Next – Blu-ray Review

Next
Available at Amazon.com

If you could see into the future and know what was going to happen to you, would you want to know? Every time you look into the future, the future changes. For some, that is a good thing as they could prevent bad things from happening to them. For others, they just want to be surprised and believe that everything happens for a reason. Next attempts to examine this interesting topic and debate in true Hollywood style.

In Next, Las Vegas showroom magician Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) has a secret which torments him: he can see a few minutes into the future. Sick of the examinations he underwent as a child and the interest of the government and medical establishment in his power, he lies low under an assumed name 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 (Julianne Moore) must use all her wiles to capture Cris and convince him to help her stop the cataclysm.

Nicolas Cage once again plays a strong leading star here. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why you will want to watch this film. He is perfect for this role. The same can’t be said for his “love interest” played by Jessica Biel. Biel does an good job with her role, but it is never believable that Cage & Biel could ever be a romantic couple. They just seem to be thrown together without any development. Julianne Moore also does a good job as the woman leading the chase after Cage, but none of the acting is too inspired with the exception of Cage for the most part.

The plot is preposterous, even for a science-fiction film. It really doesn’t know what it wants to be. It could have gone more in-depth in the debate of destiny vs. free will, but instead tries to do both at the same time. Then, it remembers that this is a big Hollywood movie after all, and that means it has to have romance, explosions, and lots of bullets. Nothing really comes together that nicely.

Hollywood is all about romance and action. Those two things come before trying to make an audience think. This also applies to Next unfortunately. The main romance in this film is unbelievable and the action scenes, while good, just seem to be thrown in there at the last minute. Next attempts to explore an interesting topic, but tries too hard to be many different things at the same time. Only a couple of action scenes, Nicolas Cage’s performance, and the short length of time even make this film watchable.

The video is presented in 1080p/VC-1 at the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. The transfer is crisp and clear for the most part. Colors are bright and vivid, and the screen is exceptionally clean. It’s not the best high-definition version of a film you will find, but it does the job it needs to do.

The audio included is available in either English Uncompressed PCM 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. Also, all the general sound effects you find in a typical action film are heard loud and clear from all different angles, which is always a good thing.

“Making the Next Best Thing” Featurette – This runs 18 minutes and it’s your standard “behind-the-scenes/making-of” featurette with the cast and crew. Somewhat interesting, but nothing special.

“Visualizing the Next Move” Featurette – This runs 7 minutes and it’s about how the visual-effects were created for this film. You have seen this before in other films, so really not that insightful.

“The Next Grand Idea” Featurette – This runs 6 minutes and it’s all about how the Grand Canyon sequences in the film were shot.

“Two Minutes in the Future With Jessica Biel” Featurette – This is just a two minute interview with Jessica Biel about the film. Nothing earth-shattering is said here either.

The movie is not the greatest, but Nicolas Cage gives a great performance so fans of his may want to buy this. I can only recommend a rental, though, as this is a film that just doesn’t work on many levels. There is really no need to get the Blu-ray version either, unless you are a hardcore action fan and enjoy hearing bullets and explosions round your head.

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Paramount presents Next. Directed by Lee Tamahori. Written by Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensle, and Paul Bernbaum. Starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel. Running time: 96 minutes. Rated: PG-13. Released on DVD: June 3, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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