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Next (**)
directed by Lee Tamahori
written by Gary Goldman, Jonathan Hensleigh, and Paul Bernbaum, from a "novel story" (sic) by Philip K. Dick
Principal Cast
Nicolas Cage -- Cris Johnson
Julianne Moore -- Callie Ferris
Jessica Biel -- Liz
Thomas Kretschmann -- Mr. Smith
Tory Kittles -- Cavanaugh
José Z˙˝iga -- Security Chief Roybal
Jim Beaver -- Wisdom
Jason Butler Harner -- Jeff Baines
Michael Trucco -- Kendal
Enzo Cilenti -- Mr. Jones
Laetitia Danielle -- Miss Brown
Nicolas Pajon -- Mr. Green
Sergej Trifunovic -- Mr. White
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Next is one of those all too common films where craftsmanship on the part of the actors and technicians is rendered pointless by a total lack of craftsmanship on the part of the writers. The gimmick is that Nick Cage can see two minutes into the future. If there were such a person, I'll tell you later on what his life would really be like, but that doesn't happen in the movie, because the writers never bother to think. Nothing the hero does, nothing the villains do, nothing the cops do, makes any sense at all. The script is of the "what cliché comes next" school of screenwriting.

Nicolas Cage and, in a cameo, Peter Falk, have enough charisma to keep you awake when they are on the screen. As soon as they are off camera, you find yourself nodding off.

The movie probably got made because of the moderate success of a much better film with a similar premise, Déjà Vu. The writers of Déjà Vu had a few clever ideas.

Nothing in Next, except the gimmick, has anything to do with the chilling story by Philip K. Dick, which appeared in If, April 1954. The movie director's idea of originality is to run the credits backwards, from the bottom of the screen to the top -- the only original idea in the entire film. There is a moderately entertaining special effects set piece in the middle, and another one near the end. The rest of the film is boring.

David Ives wrote a wonderful off off-Broadway play called All in the Timing. In one vignette, two people who have just met engage in a conversation. Every time one of them says something wrong, a buzzer sounds, and they get to try again. That is, of course, the real advantage of a glimpse two minutes into the future, a chance to unsay all the really dumb things we have said in our lives.

About fifteen minutes into the movie, I realized what would actually follow from the film's premise. If the government really had someone who could see two minutes into the future, and if somebody in the government was intelligent enough to put the guy to use, here is what would happen. He would spend his life in a nice hotel room in an uneventful Midwest city, given everything he wanted -- food, drink, friendly companions. Every night, just before he goes to bed, he reads the early edition of the next day's newspaper. If he sees anything important in the paper (how often does that happen -- three or four times a year?) then he writes it down. If, looking two minutes into the future, he sees himself writing something, he writes down now the same thing he sees himself writing then. When he wakes up, if he sees himself two minutes in the future writing, he starts writing.

Now, you have a window one day into the future, infinitely useful, and the worst thing that can happen to the guy with the power is that he has to spend an occasional day writing the same thing over and over, 480 times.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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