this 8 minute look at the film’s visual f/x.
The Next Grand Idea: Cage and
Two Minutes With Jennifer Biel: A couple of minutes where she’s really no more dynamic than in the film. Mostly it’s a promotional: “What would you do if you could see into the future” bit.
I liked the film, I really did. I just didn’t fall in love with it. If you haven’t yet seen it, and that is most of you out there, this is an awesome rental. Deciding on buying it depends on what kind of a film watcher you are. Honestly, the film plays out in such a way that makes repeated viewings less likely. Don’t get me wrong. If you’re like me, there are plenty of sweet little nuances and subtle things that make this film worth seeing again, but then I’m told I am not normal. I’m the kind of guy who still sees something new and cool in The Godfather even after about 100 viewings. Most of you will not enjoy seeing this film once you can see about an hour and a half into the future of Next. Some will just enjoy looking at