5.01.2008

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Next (2007)

DIRECTED BY
Lee Tamahori

STARRING
Nicholas Cage - Cris Johnson
Julianne Moore - Callie Ferris
Jessica Biel - Elizabeth Cooper

Year - 2007

Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4 [WTF? Vault Entrant]


I first saw the trailer to NEXT before watching one of my favorite films of the 2007, GRINDHOUSE, in early April 2007. While I'm not the biggest Nicholas Cage fan [he has his moments], I thought the film had a lot of promise. The ability to see into the future and using it to save the world from being destroyed - cliched, yet simple formulatic plot that's almost impossible to screw up. Plus, it had a great actress in Julianne Moore and a hottie in Jessica Biel involved. What could go wrong, right? Alot, apparently.

PLOT
Las Vegas magician Frank Cadillac, whose real name is Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage), has the ability to see up to two minutes into the future. There's a catch, however, as he can only see HIS future and how it would affect HIM. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has caught wind of his ability and has been following Cris, hoping Cris could help her and the government stop a nuclear explosion from occurring soon with his gift. Cris, just wanting to be as normal as possible, wants nothing to do with it.

At the same time, Cris is obsessed by a woman, Elizabeth Cooper (Jessica Biel), he meets at a diner. Apparently, her presence allows Cris to see even further into the future. The two get together and its Elizabeth's future [that's "coincidentally" connected to the nuclear bomb] that forces Cris to make a choice as to help Agent Ferris or not.

REVIEW
I like to thank NEXT for showing me how NOT to make a film. God, what a 90-minute mess. I don't even know where to begin with my disappointment and disgust for this film. Nothing in this film made any sense. And that's pretty funny since I understood what the film was about and where it was supposed to head to. But instead of Point A to Point B to Point C to Point D, we get Point A to Point C to Point D to Point B. Even Albert Einstein would be racking his brain trying to figure out this bullshit.

Director Lee Tamahori [who also directed DIE ANOTHER DAY & XXX: STATE OF THE UNION] is a hack. His direction is unbalanced and unfocused. Character development - was there any besides some for Cage's character? How did Agent Ferris know about Cris' powers? Why and how would Liz fall for Cris with that horrible haircut? There's no suspense at all during this film or any build up to it, which is a CRIME in action films. Even the climax was boring. I wasn't excited at all by anything I was watching, and that's disappointing because the trailer showed so much potential. Apparently, Tamahori only focused on the CGI [I've seen better on those horrible Sci-Fi films they show every Saturday Night]. I thought Uwe Boll was a horrible director, but at least his films have some entertainment value. This film has none. I hope Tamahori never directs a film again - especially one written by THREE people [more than two screenwriters on a film means trouble].

The acting - sigh. Three decent-to-great actors and they showed NONE of what they're capable of. I don't know if it was the script's fault or they just signed on to cash a paycheck, but I was not capitivated by anyone's performance. Nicholas Cage is...well, Nicholas Cage in any other Nic Cage movie you've seen. This man's one act is getting really old. The last time I really liked watching him was in FACE/OFF and that was 10 years ago! At least his character was somewhat developed and I felt some kind of connection to his plight when it came to using his powers for himself or for the greater good. But his character could have been a lot better if Cage let himself emote on film for once, instead of being so one-note and bored-looking. That Oscar he won years ago is losing its luster.

Julianne Moore must have had a brain fart when she signed up to do this. She's a great actress, but you see none of that here. She's the token butch-female power figure who needs to have it her way or she'll shoot you. And she's not even a convincing federal agent - she's a parody of one. The sunglasses, the man walk, firing at targets as if they gave her an STD - it'd be humorous if it weren't so pathetic to watch. This reminded me of her performance as Clarice Starling in HANNIBAL. She wasn't convincing then and she's not convincing now. I've seen her do alot better work in the past. This was totally her way to pick up a paycheck.

Jessica Biel was the token eye-candy girlfriend. Nothing more. Nothing less. Which is a shame because she's a good actress in the right role [THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake & THE ILLUSIONIST are good examples of that]. This is not the right role for her because she doesn't get to do anything but be a slutty [she had sex with a guy she just met - she's a slut] damsel in distress. And the one scene where she tries to be emotional is ho-hum. Maybe if I cared a bit more about the characters, it would have had a better effect on me. Too bad the direction or the script allowed that to happen. As the eye-candy girlfriend, Biel is perfect. She's sexy and very easy on the eyes. But she can act too, and it's a damn shame she wasn't allowed to here.

And I have to mention the ending because that was the BIGGEST cop-out ending to a film I have EVER seen in my entire life. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen the film but it came right out of an Aaron Spelling soap opera. In that context, I wouldn't have a problem with it because at least it would have a purpose in its execution. But in a film I can't see any formation of a franchise from, it's unacceptable. When I watch a film, I expect it to have some sort of logical end. This one has neither logic or a fitting end. Bah!

If there was any positive in this film, it was the beginning scene in the casino. Cage's Cris using his gift to escape casino security at every corner. I also liked the different visions of the future Cris had when it concerned approaching Liz [who was arguing with an ex-boyfriend at the time] for the first time. Very humorous segments that showed how the smallest of things can change the future. Only parts of the film that I was entertained by. But even if you sprinkle some glitter onto shit, it's still basically shit.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING THIS FILM

1) Titles are misleading. I was expecting a bus full of twenty-something skanks looking for a date on MTV. That would have been more entertaining than what I just saw.

2) Don't be a magician in Las Vegas. No one there gives a shit if you can pull a woman's necklace out of your ass. New York panhandlers make more money just by shaking a coffee cup and pretending to be homeless [unlike magicians, who really are homeless].

3) If you have powers to see the future, they only allow you to see things 2 minutes ahead unless you're lucky enough to be banging Jessica Biel [which expands the time]. No wonder Justin Timberlake's life seems to get better and better as time goes on. Apparently, Paris Hilton has banged Jessica Biel as well.

4) Women with power lose all sense of feminity. So if you're female and hold a prestigious position where you're in charge of something, congratulations...you're officially a butch! See also: Rosie O'Donnell

5) If you want to bang a hot chick, you need to have really fucked-up looking hair. It gives girls a chance to use their makeover skills for once. See also: Lyle Lovett

6) Movie villains must be from a foreign land in cliched action films. If only they signed that damn Immigration Bill, this world would be a lot better place.

7) Teenagers have a better idea of love than adults do. No wonder teen pregnancy is so high and women are having babies in their 50s and 60s.

8) The FBI like to stalk and force psychics into stopping terrorist activities. I guess Miss Cleo, Dionne Warwick, and her Psychic Friends were too busy 6 years ago in September.

9) If you're named Jessica, expect to be in a "damsel-in-distress" situation. See also: Jessica Alba in INTO THE BLUE & Jessica Simpson anytime her father's around.

10) I wish I could see 2 minutes into the future. Maybe then, I would have realized I'd be wasting 90 minutes of my life watching this crap. Maybe it's because I have a decent haircut or something...

THE FINAL HOWL

I can't recommend NEXT to anyone. If it were bad in a manner where you can find some entertainment value from it being horrible, I wouldn't be so negative on it. But this film doesn't have any redeeming value at all. The trailer gets a higher score than the film does. Don't expect a masterpiece here. Actually, don't expect anything at all. If you're ever offered to watch this for any reason, just say NEXT!

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