In the latest of a long line of films ever-so-vaguely related to Philip K. Dick stories, Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson – a stage magician who has the ability to see potential futures. We’re told this firstly via a voice over, then a second time through dialogue, and this kind of shitty over-exposition is the kind of thing at which Hollywood exceeds. Remember Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut, and how much better it was without the narration? At least Harrison Ford’s voiceover suited the film – in a kind of neo Raymond Chandler way. In Next, Cage’s narration is only present for a couple of minutes at most, but clearly an unnecessary distraction from what could have been a pretty nifty film.

NextExcepting A Scanner Darkly, I generally take it for granted that a Philip K. Dick inspired film won’t actually resemble the source material. And that’s okay. That Hollywood often makes the most simplistic films from such wacky tales is fascinating though.

Next is the kind of movie that would have been great during a 24 hour sci-fi marathon – there’s a couple of cool ideas (the REALLY cool sci-fi films often don’t fare well at the box office – Sunshine being a recent example), but overall it’s fairly lacklustre. I’d like to say that Cage’s talents are wasted, but he hasn’t really impressed since Leaving Las Vegas, has he? This is certainly a side step for the rise of Jennifer Biel. She plays love interest Liz, but it’s hard to want the romance to succeed when Cris seems like such a creep, using his power like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day to get on her good side.

The film clearly needed a bigger budget, and some of the special effects are nothing more than horrid shiny objects flying past the camera. It certainly was a bad idea to invite comparisons with the fantastic opening scene of Final Destination 2, what with the falling logs. Next does have its moments, but alas not enough of them to truly impress. That it breaks its own rules doesn’t really help, either. Wait for DVD.

Rating: 2 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 29th August 2007
Hoopla Factor: 2.5 stars

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